Originally published on Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Dedicated to the promotion and production of ‘artist books’, La Libreria is a small archive and workshop at the Goodman Art Centre in Singapore, The Goodman Centre itself is a collection of artists’ studio, workshops and a few small galleries located in a renovated school building. Typically Singaporean in its order and tidiness, the complex also fosters the essential possibility for creative cross-pollination; for the casual exchange of artistic concepts and information.
So it was heartening to find an “Artist Books’ project at the Goodman Centre. La Libreria , is run by the affable Eriko Hirashima, who has been actively involved in the genre for many years. She maintains her own unique archive, sells various titles from around the world, and also offers classes in book making and production. After Eriko welcomed us to peruse her shelves and also explained La Libreria’s and her own history with ‘artist books’, we were able to locate and purchase “The Republic of Daydreams” by Lee Wen and “A Guide to mental Sculpture” by Dennis Tan, along with sampling “Aversions” which Lik Ink now carries.
Eriko Hirashima: It is probably easier for me to introduce myself as a book artist, because most of my works use book forms or book like objects.
Likink: Who or what provided your fundamental inspiration when you started La Liberia?
Eriko Hirashima: La Libreria started as a part of my Book (Art) project in Singapore, though it also has a business platform. When I moved to Singapore from London, I was already making books as a book artist. If I wanted to work with books in Singapore, I had to think what I could do with my situation. That was the starting point for La Libreria.
Likink: Why did you start La Libreria in Singapore and how long has it been in operation?
Eriko Hirashima: La Libreria started in 2004. So, it has been active for 8 years. When I came to Singapore about 12 years ago, there is almost no Book Arts or Artists’ books here yet. The situation was difficult for me both in making and finding Artists’ Books. For this reason, I decided to set up an artists’ book shop to promote Artists’ Books in Singapore.
Likink: What are some of the outstanding “artist books” projects you have come across in Singapore?
Eriko Hirashima: I do not know which projects became crucial events for the public. But I have been working constantly on such activities as conducting bookmaking workshops both in and out of the studio, occasionally giving a lectures to the various arts institutions as well as attending International Art Book Fairs. In 2010, with 2 other curators (Seiji Shinohara and Noriko Suzuki Bosco), I organised an Artists’ Book exhibition called Centre to Periphery at Japan Creative Centre Singapore. It was great opportunity to present various different styles of books. The public was able to touch and feel most of the books. Making it a very tactile experience. In this show,20 artists from Singapore and 18 Japanese artists exhibited their book works.