Linda Toigo is the perfect example of a naturally talented creative. She manages to shape the right environment for work, gets inspired in the right moment, and is spontaneously open for new possibilities. After studying Architecture, she decided it was not right for her. From Milan,she came to London and got involved in a variety of work ranging from paperwork to illustrations. Now, more than a year after her first exhibition, Linda has her bright studio space, incredible past exhibitions and even more fabulous to come.
After posting images of last year’s exhibition ‘Non-Sterile’ on Facebook, an event space organizer at Westminster Reference Library asked her to exhibit. Of course Linda agreed, and was given total liberty in regards to what she was going to show. A few months before the opening she started to think about the concept, and as she explains how it all came to mind I get further proof of the genius, but spontaneous thinking that Linda has.
“It all started because a few years ago my brother brought a lot of his stuff to my place and eventually left a lot of books. I kept all his lonely planet travel guides, which you can’t use anymore because they are out of date. I started thinking what I could do with that. That was three years ago, and my boyfriend that I had just me went to Brazil for two months. So while he was away I go the travel guide from Brazil and I started altering it. At the same time I was reading 100 Years Of Solitude from Gabriel Garcia Marques and there is a description of this town in the Forest, and you cannot find the town unless you follow the birds. So I had this travel guide and I had this place in mind and I started altering it. It was my way of being connected to this new person I had just met on the other side of the world. I was giving the guide a new role. That was the beginning of this series that I then decided to finish.”
Over the next three month Linda worked full time and created 9 guides for the exhibition.
“The idea was thinking of places that I’ve been interested in from literature. Places that do not exist in the real world but they are poetically important in novels/science fiction. I took the Lonely Planets and I created those places within the pages of books that belong to real places. And there is no connection between the imagined places and the books; I wanted to make it random. If you have a specific connection to the place Lonely Planet is talking about you have your own perception.”
She showed me a few of the guides, for example the guide of Britain inspired by a short story from Edgar Allen Poe.
“There is not a connection between the country and the place but you can see a connection if you have a connection with that country.”
She tells me how friends who visited Mexico told her that her alteration reflects the country itself.
This remarkable exhibition called ‘Guides to Elsewhere’ suggests a sort of escapism through literature, but a very personal, indefinite one.
“It was very interesting to work at the library. Usually in library they take care of books and I was destroying them so I contacted Lonely Planet and they gave me a box of vintage guides that are no longer sellable.” However Linda gave the guides a new purpose, and turned them from valueless to great pieces of art.
Linda is currently taking part in the Sidney Nolan’s Trust’s exhibition,celebrating 800 years of the Magna Carta. About six months ago the Trust had put up a call for book artist, interested in altering their volumes. Linda applied, and together with other 26 artists throughout the UK, she was selected.
“They had volumes from the Halsbury Statues, where the up to date laws are kept. But because the law is always changing they have now an updated version. So they sent me an old book with the instruction to alter it however I wanted. Every artist got one volume, and each one contained different laws.”
Some of the artist respected what the book talks about and I made a work based on the idea of law. One of the artist who was given laws on children made little shoes out of the pages.
“I removed all the pages and I put a respiratory system in it, as if the words are no longer important because they kept being changed by updates but the sense of the law stays so I’ve made it breathe”
At the beginning Linda thought of removing all words and keeping the pages, but got bored with this idea. So as it always happens, she gets her inspiration in the right moment. “I decided to remove all the pages and thinking of a book as almost a living object…what is missing here? Lungs and Heart…so I gave it a new life.” “Usually ideas just come to my mind. For these trust I started with one thing and I was going in the wrong direction. And then I had this other idea ‘let’s start again’. And it worked. Sometimes it takes time.”
The Sidney Nolan Trust already had a similar exhibition with old volumes of the encyclopaedia Britannica. They take unwanted books from libraries that can’t keep them, and use them for art works. The Magna Carta exhibition opened on Monday 15th of June and the works will be touring the UK throughout 2015/2016, stopping in London in February.
All volumes will be exhibited at the Westminster Reference Library and Linda will curate the exhibition herself. For more information visit:
Other current work
Linda recently organized beginners book alteration workshops, and would love to continue when she finishes her current projects. “Workshops are something that I need experience in, if I want to establish, to find a proper job in this field. Having commitment with communities is very important.” She wants to facilitate the way people approach art through her own art, still leaving a lot of imagination up to the participants. In the past two-hour session workshop she gave an introduction on book art, with basic skills on how to make characters stick out and give them a soul.
“It was so interesting to see in so little time how the outcomes were very different for people that never touched a blade before. You start with the same tool and type of book and theoutcome was so different. Each of them followed their own aesthetic.”
Throughout the summer Linda will be involved in one of the most exciting projects yet. “I’m working on a novel written by an Italian writer, known in the field of children literature. The publisher contacted me asking if I was interested in creating illustrations and we got along really well with the writer. It is a big thing for me. I always wanted illustrations to be published. It came by chance and I’m proving myself that I am able to do this.”
She is currently working on paper cut illustration and is incredibly happy to be part of the project. The final work will be handed in in two months time, and the book will be published before the end of this year.
How and where Linda works
Linda currently works in a bright studio in Hackney, together with other artist in the building.
“I used to work from home, but I like having private life separated from work. Here there are a lot of really nice people. We don’t do the same things but we know each other’s work and ask each others opinions,have lunch together. It is a very motivated community.”
She comes to the studio almost everyday. Her space is bright and clean, her artworks sitting around the table, a small computer and a lot of paper.
“Sometimes I have to use digital, for example for covers. In the cover you need to be very sharp and attract the people. That is the only digital thing in this book. I love working with tools and paper. I do drawings and when we are happy with the drawing I do the paper cut.When I work I listen to audiobooks and I can just fly away.”
In the future Linda sees herself in publishing as an illustrator, as well as continuing with workshops. She has an interest in anatomical images and would like to develop that further. “The same layering applied to a book can be applied to self-standing work. And that’s a production I want to work on”. Having gotten a lot of response asking if she would sell her work, Linda is also thinking of making her own collection.
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