Things found in library books

first, middle, family

Justine Giles, 2013, First, Middle, Family [ink and pencil on paper, 210 x 297 mm]

Last year when I was weeding a number of old and damaged books from the library I found some interesting inscriptions.  I didn’t have a particular plan for them at the time, but I photographed them to remember them.

Because of my experience teaching international students, the above notations made me smile knowingly.  Unless you are familiar with Western names, it can be difficult to determine what goes where in a reference… especially if you are used to family names coming first, it trips up my students all the time.

the gratitude I feel

Justine Giles, 2013, The gratitude I feel [ink on paper, 210 x 297 mm]

To Mr. L.

If all the gratitude I feel these

days were to be written down, it

would take more that this page to do it.

So, I guess I’ll just say how

much happier I am with myself and the world since

you helped me

know myself better.

Debi Wild

26, Sept ’73

I love this.  Even though I don’t have a specific ‘Mr. L.’ the sentiment of this inscription resonates with me.  The world does seem happier when you know yourself.

I tried to treat the handwriting like drawing… it was actually quite hard, I kept finding my hand trying to rebel and insert my own handwriting instead!

Found room

Justine Giles, 2013, Haunted room [graphite on paper]

The above image is from a photograph left in a very old book donated to the library from someone’s estate.  I have added it here in the interests of showing failure as well.  The drawing has none of the haunting of the original photographic image.  Which is important to note.  Some images just don’t translate fully into drawings… they lose too much.


  1. It is interesting that the top image was a book about Picasso as he ‘customised’ his name. In Spain people take both their father’s and their mother’s name, but are usually known by their father’s name. Picasso’s father’s name was Ruiz which in Spain is as common as Smith. So he took his mother’s name, Picasso, so that he wouldn’t be just another Paul Smith.

  2. Hi Justine,

    As I was looking at the image for ‘Things Found in library Books’ the gesture reminded me of David Shrigley’s work. A UK artist (if I remember correctly) who has a light, humerous touch – yet weight to his work.


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