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“The books created by artist Basia Irland seem like remnants of ancient oceanic cultures, communiqués from long-forgotten denizens of the planet’s murky depths. Her hefty, carved wooden books – inscribed with salt crystals, estuary sand, seashells, lichen, seaweed, salmon bones and other fragments of the earth and its waters – could have been used by alchemists trying to transform nature’s elements into gold, or by magicians invoking the powers of the wilderness. Her sculpted books possess a language of their own, a lyrical and ecological poetry that speaks volumes about the mysteries of nature and the inextricable links between humans and the environment.”

Lynn Cline, writer


“Basia Irland’s carved wooden books use materials that come from what she finds at specific sites. There are narratives buried in these books of nature, or Hydrolibros. The ‘texts’ they contain relate associatively to ecological issues. In one book made in the Dominican Republic, Irland used fragments of crocodile skulls. She’s also used turtle shells, for example, or salmon bones, always from specific contexts. She conceives of all of her work as a kind of library-in-process, a living, transforming archive within which the gaps in maps are inviting and active. Irland creates a kind of international ecological language as text. And I think it was Thoreau who wrote something about decayed literature making the best soil.”

Dr. David Williams, British writer


These hand-carved wooden books are coated with natural materials found at specific sites (often “telling” stories of environmental degradation) and inscribed on the edges to resemble paginated volumes.


Select Hydrolibros are available for purchase. Please contact for additional information.

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