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The GAP Studio's Staple Reads

Do you know what has been feeding our art practice during these cold winter months? Books, books and more books!

We’ve gathered some of our favourites and made a list of our “essential art bibles” to bring you inspiration!

Georgina's picks:

Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram

This philosophy/ ecology book has opened my eyes to ways in which humans, as much as any other living thing on this planet, are intrinsically connected to this earth, in both body and mind. It has seriously impacted my painting practice, and also the way in which I relate to the world. Go read it!

Lives of the Artists, Lives of the Architects by Hans Ulrich Obrist

The book is a collection of transcripts from conversations Hans Ulrich Obrist has recorded with artists and architects over the years. It opened my mind to the fascinating grey area between art and architecture, although I think everyone who reads this book will get something different out of it, since the book's value is in how the reader makes connections between ideas across various interviews.

Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong

A book on curation and the role of art in everyday life. I am constantly referring back to this book for guidance and ideas any time curation is discussed in GAP Studio meetings.

Nuria's picks:

“Art as we don’t know it” by Aalto University

A beautiful collection of Bio Art artworks that presents a unique overview of the emerging art practice. As an artist working with biology it’s fantastic to have this book because there isn’t much literature written about the art discipline!

“Dark Ecology” and the “Ecological Thought” by Timothy Morton

These two books establish the basis of Timothy Morton’s thinking, a philosopher whose bold and poetic take on ecology inspires the narratives of my art practice. Morton attacks settled ways of thinking by offering new vocabulary to experience the world in true interconnectedness. These books dive deep into the darkness and strangeness of ecology, inviting the non-humans into the conversation and challenging the dichotomy between Humans and Nature suggesting an “Ecology without Nature”.

“Staying with the trouble” by Donna Haraway

This book is the key into Donna Haraway’s world. Haraway’s passionate writing teaches us how to live-with, think-with and die-with the living world damaged by the Anthropocene. In her radical thinking, she uses tools from sci-fi, myths, storytelling and art to weave provocative new ways to reconnect with our planet whilst “staying with the trouble”.

“Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet· by Anna Tsing et al.

This work brings together essays by the most wonderful Anthropocene and multispecies thinkers into a book split in two mysterious sides “Monsters” and “Ghosts”. The result is a kit on “arts of living” made out of entangled histories, situated narratives and art for our survival in a more-than-human Anthropocene.

(“The Mushroom at the End of the World” is missing from this list, but you can find its key ideas inside this book!)

“The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula le Guin

Ursula le Guin appears across all the books I’ve mentioned so far, so I had to include one of her fictional masterpieces. I think a bit of sci-fi is essential if you want to reflect on the present of the Anthropocene! In Ursula le Guin’s wordsstories about the future are simply a metaphor for understanding the present. This book questions our present civilization’s structure by travelling to a frozen planet with an androgynous society. It’s a true classic!

Kasia's picks:

“Ways of Drawing” by the Royal Drawing School

THE ultimate drawing bible for me. It was a book I urgently anticipated coming into the university library after its publication, and didn’t let go of for months after. Until I was gifted a copy for my birthday, and now I still can’t let go of it! It’s THE place to go for insightful writing and inspiring drawing exercises. It has been a real game-changer for not only my studio practice but also when thinking about teaching drawing.

“Art as Therapy” by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong

This one has to get a double mention! This one is a must if you want to think about the future of curation and how art can become more prescriptional!

“The Sea Within” by Peter J. Kreeft

A beautiful beautiful read intertwining the life of water, particularly in oceans and seas, with our human existence. It was probably one of the first books that really pushed me into thinking about nature more spiritually. Something I was in desperate need of, at a time when this book surprisingly caught my eye on a last trip to the university library, not long before the first lockdown.

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