A Contemporary Grand Tour

A Contemporary Grand Tour, Book IX – The Camino de Santiago: An artist’s book by Mike Clements

Introduced by Mike Clements

Artists’ books are a new but fast growing artform.  Often, as in this case, the books are hand-made by the artist in small numbers.  An artist’s book may have a narrative, told over a number of pages and chapters.  It may contain images, text or both images and text.  In each case the distinguishing characteristic is that it is intended as an original work of art. 


A Contemporary Grand Tour, book IX – The Camino de Santiago is one of a series of artist’s books comprising facsimile copies of 21st century postcards sent from places that 18th-19th century travellers might have visited on their “Grand Tour.  The postcard “chapters” are “bound” in a luggage tag sleeve.  The book documents a journey along the Camino de Santiago from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, used by pilgrims for over a thousand years.  Each individual card/chapter contains a short story told by pilgrims along the route over that thousand year history.  Here is a one of the ten stories.

The tale the chickens

In the Middle Ages, a German couple and their son making the pilgrimage stopped at a hostal at Santo Domingo de la Calzada, between Burgos and Leon.  The serving girl took a shine to the young man, but he – as a devout pilgrim – rejected her advances.  The girl took revenge by planting a silver candlestick in his sack and accusing him of theft.  The law at the time had but one penalty for stealing and the young man was duly hung.  His distressed parents completed their journey to Santiago de Compostela and returned by the same route to put flowers on his grave.  To their astonishment, they found their son still hanging on the gallows and still very much alive.  They rushed to the magistrate to get permission to take him down.  The magistrate laughed at their story and replied that their son was as alive as the two roast chickens he was about to eat.  Whereupon the chickens got up, crowed and fluttered away.  Ever since these miracles, a white rooster and a white hen – said to be descendants of the risen birds – have been kept inside the cathedral of Santo Domingo de Calzada, in a baroque coop above the nave.  Some pilgrims put a white chicken feather in their hats.

Postcards printed on Simili Japon 225gsm paper

Cover printed on mi-teintes 160gsm paper using archival inks


If you would like to buy a copy, please visit www.mikeclementsartist.com

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