Black and/or White

Tomorrow night we’re officially launching our first title, Black and/or White by Auckland artist Mary-Louise Browne. This book is a new iteration of a text work first made in 1982, as a student at Elam School of Fine Arts.

Emma compiling the printed pages of the new iteration of Black and/or White.

Known now for her large word sculptures, by 1982 Mary-Louise had already begun a text practice. In her hands words become slippery and mutable, undermining our expectations of narrative resolution.

Black and/or White contains 17 individual stories, each one offering three or four possible endings. The stories weave across each other, at times contradicting and negating each other. They are hilarious and yet also confronting. When I first read them I assumed they were fiction, but many of the artworks described are real. Reading them now, I think about feminism at the height of postmodernism, with authorship itself under threat.

Checking the facsimile copy against the original text.

Black and/or White was presented as a loose leaf boxed set – a book without a spine. It was printed at Elam on a letterpress printer, handset in Univers medium type. Mary-Louise printed it with the help of legendary Elam print technician Robin Lush, whose role in the practice of art books is talked about here in a lovely blog post by the Elam Library.

Our 2016 version is digitally printed, carefully reproduced from the original. We have taken great care to ensure that it’s a faithful copy, while wanting to acknowledge its difference from the original.


Like Mary-Louise’s first version, this iteration has been handmade, apart from the one stage of the process we can’t yet produce in-house. Instead, I took it down to Bill at Perry Print for binding.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 9.04.01 pm

To get your hands on a copy of the book please send an email to Black and/or White retails for $30 (plus postage), and is a limited edition of 100.

Emma Bugden, Editor 







Melbourne Art Book Fair

The Small Bore Books squad travelled to Melbourne in early May to investigate and play a small part in the second annual Melbourne Art Book Fair hosted by the National Gallery of Victoria.


It was exciting to be in a room full of publishers, from the large and established to the small and specialist, and heartening to see how many people visited (and bought books!) over the weekend.

There were some familiar names in the mix,


including, funnily enough, my own.


We were interested to check the fair out, as we’re keen to hold a stall ourselves in the future. I also spoke about Small Bore Books on a panel as part of the fair’s public programme, thanks to our friends at 3ply.

The panel was a chance to articulate some of the ideas we’re mulling over, about what it means to republish the past, to insert a text back into circulation. We do this because we’re interested in hearing the original voice, again. While the copy emulates the original, it is a new work that has a dialogue with the original, and we want to be honest about that shift. We see the new iteration as a pointer back to the original, rather than an improvement or an update. It’s certainly not 2.0.


Melbourne was stimulating and gave us plenty to think about, and to aim for.

Emma Bugden, Editor