Albuquerque, NM: 2016. Artist's book, one in a series of 6, all on green and brown Italian book cloth and oriental papers, "book" is covered with assorted cloth which the artist made into book cloth, signed on the colophon (behind a closed door) by the artist, Elizabeth McKee. Size: closed 8.75 x 13 x 4 inches; open 9 x 26 x 10 inches. Housed in green cloth over boards custom-made clamshell box 9 x 14æ x 5 inches including small drawer for spare batteries in the foredge of the top tray (batteries for light to shine through window illuminating the stained glass spoon). Hidden magnets used for closures throughout the book. The text and titles were printed on a Vandercook press on Rives BFK paper. The titles and poem were later embellished with watercolor painted on by hand.
The artist's statement reads, "In December 2006, while living in Moscow, Russia, I bought some raffle tickets at the International Women's Club Annual Christmas Bazaar. Rather than the hoped for airline tickets to someplace warm, I won a set of six stained glass enamel spoons from the workshop of Yevgeny Butenko - valued at $700 - and with them, a question: 'What does one do with a set of six stained glass enamel spoons?' I hope you enjoy my answer."
In the first opening of this stage set / book, one of the teaspoons is transformed into Spoon, the heroine of the poem, "Hey Diddle Diddle," dressed in her traveling cloak and waiting for the dish, Wally, to come spirit her away. On the wall to her left is a poster advertising Cat's concert. Beyond that, outside the window, Bessie the cow is jumping over the moon and a small hyena that Wally kidnapped to create a diversion is laughing plaintively. On the small table is a note from Wally confirming the time the time of his arrival, and in the drawer we find a tiny copy of the poem which celebrates this night. ("Hey, diddle diddle, The cat and the fiddle, The cow jumped over the moon. The little dog laughed, to see such sport, And the dish ran away with the spoon.") In the window behind Spoon a small light helps to illuminate her stained glass features. Turning the stage set / book around, we find the epilogue of the tale, a literary invention by Ms. McKee which is at once playful and effecting. The actors have been given histories beyond the nursery rhyme. Spoon is transformed from a young, romantic eloper into a tragic heroine trapped in the memory of her great adventure. Around the corner to the left of the epilogue is a small door, behind which is the colophon.
Ms. McKee has taken this popular English nursery rhyme dating back to at least the sixteenth century and interpreted it here as a book / stage play with all the strange elements taking roles as characters in the action. This verse is most probably nonsense, but here the anthropomorphized elements become characters in a "theatre of the absurd" production, perfectly executed and beautifully presented with wit and charm, not to mention skill. Spoon's furry traveling cloak is a very clever fashion statement! A most beguiling interpretation of one of the most well-known children's verses in the English language. Item #11146