Artists' books by Alex Byrne

Alex Byrne has retired from his position as our CEO and State Librarian, leaving the Library with the parting gift of four artists' books. In addition to his work leading the Library over the last five years, Alex is an experienced printmaker, primarily working with intaglio and relief prints. His work has been exhibited in galleries in Sydney and Townsville.

In depositing these books, Alex made reference to The New South Wales Copyright Act 1879, which stipulates that the Library should receive: ‘A printed copy of the whole of every book which shall be first published in this colony after the passing of this Act together with all maps prints or other engravings belonging thereto finished and coloured in the same manner as the best copies of the same.’

The artists’ books Alex has deposited with the Library contain intaglio prints and aquatints which were featured in his exhibition Murmurs of the Heart, an exploration of the varied meanings of heart. Alex has stated about this exhibition, ‘The heart is the popular source and symbol of love but also a portent of mortality. It can be stopped, started, dissected reconstructed. Its pulse tells us we are alive, racing when we are excited, faltering when we are weak. Symbolically it unites us with others as friends and lovers. Its warmth spreads through our bodies, its shape and beat move us.’ 

This collection contains Heart bound (a bound work of intaglio prints), Concertinazine (a concertina strip of intaglio prints), Blue heart (a coloured aquatint) and Heart in a sleeve (a wrapped etching on Hahnemuhle paper, sealed with wax).

Alex’s thoughtful gift will complement the Library’s collection of Australian artists’ books.

Four artists' books shown together on a table