Bound Together: Two New Exhibits Highlight the Art of Bookbinding

In an era when tablets and screens compete to replace printed media, it seems important to understand the pleasures and physical intricacies of books. Two exhibits focused on bookbinding structures, held at UofL’s Archives and Special Collections (ASC) and Bridwell Art libraries, aim to enlighten visitors on these pleasures. The two exhibits, “Under Cover: Five Centuries of Bookbinding” and “Folded Books” feature unique and artful bookbinding methods.

Hanmer_Biblio-1

Biblio Tech book set. Photo courtesy of Karen Hanmer

Highlighted in “Under Cover” is the art book set Biblio Tech: Reverse Engineering Historical and Modern Binding Structures with a Focus on Board Attachment, created by book artist Karen Hanmer.  This set of model books is designed to be used by students learning new bookbinding structures.  Each of the 12 miniature books is only partially completed, allowing the viewer to see the steps taken to sew and glue the final bindings together.  To compliment these contemporary samples, several finished books will be shown at the ASC Library.

“We chose to purchase Biblio Tech due to the very instructive nature of each model,” said Bridwell Library Director Sarah Carter.  “The set comes with an instruction booklet, which students may use to learn how to sew their own book.  Our entire artist’s book collection, with over 300 items, is a teaching collection.  That means that students may examine them in person, versus looking at them in a display case.”

The book is a recent gift to the Art Library from Guy and Libbye Montgomery, Libraries donors who greatly value physical books, and who wished to support hands-on study for student learning. Another book presented within the ASC exhibit was conserved through the Montgomerys’ funding is a Little Gidding version of the Book of Common Prayer.

“I’m excited to show Bridwell Library’s new book alongside such beautiful and fascinating specimens from Archives and Special Collections,” Carter continued.  “I think that anyone who sees the models side-by-side with a finished example will have a better appreciation for the complexities of bookbinding.”

A companion exhibit, “Folded Books,” will also be on display simultaneously in Bridwell Art Library.  The focus is a small selection of artist’s books which use only glue and folded paper, rather than the sewn bindings emphasized in “Under Cover.”  Unusual bindings, such as flag books, tunnel books, and ox-plow books, will be on display.

“These book structures are aligned with pop-up books, but professional artists use these structures in their work to convey complex ideas that wouldn’t have the same effect in a more traditional format,” said Carter.

Students and faculty may contact Carter to make an appointment to see additional examples of artist’s books.

 

Under Cover: Five Centuries of Bookbinding

February 1st through April 30th

Archives and Special Collections Library

Ekstrom Library Lower Level

 

Folded Books: Selections from Bridwell Art Library’s Artist’s Books Collection

February 1st through April 30th

Bridwell Art Library

Schneider Hall 102

 



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