Fore-edge painting

January 11, 2008

Here’s something I never knew existed: fore-edge painting. I stumbled across this in the local library recently, where they had a display of such works by an artist called Martin Frost.

I’ll attempt a description.

  • Take a fat paperback book.
  • Hold it face up (closed) with the spine in your left hand and the opening edge in your right.
  • Fold the spine down and under until it faces the floor.
  • Note that the pages on the opening edge have fanned out so that a tiny sliver of each is exposed, creating a largish surface.
  • Fore-edge painting involves painting a picture on that surface.
  • When you shut the book the picture disappears.

Aha, you say, but won’t you see a painty mess on the closed edges? Well yes, you would, but if you then gild the edge the painty mess disappears leaving just a shiny gold face. It’s fantastic!

A picture paints a thousand words and video paints several pictures a second, so check out the examples on Martin’s web site. It’s even more amazing when another picture is painted on the other side of the pages so you have two hidden paintings in one book. How very clever.

Even more surprising is that when I rushed home and explained this discovery to BishWife, she said “Oh yes, Martin Frost. I remember him explaining to me what he did once.” Turns out they are acquainted through her Morris dancing activities. Small world.


5 Responses to “Fore-edge painting”

  1. martin frost Says:

    Hello fellow Morriser (by marriage perhaps) If you or anyone else feels a need to know any more about the curious book art of FORE EDGE PAINTING, I can always unstrap the bells long enough to give lectures or even workshops on the subject. Just say hello through the website …….

  2. Dave Ackroyd Says:

    I have come across a website of another fore-edge artist. It has lots of info on the background of fore-edge painting and a wonderful gallery of work by the artist as well as very affordable work for sale.
    Check out

  3. Fascinating. If you have the chance to take a look at it in the flesh, do. It’s quite mesmerising.


  4. martin frost Says:

    Hi Bish.. I never did find out who BishWife was to thank her for passing on the FEP information….I owe her a beer I think!
    Martin F.

  5. martin frost Says:

    Hi again Bish…were you aware that a bunch of SOMPTING VILLAGE MORRIS scroats and scroatesses featured on Dizzee Rascal’s recent music vid ‘Dirtee Cash’
    ‘Cool and Groovy’ or what?
    Also please update the Sompting website link to:

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