Sunday, December 5, 2010

On books

I was first smitten by the art of the book in the early 1980s when I viewed the Book of Kells at Dublin’s Trinity College. I bought a little booklet about illuminated manuscripts, and over the past 30 years have pored over the images of apostles, of creatures mythical and (maybe) real and sighed at the talent, skill and perseverance of the monks who turned written stories into works of art.

Gutenberg did a wonderful thing when he developed movable type; for one thing, it made books easier and less expensive to produce so more of us could hold, own and read them.

Over the centuries, though, the art of the book has been slid aside in the interests of getting more books to more people.

While I have done my share (and then some) of buying, borrowing and reading inexpensive tomes, I still love seeing beautiful things that I will never touch or own.

Last week, I was delighted to visit a display of rampant twenty-first century creativity at an exhibit supplied and curated by members of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild.

There are volumes with the art incorporated into the goatskin binding. There’s embroidery, marbling, calligraphy and paint. Whimsical pop-ups, colourful cutouts and handmade paper. There are boxes and scrolls, leaves and accordion files.

I’m thrilled that people are still making beautiful, brilliant books that do much more than contain stories. They are stories.


  1. Loving your Blog! Beautiful pictures too. What a team, you and Spence.

  2. Thanks, Deirdre!

    It's very handy having a truly good photographer in the family – I love being able to share his great pictures.