Novel idea to make art with classics

Dunedin artist Lesa Hepburn, who goes by Lesa Deluxe, displays the city’s longest miniature...
Dunedin artist Lesa Hepburn, who goes by Lesa Deluxe, displays the city’s longest miniature artist book for her exhibition "The Paper Tears" at her studio in Dowling St. PHOTOS: GREGOR RICHARSON
Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes — a Dunedin artist has brought the words from the world’s greatest writers together into a single book.

Lesa Hepburn, in her debut persona as "Lesa Deluxe", strived to create the longest miniature artist book in the city, as part of this year’s Dunedin Fringe Festival.

Mrs Hepburn said she constructed the book by pulping the pages from seven works of classic literature and poetry, including Jane Austen’s Northhanger Abbey and Persuasion, and Charles Dickens’ Hard Times — about 1kg of paper in total.

By using a twin-tub Hoovermatic Deluxe washing machine and an antique tin bath made in Dunedin, she gutted the books and drenched the paper in water to create the pulp.

From the pages of other authors’ work, Mrs Hepburn had crafted her own work of art, she said.

"The idea of pulping with the twin tub is that there is all this amazing text in those books, and you get to capture that kind of poetic licence by pulping certain eras," Mrs Hepburn said.

"You get this magic of text coming together, and then it becomes this sculptural form."

About five people had passed through her studio so far to add their own pages to the book.

It was already 1.7m long by noon, but Mrs Hepburn expected it to reach 3m by the end of the day.

Mrs Hepburn said she selected a tub from a Hoovermatic washing machine to create the pulp as it did not contain blades that would agitate the paper, allowing the text to remain whole.

The idea of creating the longest miniature artist book arose from the notion of Dunedin as a City of Literature, and her own feeling of being tethered to the history of her Dowling St studio.

She selected the works based on the input of Deadsouls and Hard To Find Books, from whom she was allowed to pilfer "a couple of treats".

One of her creations.
One of her creations.
Mrs Hepburn said she was passionate about the eras the books came from, but also appreciated the randomness of mixing them all together.

"It’s such a calming thing to do, to pulp sheets of paper."