New Zealand Book Symposium – Inside Outside

The Association of Book Crafts 2014 Symposium was like a breath of fresh air. The keynote speakers, Julie Chen, Dominic Riley and Michael Burke were funny, interesting and very approachable.

I was asked what I thought about the conference. Interesting was my initial reply. I don’t think that word does it justice. Symposiums of this calibre allow for ideas to be freely exchanged, explored and lack of funding bemoaned.

I gained great vigour of thinking when Lesley Kaiser showed us around her bindery at Auckland University of Technology. I was inspired by her enthusiasm for teaching paper engineering to her design students and that the University had a pretty well equipped bindery.  I could only wish for the same.

Lelsey KaiserHer design students certainly embraced all aspects of paper engineering and basic bookbinding to create wonderful artist books. We were able to see some on display in the foyer:

AUT student work 1

AUT student work 2

The conference proper included a variety of talks on book arts: about letterpress, about conservation, about career decisions. The trade tables were small, but there was a lot of letter press to be examined and bought, much more than at the previous two conferences I had attended.

Australian book artists formed quite a good contingent, and it was delightful to renew acquaintances, as well as meet new bodies.

I am still young in my bookbinding journey; the paper I gave on historical bindings in the National Australian Collection was very well received, and I got some excellent feedback, very useful for my next presentation this year.

Italian endbandsI was very excited to show images of all sorts of interesting historical binding techniques not usually seen by the public.

Comb lining of recycled materialComb linings, often made of recycled materials, are not visible if the book is intact.

Peter Whitehead’s talk on the history of stationery bindings proved to be a good introduction to my own, as we were both speaking on the same era of bookbinding, and he had also done Prof Pickwoad’s course 15 years ealier.

Michael Burke’s introduction to the Nag Hammadi codexes was fascinating and riveting. Discovery, murder and revenge make it all sound like some Agatha Christie plot. His images and explanation of the 13 codexes really made me want to take his workshop in Canberra. However I can’t do everything. Maybe next time.

We had morning teas, lunches and afternoon teas at which to talk, network, exchange ideas and opinions. The NSW Guild  is scheduled for the next gathering; however I don’t think we need to hurry to meet again. Maybe 2016 sounds good for a few more exciting speakers and amazing demos.


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