Saddletree: The Academic Book as Art

Principal Investigator Dr Samantha Rayner and Project Manager Rebecca Lyons visited Palgrave Macmillan at their ‘London campus’ recently to discuss exciting plans for Project collaboration. After the meeting Sam and Bex were intrigued by a piece of art in the conference space, which is housed in former stables. Jen McCall, Global Head of Humanities, Scholarly Division & Publisher, Theatre & Performance, explains Saddletree’s origins…

Saddletree

Saddletree in the new conference room – housed in former stables at Palgrave’s ‘London campus’.

Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education, and Nature Publishing Group (together, Macmillan Science and Education) came together from their offices in Oxford, Basingstoke and London, last year, to take up residence in the ‘London Campus’, making it far easier to share ideas and explore new opportunities in the rapidly changing publishing environment.

Saddletree was commissioned by our design team and was chosen to clothe the life-sized statue of a horse, which takes pride of place in conference space of our new home – a former stables.

Saddletree

The saddle acts “as a metaphor for stability and balance”

As the artist who created the work says, the saddle acts “as a metaphor for stability and balance as the company (and publishing as an industry) embark on a period of substantial change and development, whilst celebrating Macmillan’s rich heritage through the beauty of its objects.”

We wanted to celebrate our coming together as a group in the new Campus through the beauty of our printed products. The archive materials used to create the saddle were chosen carefully with the Macmillan Archivist’s help to represent the different divisions of our company and were merged together to create a single object, thus becoming more than the sum of their parts.

The piece itself was created by Su Blackwell, an artist who works predominantly within the realm of paper. Su studied the structure of a real leather saddle and the traditional methods used to create it. She then replicated those techniques using sheets of vintage paper which she printed our scanned archive materials on. The detail on the saddle is quite beautiful.

To read more about Su’s process take a look at her blog post: Su Blackwell Studio Blog: Saddle Tree: A Commission for Macmillan Science and Education.

Saddletree

 

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