Off the shelf

11. 773ARTSLIBRARIANS are a force to be reckoned with. Just ask publishing giant HarperCollins.

In the aftermath of 9/11 the multinational subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation had told Michael Moore to rewrite his just-written book Stupid White Men.

HarperCollins had decided the liberal activist’s sizzling critique of George W Bush, written before 9/11, was inappropriate for a US audience gearing up for war.

Moore refused to change a word so the publisher prepared to pulp the deal.

But HarperCollins hadn’t factored in the wrath of librarians, who flooded the publisher with (well-written) letters demanding the book’s release.

The publisher backed down and the book became a bestseller. Two years later it went into its twenty-second reprint.

Innovative WA artist Tom Freeman’s exhibition Formative acknowledges the importance of librarians at a personal level.

His exhibition of works consists of studies of the Kettering library in the UK, where his grandfather was librarian in 1953.

Freeman’s family emigrated when his mum was an infant. A UK residency in 2009/10 was his chance to reconnect with family history.

He used the time to snap a series of photographs documenting the library’s interior architecture, laying the foundations for the exhibition.

“Family history came out of other works I had been doing already. I was always drawn to memories and feelings,” Freeman told the Voice.

The exhibition is a collection of paintings, photos and sculptures with a whimsical take on aspects of the library.

And while there’s a representation of shelves there are no books.

“I’m not interested in the little details but the emotional attachment I had,” the artist says cryptically.

His delicate pieces are formed from a mix of plaster, pine and balsa wood as well as beeswax—overlaid with acrylic and oil paint.

“[Beeswax] is really, really nice to work with,” Freeman says.

Although this is Freeman’s first major solo exhibition he’s had pieces in exhibitions at the Fremantle Arts Centre and PICA and was one of only four WA artists selection for Here and Now at UWA last year.

His work hangs at Joondalup council and Curtin University and in various private collections.

Formative is on at Venn Gallery, Queen Street, Perth until May 10. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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