Doppel Sprache – Auf Deutsch und Englisch / In German and English – Dual Language
The foreword to the book by Ewan Clayton:
I have spent another morning looking at the work in this catalogue, some of it I have handled in Dresden, seen in an exhibition in the Correr Museum on St Mark's Square in Venice and some works are like brothers and sisters to small works I have on my shelves at home in England. But I am startled when I momentarily close my eyes, I continue to see the work of Mari Bohley, projected now onto the insides of my closed eyelids. This is an interior world, work that goes below the surface of things. I see warm colours and pulsations, brightness, edges that form and dissolve, spaces that open, doorways? Windows? Feelings that flame and fall away. This is a world that is other than words, but that is a paradox, because often it is made from words. There is something here more akin to knowing through taste and scent. This is work that respects mystery, fragments, incompletions, memories, it is haunting.
One reason I feel drawn to the work is because it is full of human care. The driftwood, torn paper, discarded books, have been gathered up, and a place is found for them in a new order, a context they did not perhaps expect to find. Chinese calligraphy sits next to handwritten documents in German. Gold leaf meets walnut ink, the form of a young child presses through paper pulp, sections of paper are stitched together, sheltered within wooden covers. That is what is fascinating, these are assembled fragments, they are in conversation, there is no longer any isolation.
We may think of this as an artistic achievement but it is also a human one, it comes from the vision of an artist, working with the material world, a world known through her own body and relationships, sense of touch and sight. A world that is fundamentally loved, that is the secret here, suffering and love, and most importantly love.
All art is about finding ways of being in the world, discovering a process that leaves traces of itself in material things, things that we pick up and handle, look at and contemplate leaving our experience wider, more full of choices, possibilities, freedoms. What I find impressive here is how the work has grown from the first painful marks with the pen, that I witnessed in London several decades ago, to work that now fills buildings, reverberates as installations, from pen strokes and the handheld book, to warehouses and bell towers! How wonderful and immense are our powers of expression and the ever vivid imagination of the human heart. Ewan Clayton, British Calligrapher and Professor in Design at the University of Sunderland.
About the artist:
Mari Emily Bohley, a daughter of a Czech father and a German mother, was born in Gorlitz in 1973. Growing up in East Germany, her childhood was influenced by the repressive school system and the oppositional attitude of her parents. She wanted to become a bookbinder early on, but after the wall came down in 1989 she needed some time to find out what she wanted to do with the new possibilities and freedom. She travelled to previously unreachable places like Morocco, Nepal, Tibet and South America, studied philosophy, art history and social work and finally realized she wanted to go back to her first idea. So she studied bookbinding and calligraphy with Jen Lindsay and Ewan Clayton from 1996 to 1999. Afterwards she started her own studio in Dresden and founded BLUE CHILD, a shop and gallery in 2000. In her work and in her teaching she combines calligraphy and bookbinding in a very personal way. More information can be found about Mari’s work at www.mari-emily-bohley.de.
A word from the artist – Personal thoughts on calligraphy - the art of writing, by Mari Emily Bohley:
My feelings about calligraphy are the same as about life itself - a nice surface is not enough.
A calligraphic work only gets interesting for me when it conceals a secret - a story, experience or mood which isn’t learned by simply reading the text, but through the expression of the stroke, the choice of material and the untold between the lines. A nicely written word creates pleasure, but a stroke filled with joy, ferocity, excitement, longing and confusing feelings can fascinate the viewer for much longer.
Beauty means liveliness to me. It stays mysterious. There will always be something left to discover which isn’t revealed at first glance. My work is based on stories or experiences, which I can't always put into words and can only show through art. When I create a work of art, like a collage or a canvas which expresses something about my feelings, but still holds a little secret, I find my work beautiful.
My idea can be summarized with the words of Saint Augustine: "Beauty is the brilliance of truth”.
This is a stunning catalogue where Mari has catalogued many outstanding pieces of work that show both her calligraphic and book arts skills. With over 150 photographs showing her works from various angles and detail, it certainly shows her skills. I would love to be able to unlock the secrets that Mari talks about in the section above! Truly insprirational. Congratulations Mari!!
1st edition, 2015, paperback, 84pp, over 150 photos, 21 x 21cm