‘Hands in Print’

A new piece of Melbourne’s literary culture falls into place next month with the launch of Hands in Print.

Hands in Print is a series of artworks based on the hands of contemporary local and international authors and its launch is part of Rare Book Week.

The permanent exhibition is the idea of CBD bookseller Mary Dalmau and stems from an earlier concept which is now shrouded in a modern city mystery.

For many years, Mary traded on the corner of Bourke and Swanston streets and the shop’s frontage featured a series of bronze castings of authors’ hands.

“When they put a tram ‘superstop’ on that corner, the castings disappeared and no one knows where they ended up,” she said.

The new concept still concentrates on hands, but they are all either drawn or cast from clay and presented in frames.

Some 14 will be presented in the first public outing and come from authors within the broad categories of local, contemporary, international, teenage and children’s.

The pieces will be shared among three Collins St venues which are collectively known as the Reader’s Walk – Reader’s Feast Bookstore, Kay Craddock-Antiquarian Bookseller and The Melbourne Athenaeum.

The three venues have presented themselves as a single, shared experience for book lovers for some time now and are within metres of each other between Swanston and Russell streets.

Ms Dalmau says the collection will be added to as opportunities arise in the future. Rare Book Week runs from July 16 and July 26.

Visit www.rarebookweek.com 

The artist behind the actual pieces is Bridget Nicholson who does similar work within her Touch This Earth Lightly project. 

Ms Nicholson encases the artist’s hand in clay and moulds it so that the clay takes on the form of the person.

For Ms Dalmau, this is a symbolic connection between the world we see around us and the world of the imagination.

“It’s the whole of idea of then and now,” she said.

“Of tactile thoughts and the world of the imagination. At the the Melbourne Athenaeum Mem Fox, Thomas Keneally, Kate Grenville and Michael Connelly will be represented. Kay Craddock-Antiquarian Bookseller will feature Graeme Base, Geoffrey Blainey, Christos Tsiolkas and Stuart Macbride. And at Reader’s Feast Bookstore, the hands of Andy Griffiths, David Malouf, Alex Miller, Ian Rankin and Kerry Greenwood can be seen. 

Ms Dalmau said it had not yet been decided which venue will get Maureen McCarthy’s hand.

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