Lyall Harris and Patricia Silva, “The Dreamer The Doer”

Book tied into enclosure box

Spine and cover detail

Title page and overall structure detail

Opening spread

Middle spread


Lyall Harris and Patricia Silva (San Francisco, CA)

The Dreamer The Doer
vellum envelopes, decorative accordion spine, cutouts and silhouettes, housed in a box
Edition of 2
6 pages
Dimensions open: 7 1/4 x 14 1/8 x 14 1/8 in
Dimensions closed: 7 1/4 x 14 1/8 x 5/8 in

The Dreamer, The Doer takes inspiration from Molly Peacock’s book, The Paper Garden, about the botanical collages of 18th century British artist Mary Delany and from botanical woodcut prints of this same period. These literary and artistic sources were the starting point for book artists Patricia Silva and Lyall Harris.

Their collaboration process begins with one artist providing the inspiration and starting materials; the receiving artist then works for 2 weeks, bringing the project to a “halfway” point, materials may be added or edited during this phase without straying too far from the initial supplies provided; the project is then given back to the originating artist who finishes the books in two weeks time (edition size 2).

In this project botanical cutouts and silhouettes are equal protagonists to an excerpt from Peacock’s book interwoven with original text by the artists. Peacock’s writing addresses issues surrounding craft and perfectionism while the artists’ text, about a father and son, weighs a productive life against a poetic one.

Technical/material description: The books are tied into a folded enclosure; text is inkjet printed on vellum paper envelope “pages” which contain silhouettes, 18th century botanical images, seeds, and paper cuttings; these pages are sewn into a accordion-folded spine; a decorative outer spine is made from layered collage elements inserted into the external accordion pleats, creating a sculptural effect.

In all of the joint projects to date, the finished books seem rooted in a unified aesthetic and made by one hand. More than a set intention, this is a natural outcome of the collaboration between these two artists.