A storytelling and illustration exhibition from a highly unusual book are the focus of the Anniversary Art Show launching next Wednesday and Thursday at 111 East Gallery. The creations of gallery co-owner Brian Wood, the launch is the culmination of four years of work that saw the man who bills himself a “child-artist” learning how to make the very paper on which the original books were printed as well as the intricate arts of teak-carving and metal-working in order to create the proper background and binding for the tale.
“I’ve been an artist since I was a child, and I think I’m still both,” he told Post Weekend by email. “I was just born this way. As a child I loved to paint and draw, design, build, invent, dream and make music, and I still do.”
Wood will read from the one remaining copy he has of the book, Water and Fire, of which only eight copies were made before selling for $350 each. He described it as a “charmingly dark tale” of sharks and dolphins that evolved into people of rock and stone, and what becomes of them next. He wouldn’t tell us more for fear of giving away the plot.
“Charmingly dark is how some people also describe me,” joked Wood as he elaborated on how the tale was “breathed” into him by a giant sea turtle as he lazed on a Pacific island pondering what to do next with life.
“This turtle, Tatou, continues to speak to me, even still,” said Wood, a Californian. “He tells me what to do next, when I need to know. He also guides my brushes, pens, hammer and chisel on a need to know basis.”
While the original works have been sold, Wood has recreated a limited number of imprints for this two-week exhibition. He was still sweating on finishing the work necessary for the 30-plus pieces when he spoke to Post Weekend this week, but had been assured by Tatou the turtle that all will be well. The framed illustrations, which have also inspired many a tattoo, will go on sale for between $100 and $500.
Wood has been coming to Siem Reap since 2012, before settling down here in 2014, setting up 111 East Gallery and Hollywood Hot Dogs on the roundabout circle facing Old Market.
Wood will give readings over the course of the two launch evenings between 7pm and 10pm, while welcoming guests with a glass of welcoming Champagne. A live DJ and bar should complete the evenings’ serenades.