Maggs Commission


Maggs beneath the covers
20th  September 2012 untill 3rd January 2013

A Statement for the Maggs Commission.

“The physical inertia of a book is part of its charm’”   Ed Maggs.

 “All artists should have their tongues cut out”     Henri Matisse.

 My first impression of Maggs Bros. was of a post Dickensian film set, with the occasional flat screen monitor lurking amidst the myriad tomes. On subsequent visits it became obvious that the antiquarians and specialists working there very much connected to the febrile activities of the Internet and the digital universe.

It is from this realisation that I took my cue for the work I would do for the Maggs Commission, also bearing in mind the remit ‘Using or subverting the notion of craft in extreme and conceptual ways’, and that this would place my practice in that fluctuating space and time between the analogue and digital multiverse.

Because of its modest magic, I chose the late 18th century Edwards Book of Common Prayer whose fore-edge painting, hidden beneath the gilding, Robert Harding demonstrated for me. This was one of many revelations during my orientational tour, which included stories of the Blitz and sinkings in the Baltic Sea. The Prayer Book’s fore-edge landscape painting and that of a rose on another, grander book, was reminiscent for me of early cinema in its time based fleeting moments.

Affiliated and ongoing experiments include freezing, and subjecting samples to microwave and other inappropriate methodologies. I hope that these practical applications and procedures will also have some metaphorical resonance.

By conflating the  earlier human engendered catastrophic violence with the possibility of a contemporaneous disaster, as in a terrorist ‘dirty bomb’ attack on central London, I envisage further developments  as I move along on this imaginative journey.

Nigel Slight

July 2012


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