The Midden Heap Project
One reading of Finnegans Wake is as a massive recycling machine
transforming its sources to create a grand collage, containing fragments
of nearly everything. Joyce’s sources are well-known. They include: jokes
and stories told by his father, historical events, world mythologies, popular songs,
sacred texts, children’s games, and dozens of works of literature.
In Finnegans Wake Joyce uses the image of a midden heap as a metaphor for
artistic creation. A touchstone for the Midden Heap Project is a passage from the
seventh chapter of the Wake. This chapter, sometimes known as The House of the
Haunted Ink Bottle, describes the house of the artist Shem. The character Shem, an
“alshemist” and a stand-in for Joyce himself, transforms the objects that litter his
house into art.
With this idea of transformation in mind, Kelley is making a series of collages in
response to each page of the text using as raw material her own midden: paper
ephemera, found objects, etching and relief proofs, reproductions of her paintings,
printed matter, and the general debris of the studio.
Based upon these works on paper are a series of artist’s books. The book pages
are cropped and manipulated versions of the collages with some additions of text.
Completed thus far are the collages and corresponding books for pages 3-216 of
Chapters One and Two, pages 3- 47, coptic binding
The Trial of HCE, pages 48-74, accordion
Chapter Four, pages 75-103, accordion
In the Name of Annah the Allmaziful, pages 104-125, accordion
The Quiz Show, pages 126-168, deck of cards
Shem the Penman, pages 169-195, accordion
The Washers at the Ford, pages 196-216, accordion
House of the Haunted Inkbottle, audio CD, sound collage by
Clamshell box made by Sjoerd Hofstra
Books and slipcases are printed with Epson Ultrachrome ink on
Moab Entrada paper.
The edition size is eleven.
Heather Ryan Kelley, 2017
The Midden Heap Press
Closed clamshell box: 6 x 7.25 x 6 inches
Open clamshell box: 6 x 18 x 7.25 inches
Slipcases: 5.375 x 4.125 x 1 inch
Book pages: 5.25 x 4 inches
Jonathan Nelson’s The House of the
Haunted Ink Bottle is a sound collage
consisting of hundreds of vocal fragments
that form a reading of pages 182-184 of
audio CD, 5 minutes, 47 seconds
Chapters One and Two
The Quiz Show
Shem the Penman
The Washers at the Ford
The Trial of HCE
In the Name of Annah the Allmaziful