Acts of Reading and Giving (Away)

Artist’s letter to Reader

Acts of Reading and Giving (Away) is a project based on books found on a public book exchange shelf in Singapore. These books were originally presents, as indicated by handwritten notes and dedications inside, and were gifted between 1939 to the last known year of 2016.

The Wife_JoeyChin
“Dear Butterfly, Saw this and thought of you…” (2016)
Found Book-Testament of Youth
Letter and pressed rose in found book (1989). “Dearest Dian, Got your photos! You look gorgeous. What’s with all these British guys to miss going out with a lass like you!”

The project was supported by an artist residency at The Art House, Wakefield, and awarded by a visual art scholarship by the Royal Over-seas League, London.

Acts of Reading assembled Readers who reviewed the books in a reading group, and postulated the reasons of why a book originally given in love, were given away. Through careful arrangements of domestic objects, companion books, and other bric-a-bracs, the acts of reading and giving (away) are imagined and explained through a sculptural and installation presence. Acts of Reading explores the different ways in which books, cultural objects, and words weighed by meaning, and how they change with social relevance as they are superimposed by one context, period, or era to another. The work contemplates the book as a gift alongside themes of cultural semantics, literary habits, and the post and intercultural condition.

Found photo in Book2
Found note in book
Found photo in Book1
Found photo in book

The work was shown at The Manchester Contemporary and The Art House.

Mother Mother We Fight Our Own Wars
Mother, Mother, We Fight Our Own Wars | Collage of artist’s mother, grandmother and grandmother’s charge in wooden frame, glass, letter and pressed rose in found book “Testament of Youth”, wooden letter-holder
Joey Chin_Contentious Behaviour_mixed media installation_2018
Contentious Behaviour |Ceramic figurines, found book “Adventures of the Wishing Chair”, paper, Tetley Tea Miniature Folk collectibles, wood chair
In The Shape of Our Statute
In the Shape of our Statute | Companion titles “Foreign Bodies”, “Love and Marriage”, and “Married Love”, found book “The Wife”, reproduced letter, and domestic items on baking tray
Prefix | Laser etched acrylic blocks, found book “The Pilgrim’s Progress” and handwritten note by Reader Nick Norton

The Pilgrim’s Progress had the words: “Dear Farrah, Congratulations on your baptism…”. Reader Nick Norton replies to the book with this letter.


Present (Present) | Companion titles, found book “A Dictionary of Modern English Usage”, and handwritten note by Reader Helen Thomas



We Become Readers | Found books originating from London, York, Wakefield, and Singapore


Readers and contributors: Rob Clarke, Jen Garrick, Dale Brendan Hyde, Nick Norton, Mandy Shepherd, Jim Souper, Helen Thomas, Sydney Thornsbury, Alexandra Vaughan