Philadelphia: Alice Austin, 2019. Number 15 of 20 copies. This tunnel book of the Grand Canal draws attention to the negative effects of tourism on Venice's rising water levels and ecosystem. Created from a series of lino-cuts, each page has been hand-cut and assembled into the tunnel book structure, giving the viewer a periscope-like view of the famed Grand Canal. The artist describes the scene as follows: "a chaotic mix of local fauna, gondolas, traghettos and bridges vying for space on the waterway, contrasting with the ominous visage of a cruise ship lurking on the horizon. The outsized scale of the ship emphasizes the threat these monsters impose on the delicate environment of this unique place — flooding the streets with mass tourism, and literally flooding the small canals with their enormous wakes. The cover panel is in the shape of an eye, reflecting upon the voyeuristic nature of tourism. The first panel shows an egret patiently hunting for fish amidst the chaotic scene. A quatrefoil-laced building facade typical of Venice provides the background. The second panel has a winged cherub and a traghetto (ferry) making its regular crossing of the Grand Canal, as the figures in the gondola stand in the customary Venetian way for the short trip, ready to bound off the second the boat docks. The third panel features the famed Rialto bridge, with a rower guiding a sandolo, the type of small rowboat used by the locals. The fourth panel shows the characteristic vase-shaped chimneys of Venice. The fifth panel is an enormous cruise ship ominously looming over the buildings and canal, impossible to miss. The sixth panel is the back side of the tunnel book - The Lion's Mouth, or bocce dei Leone - depicting letter boxes found that were placed in prominent locations, where citizens could slip a note betraying the names of enemies of the Republic. The side panels show rowers in racing gondolas training for the Regatta Storica." It is printed on Mohawk heavyweight paper and housed in a marbled paper covered clamshell box with magnet closure and paper title label to spine panel. The paper was marbled by the artist.
Alice Austin is a printmaker, book artist and painter living and working in Philadelphia. She has been on the faculty at the University of the Arts, teaching book structures, and has also taught workshops at the Center for Book Arts in New York, Ballinglen Foundation in Ireland, The Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice, and other institutions. She earned a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art and has been an active member of the Guild of Book Workers since 1998. She worked as a rare book and paper conservator for over 20 years at the Library Company of Philadelphia. Alice has also been awarded several artist residencies in Europe, and her work is widely held in private, public and special collections worldwide. Size: 6 x 11 x 1.5 inches closed, 13 inches open. Box size: 6.5 x 11.5 x 2 inches. Fine.