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Library Exhibitions and Events: Taking a Journey

The University of Southampton Library offers a varied programme of events and exhibition across its sites.

Taking a journey: 21 years by Paul Salt and Sue Shaw


Paul Salt and Susan Shaw

On display from

Thursday 2nd November 2023 - Friday 15th December 2023



This exhibition will taker place at two of our Library sites:- 

Winchester School of Art Library

National Oceanographic Library

Check the opening hours to see when all our libraries are open.


SALT+SHAW (Paul Salt and Susan Shaw) have been producing artists’ books in collaboration since 2002. ‘Taking A Journey’ celebrates twenty one years of making in twenty one books, with objects and supporting items also on display, to reflect influences, ideas and the process of making.

Based in Sheffield, SALT+SHAW began making books together via a long route through painting, writing, drawing, installation, printmaking, sculpture and photography. The book is an ideal format for their work, enabling them to combine interests, skills and ways of working. They have developed a joined-up approach, either leading individually, or co-producing through negotiation and discussion. Working on location often underpins their practice. Exploring cities, urban landscapes and wild places, rummaging in junk shops and museums, searching shorelines and following river routes have resulted in a reflex action to collect objects and information, gather ideas, make images and write journals. These raw materials form the content, narrative and structure of their work.

Each book begins with a location, object, challenge or connection and develops through structure, experimentation, construction, binding, reviewing and problem-solving. What was important and enjoyable from the outset has remained. The hands-on use of materials (leather, wood, paper, plastic, book cloth, wire, fabric, metal). The narrative of words, images and found objects. The sound of a cover opening, the creak of brass hinges, the snap of magnets and the crispness of turned pages. The smell of polish, printing ink and paper. The intimate nature of books; revealing and enclosing stories through words, pictures, found objects, collage, drawing and print.

SALT+SHAW artists’ books have been exhibited in the UK and internationally and can be found in collections including: University of Southampton/Winchester School of Art, University of the West of England, The British Library, Tate Britain Library, V&A Museum, The Wellcome Trust, Manchester Metropolitan University, Glasgow School of Art, York University, Books On Books and Neil Crawford.

For further information:


Taking A Journey

As we considered the seventy five titles we’ve produced, paring them down for the exhibition, we became immersed in twenty one years of places, objects and making. The list is long, including Amsterdam, Prague, Norfolk, Spurn Point, Dumfries and Galloway, London, Ithaca, Dunadd and South Yorkshire; clay pipes, spent bullets, surgical dressings, Sheffield cutlery, scissors, coins, whalebone and piano keys; boxed, concertina, hinged, two-handed and pamphlet books, wooden, metal and plastic covers, hardback and leatherbound editions.

Back in 2002, a journey across Iceland led to our first collaboration, ‘Hair, Rock, Wood’, a boxed and bottled book containing images, text and gathered samples. Fast forward to 2022 and what began as a walk in a Sheffield park, repeated over and over during the first year of Lockdown, became ‘Ravine’, a book and short film, utilising some of the two hundred photos taken and adding a poem and hand-drawn map. In 2023, a bucket of battered toy cars recently rediscovered in a loft resulted in ‘Ambush’, which wrestles with an unexpected confrontation with the past and, once again, brings objects and location together.

The following books, chosen for the exhibition to chart our twenty one year journey, invite viewers to respond and make their own connections.

National Oceanographic Library:

  • Beach Drifting Spit – walking along Spurn Head, you find a piece of weathered aluminium and know that it will become the cover of a small book.
  • Meniscus – you dare to step into the sea, immersed in the ebb and flow.
  • Ocean Reveries – you crunch closer to the rim of the sea and sit tight as a shell.
  • Milliard – you notice yellow plastic debris along the tidewrack and decide to collect a rainbow of sea-worn colours.
  • Fergus and the Fin Whale – the whale was visible from the mainland and, at a distance, appeared to be resting upon the boulders.

Winchester School of Art library:

  • Hair, Wood, Rock – when the landscape becomes overwhelming, you pluck horse hair from a barb-wired fence.
  • Amstel Dam/Manna Hata/York – you make three snowballs and throw them from one city to another.
  • Sheaf Bridged – on a Sunday morning, you set out with a map, tape measure and notebook to find the river.
  • In Search of a Mudlark – who breathed in? Who snapped the pipe’s stem?
  • Domestic – you must fight your corner, wash paint brushes and scrub saucepans in the same sink.
  • Raft – the printing plate is a complete mystery, but it gave you an idea.
  • Fold – scissors burn, rock holds fast, paper unfolds. 
  • Nine Things To Do On Holiday – what do you do on holiday? How does the world shift and tilt?
  • Look – what, exactly, are you looking at?
  • Ithaca – on reaching the island, you decide whereabouts to leave your book.
  • Looking For Mr Orwell’s Chimneys – at night the horizon was red below the darkness, glowing softly above the faraway city.
  • Omission – when you turn the pages, the book has a hole at its heart.
  • Held – a lead weight weighs you down.
  • Ravine – your shape is inclined to shift, softly skirting the steeply sloped ravine.
  • Blade – you pare, chop, slice and peel, because Sheffield knives are an obsession long after the books are made.
  • Ambush – to avoid arguments, you were both given the same toy cars and matching Aran jumpers.


An exhibition preview will be held for WSA students and staff on 7th November 2023 at Winchester School of Art.


Connecting collections

If you're interested in this exhibition, why not explore our Artists' Books collection, which includes other books by Paul Salt and Susan Shaw.

The collection was started in the late 1960's. Since then it has grown and developed and includes a wide range of books in many formats, shapes and sizes. Particular strengths are contemporary British artist bookmakers. We also have books made by students and staff at Winchester School of Art.

Find out more here.