Paint Outs, Cut Outs, Tear Up Erasures

Page from Heath and Woodland Birds by Daniel Lehan
7″x4.3″; cut-out erasure from a series of ten erased Ladybird books; 2022. Courtesy of the artist.


Daniel Lehan: Paint Outs, Cut Outs, Tear Up Erasures

at the Bower Ashton Library in Bristol, United Kingdom
1 November-5 December 2023

Daniel Lehan writes about this work:

The first erasure texts I made were on the front pages of the METRO newspaper. I can’t remember if I had seen any erasure work prior to this–I was aware of those documents–often those of the government–that are censored with blocked out text, but, I think, that was all. I wondered if it was possible, to find in the headline story of the METRO–describing a national or world event–words I could use to record my thoughts or actions for that particular day, just like a diary, covering up the “unwanted” words with white paint.

Hastings & St Leonards by Daniel Lehan
6.5″x5.9″; book-cut erasure; 2023. Courtesy of the artist.

This process took time, constantly re-reading the article, finding words that fell into the right order to make sense. When this happened (and this was mostly possible) the found words ‘cut to the chase’ and highlighted a poignant moment. Since then I have erased texts, occasionally images, in a variety of ways, with paint, erasers, pens, by tearing and with scissors, and removing text with scalpel blades. Made erasures by using a typewriter with no ribbon, the metal keys damaging / destroying the text and sometimes the paper.

Working with erasures, I am taken with the idea and process of absence, the absence of something that was. A challenge is to create texts which alter the sense and meaning, even the subject, of the source material. One I have in mind is–to take, say, a car manual and create from this a love story.

This exhibition includes erased books: A Guide to the National Gallery, a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds book of birds, several guidebooks, Ladybird books–erased photographs and French texts, typewriter erasures, and an erasure of the Holy Communion Service. The Nose by Nikolai Gogol has been “totally” erased with each and every word cut from this short work, and each one placed in a box, with the invitation to then re-use these words to create a new text.

(text adapted from material provided by the artist and the venue)


Bower Ashton Library
University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)
City Campus at Bower Ashton
Kennel Lodge Road
Bristol BS3 2JT United Kingdom
+44 (0)117 32 84750

Daily, 7:30AM-Midnight