Hilke Kurzke

I am a mostly self trained artisan bookbinder and book artist. As a teenager I was an avid reader and wrote several novels and poems for my own entertainment. I learned to play a couple of instruments, and tried myself as a composer; – again for my own amusement, and not searching for an audience. I never thought (and don’t think) they were good enough to raise the interest of others. I painted – but in a style that was considered “wrong” by my teachers. And so, although I was creative all that time, no-one seemed to notice, and it did not cross my mind to give the arts or crafts more room in my life than as something very private at the end of the day.

When I had finished school, I studied mathematics and theology to become a high school teacher. After teaching for a little more than a year as an assistant teacher, I abandoned the plan to become a full teacher, at least for a while, and accepted a scholarship to study for a PhD in mathematics. – It was a chance to concentrate once more on personal interests. I was generally applauded for that choice, and of course for finally earning the right to adorn my name with the title. So people around me were honestly surprised, if not concerned, when after finally being finished with my training as a mathematician, I decided to work as an bookbinder and artist instead. This choice came for me as a liberation from doing as expected, as a liberation from the expectation and social enforcement to earn as much money as possible.

I had made mostly blank books, and just had started to work more freely (I had made a few books which I called “books with holes”, a form of tunnel books) when I discovered that this was an accepted form of art, and that others were doing this, too. Seeing other works in the field, beginning to understand some of the history and importance of this branch of art, I realized that this was something that I wanted to pursue in earnest.

Since 2008 I have been working self employed as an artisan bookbinder. My main ambition, however, lies in the field of book arts. I have been trying to incorporate unusual materials in my works, investigating how far I can go, culminating in works with salt dough. I have been interested in the reception of literature, and tried to decode its magic through my work. And it didn’t take long that I found a way to reconnect with mathematics: In this ongoing work I feel I am finally finding a way to become whole through my art, to connect my different interests, and the seemingly disconnected parts of my biography.

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