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Art altered book unseals the mind

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TLC’s Certificate programme gives students a taste of art through a series of creative and visual art exercises that help them begin to express themselves and their unique way of thinking and seeing the world.

In all of our programmes, students are encouraged to keep a visual diary that maps and records their progress through the course. It contains their ideas, visual concepts and provides inspiration for new work and the chance to shake off some creative cobwebs.


Carl Image 5


Brainstorming and sketching and the importance of play and trying new things is emphasized continually throughout the Certificate programme. One exercise all Certificate students have the option of completing is to transform an existing printed book.

The idea of this exercise is to encourage students to turn the page on their old way of thinking, to engage, and start thinking creatively.


Carl Fairweather, our study from home (distance delivery) Certificate student, and self-proclaimed ‘dedicated introvert’ from Hawera, has started to reimagine the classic storybook 'Mrs McGinty and the Bizarre Plant', by Gavin Bishop.

These images are from his altered book project. Find out more about Carl Fairweather, the man behind these fantastic hallucinatory images below:


Carl Image 2


Why did you select this particular book?

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the title of the book. It had the word 'bizarre' in it. I thought, 'That’s a great starting point!'


Can you talk us through your altered book concept work?

Well, my altered book is still a work in progress. The fact that this book turned out to be a New Zealand classic, and signed by the author, made me think that I should take my time with it. I’ve decided to save it until Term 2, to really get stuck in.

I want it to be a bizarre, illuminated book of imagery and words. I have finished putting my images in and have begun the process of adding text to it. This is not easy, as I only want to 'hint' at a story line.

Things can get tricky when text and images come together. Once I have the words sorted, I plan to attack it with some drawing mediums: ink, watercolor, and perhaps paint. A Ralph Steadman documentary I watched recently has given me some great ideas.


Tell me about themes and imagery you usually like to work with?

The themes of my work tend to range from the spiritual, to the political, to the pop.

Words are a big part of my art making, with poetry a big influence. I love how a poet can say something wonderfully big and beautiful, with just a few words.

That's why I enjoy collage and assemblage so much. It’s visual poetry.


Carl Image 1


I chose images and objects that have a certain 'essence' to them – a symbolic power that illustrates the theme of the piece. My process can be likened to a poetical, metaphoric chess game – one that defines the finished work in the end.


What is the story behind your selection of images for the book?

The process for picking my images was kind of a controlled randomness. I have a couple of plastic storage bins at home that are filled with collage images. I basically went through every single image looking to see if it fitted in with what I wanted to create.


What materials and media did you use to create it?

At the moment it's just collage and a glue stick.


Carl Image 4


After the Certificate course, Carl plans to carry on to the Diploma. He hasn’t done anything on canvas for a while, or any drawing, so he wants to play around a bit with different media. “You need to be open to new things in order to create.”

He says he is forever looking for new ways to feed the mind, whether that is through books, music or documentaries.

 “Life's way to short to be a prisoner to other people's expectations of how you should live your life.”


Unlock your creative mind by studying creativity & art at The Learning Connexion. To find out more about our NZQA approved programmes call us on 0800 278 769.

To find out more about Carl and see more of his work at: www.carlfairweather.com


  • Keri
    03/12/2016 10:34am (7 years ago)

    Enjoyed this alot & so can relate!

    Been dithering for a month or two whether to join TLC for the certificate course or not - mind made up, gonna do it! Looking forward to the altered book section!

    Thanks Carl for your insight & views. Visited your website & love your art. Bonus: Stevie Wonder singing 'Superstition' on Sesame Street - too cool for school mate