Friday, March 28, 2014

Sint-Niklaas international bookplates and small printmaking competition

The Sint-Niklaas International Exlibris Centre, started in 1975 with the collection of Jan Rhebergen, is now hosting an impressive number of about 160,000 pieces of bookplates, illustrations and other small prints from Belgium and the rest of the world. There is a permanent exhibition that features the main engraving and printing techniques, and regular small exhibitions dedicated to a certain theme or event. Little by little the collection is registered into an online database.

Every other year, the International Exlibris Centre organizes a bookplates and small printmaking competition, usually centered around a certain theme. There is no specific topic this year, but one of the main prizes goes towards an entry focused on a portrait. This year's total prize pool for the competition is a remarkable 7,650 EUR. The winners will also be featured in various exhibitions and an illustrated catalogue. Here you can find more details, rules and registration form. The deadline is November 1, 2014.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lawrence Kreisman talk on Dard Hunter on April 14

William Joseph "Dard" Hunter's contribution to the Arts and Crafts movement in North America is indisputable in areas such as graphic design and typography. Inspired by the European model, Dard Hunter explored new ideas that enriched and were embraced by the American arts scene. Lawrence Kreisman delves into that body of work in his book Dard Hunter: the Graphic Works, which features many of the artist's designs for book covers, booklets and letterheads. On April 14, at 7 pm, Kreisman will give a talk on Hunter's evolution as an artist, and on what identifies and distinguishes his work from others.

The event will take place at the Emily Carr Auditorium in Granville Island and is free of charge.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Chester Gryski talk at SFU

SFU library is proud to present Chester Gryski's talk on his collection of private presses. The event will take place on Thursday, April 3, at 7:30 pm at SFU Harbour Centre on 515 West Hastings Street in Vancouver. Admission is free, but you need to reserve your seat in advance. See poster for details.

Chester Gryski is also an ex-officio member of the Alcuin Society Board of Directors.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Paper, Art, and the Book exhibition March 27 - May 8

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG) organizes the exhibition "Paper, Art and the Book" at Craft Council of BC Gallery, on 1386 Cartwright Street in Granville Island, Vancouver, between March 27 and May 8. Curated by Frances Hunter and Gina Page, this exhibition presents the work of fourteen artists from the BC Islands and BC Lower Mainland Chapters of the Guild, which showcase book arts such as bookbinding, calligraphy, and printing. Some of the items on display are for sale.

CBBAG lines up an impressive host of events for the next few months. On March 29, their BC Lower Mainland Chapter sponsors a workshop on book box making to be held at 1 Athlete's Way in Vancouver.  Between April 14 and May 16 the UBC Special Collections Library is hosting the Art of the Book exhibition, with juried book arts works submitted by CBBAG members from Canada and United States. Three book artists are invited to speak about their practices in the "Creativity and Book Arts" talk on May 1, 7-8:30 pm, at the Central Branch of VPL. The Book Arts Fair on June 21, 10 am to 1 pm, at VPL, closes this fine series of book arts events.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Experimental books

Some things stay the same for a long time, while others are in a continuous change and evolution. For example, who would have thought that television will not change all that much in the way we perceive and use it? On the other hand, cell phones have started as mere talking devices, which now have all the capabilities one could ever imagine. Another thing that has changed tremendously in the last two decades is the celebrity status. The celebrities today are not treated at all like their predecessors, nor do they get their badges based on real merits (this is how in our culture there are people famous for being famous). And books? They have not changed much since Gutenberg: they consist of the same parts, we use them the same way, no new features have been added. Yet, there are those who are trying to innovate within the limitations of the medium. A good example of challenging the traditional, repetitive layout of the novel is Love and the Mess We're In by Steven Marche, winner in the Prose Fiction category of the Alcuin Book Awards, and shortlisted for the Best Book Design From All Over the World at Leipzig. The author collaborated with the typographer Andrew Steeves to create innovative designs for each page that adds a strong visual component to the textual story.

The 2012 Alcuin Design Competition

Another type of experiment, Tristano, by Nanni Balestrini, is based on an algorithm. It has ten chapters each with fifteen pairs of paragraphs, which have been randomly shuffled to create the book. Tristano was originally published in 1966, but the technology to make this project possible as its author intended is only now available. The published version is just one of the billion variations possible.

Marc Saporta's Composition No 1 takes the experiment a step further: the book consists of 150 unbound pages. In this case the reader can create his or her own combination, and it is hard to come up with two versions alike. Ironically, the two copies of the French edition to be found in the British Library are bound, but each in a different order. The new British version from Visual Editions comes in a beautiful box with a red interior, in a smooth texture -- impossible to replicate in an electronic format.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

David Mason in Vancouver and Victoria

SFU and the Alcuin Society have the pleasure to present an evening with David Mason, the author of The Pope's Bookbinder, a captivating memoir that follows Mason's career as an antiquarian book seller, from his troubled beginnings as an outcast, to becoming an authority in his field. Mason's story is told with passion and humour, and it is more intriguing and adventurous than any antiquarian book seller's life has the right to be.

For a more interactive format, the event will take the shape of a dialogue between David Mason and Paul Whitney, former head of the Vancouver Public Library. They will discuss the past, present and future of antiquarian book selling, and talk about Mason's book. The author will read from his work, and there will also be time for questions from the audience.

The event will take place on April 8, at 7:30 pm, at SFU Harbour Centre, room 1315, on 515 West Hastings Street. Admission is free, but please call 778.782.4668 or email library[at]sfu[dot]ca to reserve your seat.

This will be followed by a David Mason lecture at the University of Victoria in the Mearns Centre for Learning, McPherson Library, room 129, on April 10, at 4 pm.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Book page numbers

Some things are so ubiquitous, we use them without really seeing them and take for granted. Should they disappear, however, yes, we would notice them. So what would we do without page numbers? How would we refer other people to our favourite passages? How would we quote or find different chapters? Not to mention indexes.

So here is to the first book to include page numbers, Sermo in festo praesentationis beatissimae Mariae virginis, printed by Arnold Ther Hoernen, in Cologne, in 1470. Including page numbers became a common practice among printers only towards the second half of the sixteenth century.

Reader, love thy page numbers.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Canadian books shortlisted for Best Book Design from all over the World

The Best Book Design from all over the World is an annual competition held in Leipzig since 1963.  This year, as the contest celebrates its 50th anniversary, the judges had the difficult job of sifting through 567 books selected from 30 countries, in order to pick fourteen winners. Please note that these books were produced in 2012.

The fourteen winners of the Best Book Design 2014

Canada had the privilege of having two books among those shortlisted. One of them is Love and the Mess We're In by Stephen Marche, designed by Andrew Steeves, from Gaspereau Press, which got the first prize in the Prose Fiction category in the Alcuin Book Awards. More about it here.

The other one is the poetry book Form of Forms, by Mark Goldstein, designed by the author himself. It was awarded a Honourable Mention in the Poetry category by the Alcuin Society for its unusual layout.

Congratulations to our wonderful publishers and book designers. The Alcuin Society submitted 41 books, that were winners of the 2012 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada. The books are now part of the German Book and Type Museum in Leipzig.