Bernard Appassamy



Joseph's Letter

Shortlisted for the 2020 Libris Awards

Now part of the artists' book collection of the State Library of Victoria

My paternal grandfather Joseph was a devout Catholic. Before he died in Mauritius in 1960, he wrote a letter to my grandmother Ida and their eight children, as his emotional will. In 2014, for the first time, it was circulated among my extended Catholic family. The widely divergent interpretations reflected the spectrum of religious beliefs within my family and ongoing polarising dynamics around virtue. The letter also mirrored social issues fuelled by similar divisive interpretations.

My palm-leaf bound book is inspired by Grapheme–colour synaesthesia. This is a neurological condition where an individual's perception of letters and numbers is associated with the experience of colours. Each coloured page of my book stands for a character of each word of Joseph’s letter, referencing a colour alphabet from a US study in Grapheme-colour synaesthesia. I propose an alternative interpretation of Joseph’s letter, non-judgmental and alluding to the Catholic notion of the Sacred Heart.

Witthoft, Winawer, and Eagleman, (2015). Prevalence of Learned Grapheme-Colour Pairings in a Large Online Sample of Synaesthetes.

14.8 X 50 X 50 cm

Paper, PVC tubing and acrylic.

Laser cutting
Adrian, Susana and Matt from Mclaser.

Felicity Jenkins

Collection Preservation
Tegan Anthes from Collect Preserve

Solander box
Mario Zammit from Archival Products

With thanks to:
- Michael Mullins, Monica Oppen and the Sydney BAG (Book Art Group).
- My cousins Corinne Canter, Lindsay Collinson, Liz Edgerton, Jacquie Kufner, Wendy Small and Geneviève Vignes.