This year’s Bookmarks Fair took place in the Fire Station at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) in March. Now in its fifth year, the fair is an opportunity for artists to sell their work and for the public to marvel at books and zines created by artists from across the globe.

Bookmarks is a learning and teaching initiative set up by Lucy Roscoe (Teaching Fellow in Illustration) and Jane Hyslop (Lecturer in Art) that connects staff, students and graduates in an annual event that both questions and celebrates the book form.

On display this year was the award-winning work of ECA graduates Eleanor Cook, Sophie Demery, Alice Eastwood and Jo Ruessman.

Jo Reussman’s varied collection of self-published work includes illustrated zines, prints and a one-of-a-kind silk screen-printed artist’s book. She uses these as vessels to tell ancient tales of Assyrian gods, saints, and Greek and Egyptian mythology.

“I enjoy telling stories that are a bit mythical and a bit bizarre, a bit vulgar and a bit grandiose, a bit funny and a bit bleak,” said Jo.

Bookmarks 2018 winner Jo Reussman shows off her work at the 2019 fair
Bookmarks 2018 winner Jo Reussman

"“I loved being surrounded by creative people for the day – to feel part of an artistic community and be reminded why I am doing what I am doing!”"

Jo Reussman

Jo, who graduated from the BA (Hons) Illustration programme in 2018, was pleased have the effort that went into for her hand-bound, screen-printed elaborate piece based on ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ recognised by the Bookmarks team. On top of showing off her winning work, another highlight for Jo was reuniting with old friends at ECA. “I loved being surrounded by creative people for the day – to feel part of an artistic community and be reminded why I am doing what I am doing!”

Fellow winner and class of 2018 graduate Eleanor Cook agreed that it was great catching up with people at ECA and found the Bookmarks Fair to be a source of inspiration.

“I got the opportunity to talk to lots of people about my work, which is important to develop ideas,” said Eleanor, “I got to look back at my Degree Show work and decide how to develop my practice moving forward.”

Making books influenced by architectural imagery forms a large part of Eleanor’s practice as an artist. Having attended Bookmarks all four years during her time at ECA, she says “it has been interesting to see how much the event has grown”.

Bookmarks 2018 winner Alice Eastwood at the 2019 fair held at the fire station
Bookmarks 2018 winner Alice Eastwood
Bookmarks 2018 winner Eleanor Cook shows off her work at the 2019 fair held at the Fire Station
Bookmarks 2018 winner Eleanor Cook

BA (Hons) Illustration graduate Sophie Demery received lots of positive comments for her award-winning nautical-themed zines and prints that were showcased. “It was a really nice surprise to win the prize and it felt like a nice end to my degree.”

Alice Eastwood has participated in Bookmarks since her second year of studying BA (Hons) Painting, from which she graduated last year. “It was pivotal to my practice and the journey my artwork would ultimately take me on,” she said.

Her prize-winning work consisted of domestic objects constructed from paper. “The context of my work firmly sits within the feminist scope,” she said, “it spawned around my interest for the archetype of the ‘perfect woman’ and the characteristics that women are expected to embody.”

“I had so many interesting conversations and debates about my work, giggling at people’s reactions to my more phallic works as well as talking to people about their own stories,” said Alice, “The event also gave me my first real insight into the process of selling art and what I need to do in the future when I participate in similar events.”

The winners of the 2019 Bookmarks Prize were graduates Lauren Holehouse (BA [Hons] Sculpture), Lynn Linran Jiang (BA [Hons] Graphic Design) and Amy Moss (BA [Hons] Illustration). Their work will be exhibited at the Bookmarks Fair in 2020.

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