British artist crafts giant book sculptures that create the effect of brushstrokes

Manchester born Jonathan Callan has spent the last 20 years experimenting with paperback books and magazines to create impressive large-scale artworks. The overall effect of the combined book edges is that of large brushstrokes, from the detail of the page cuts, to the colour used and the overall composition. The curve and manipulation of each book comes across as effortless, when it is anything but. Each sculpture is curled, wrapped, folded and bound together using just paper and screws. As you can see in these photographs, some of his works tower well above the viewer, reaching for the ceiling, spreading to the floor and almost pouring down the walls.

Though Callan’s portfolio includes a broad range, books and paper make up a large part of his sculptural medium and influence. On his website,, he explores the ideas behind his work with some fascinating insight. He comments: “Most of my work is derived from a fascination with materiality. I'm interested in fluff, dirt, dust. I'm interested in things breaking down... I have made a lot of work using books. Not because I have any fetishistic attitude towards them but because of the realisation that words are the poor and inefficient servants of experience. I might add that I’m not attempting any criticism of writers or the craft of writing but that having grown up within what is historically a literary culture I found myself valuing and gauging experience (which included art) only if it could be expressed and explored with words.

"As a visual artist this represented an interesting problem. Most people will rarely think of a book as an object, the words within are regarded as far more important than the form without. Because this seemed to perfectly express the problem I had in thinking about how art was discussed and how its meanings were valued, I began to regard books in the same way a potter might regard clay. In some senses I think of this as another way of approaching the equation of form and content, and how arguments have always been conducted about their relative importance."

Via Booooooom