TO CELEBRATE Book Week, Cobargo artist Rhonda Ayliffe took over the front window of Candelo Books on Monday.
Well, it was her “codex inperfecto” that took over the window, a 10-metre-and-growing hand-bound book that Ms Ayliffe has been working on for over three years.
The book started in 2010 as part of Ms Ayliffe’s Master of Fine Arts, which is she doing out of Monash University.
However, while other hand-bound books she has made have ended at seven metres, codex inperfecto – latin for “the unfinished book” – has continued to grow.
“It’s taken on a life of its own!” Ms Ayliffe said.
“It’s set to outgrow its current home, which is a vintage suitcase of my mother’s.
“When people ask me how long it’s going to get, I say to them ‘How long’s a piece of string’?’’
Ms Ayliffe is making the book in a technique known as Coptic book binding.
This method was first used almost 2000 years ago and requires the paper to be sewn together through the folds.
She has hand-cut every page and has had more than a few nasty needle sticks in the past few years, “but mainly if I’m talking to someone while I’m sewing” she said.
The chain stitching of this book has been undertaken with waxed linen thread, making the binding as beautiful as it is resilient.
“People ask if this is fragile, but the binding method makes it incredibly strong.
“I can drag this anywhere and I literally do,” she said.
Ms Ayliffe is recycling texts to create her new work and estimates she has already cut up two complete sets of World Book Encyclopaedia from the 1970s.
She takes her project wherever she goes, including to arts and writers festivals.
While at the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival last week, organisers dubbed her work “the longest book ever made” and although she’s never officially checked with Guinness World Records, Ms Ayliffe feels inclined to agree.
The book is off again later this year, as Ms Ayliffe takes it to Monash University where she does one residency a year as part of her distance degree.
“I’m not sure if it will fit in its suitcase by then, but not to worry, I have a bigger case,” she said.