The Portable Scriptorium
In 2015, Paula Billups created a piece that is part utility, part art space, part mobile installation and part sculpture, titled the Portable Scriptorium.
The process of creating palimpsests as an individual artist and exploring how the location of the ephemera affected the appearance of the finished work raised other questions. Ms. Billups wanted to see what would happen when people who were gathered in a certain time and place pooled their ephemera and made collages using each other's paper as well as their own. She created the Scriptorium as a means to travel to different locations with basic supplies in order to facilitate the creation of those pages.
Collaborative work tends to yield a new collective voice whose announcement is one that no individual artist would be able to make. Applying this thought, Ms. Billups traveled with the Scriptorium to Boston and Toronto in October of 2015. In Boston, she worked with the artist's group Le Salon, and in Toronto, she worked with the Babel Working Group at their Biennial Conference. To see more about these collaborative works, click here for the Boston event and here for the Toronto event.
The Scriptorium was built using the core of an abandoned, broken cabinet. Assisted by her husband Scott Billups and woodworker Scott Chasteen, the cabinet was sanded and refinished. They added a heavier base for stability and wheels for mobility. Two collapsible wings that could serve as working counter space were attached to the sides and three collapsing shelves were added to the side for additional storage of books and papers. Latches, pulls, brass corners, shelf chains and a push bar went on the Scriptorium. Lastly, they built a folding lectern on the front of the Scriptorium to hold pages as they are completed. The shelves and drawers have enough space to accommodate any donated ephemera as well as basic supplies for building pages.
Organizations interested in hosting an event where attendees can create a collaborative book can contact the artist to arrange for the Scriptorium to make a visit to their location.