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Mark Cockram


Mark discovered his passion for bookbinding and book arts whilst working in Paris. He enrolled on the bookbinding course at Guildford College of Technology (Diploma in Fine Bookbinding & Conservation), graduating in 1992 with Distinction and The William Matthews Memorial Award for the best overall student. Further tuition included bookbinding at ‘Studio Livre’ Tokyo and the London College of Printing (BA Hons) Book Arts and Crafts.

Opening his first bookbinding studio in Lincoln in 1992 and Studio 5, London in 2003, Mark works in fine contemporary bookbinding, book arts, printing, box art, installation work and collaborative works, both working and teaching various aspects of bookbinding and book arts in Studio 5, the UK, France, USA, India, the Philippines and Japan. Mark gathers his ideas and inspiration from his surroundings, aspects of the ancient and modern, people and places. His work is eclectic – once described as the Christian Lacroix of bookbinding! The work usually combines traditional and contemporary techniques and materials, modifying or manipulating, developing and creating new approaches to realise the final piece.

Mark’s oeuvre is exploratory and diverse being exhibited internationally with work represented in public and private collections including the National Art Library at the V&A Museum, the Library of Congress, The British Library, the Museum of Liverpool and The Art Workers’ Guild. Since being elected Fellow of Designer Bookbinders, Mark has been a regular binder for The Booker Prize.

Elected Fellow of Designer Bookbinders 2001, Brother of The Art Workers’ Guild 2008, Special Researcher of the USST Purple Heron Bookbinding Design & Research Centre, Shanghai 2019 and Fellow Bookbinder Purple Heron, Shanghai 2020. Owner/Curator of BASE, Book Art SpacE Gallery, London.

Mayflies of the Driftless Region with Identifications by Clarke Garry
Illustrated by Gaylord Schanilec
The Whittington Press 2005 Limited edition of 400 of which 50 in sheets.
Special edition of 50 copies with the engravings on Gampi Torinoko. 50 copies in sheets this being in sheets 3 of 13
269 x 188 x 19mm
Bound in 2019
The DeWilde Collection

Full leather binding with hand inked tooling, hand sewn end bands and hand flottage end papers and doublures. A colourful response to wonderful wood engravings of Mayflies. Multiple lines dance along the surface of the binding, perhaps the flight of the multitudes of Mayflies.

Joseph Cornell, Shadow Play Eterniday
Essays by Linda Roscoe Hartigan, Richard Vine and Robert Lehrman
Illustrated by Joseph Cornell
Studio 5 Book Arts, London
Edition: 1 of 1
265 x 242 x 65mm
Bound in 2014
With the Binder

Leather binding with collage, glass, sand, wood, mixed media etc.

From the outset I wanted to create a binding that evokes Cornell’s work, not just to copy. It would have been all too easy just to whack a couple of parrots on the cover in gold, perhaps turn one upside down (daring) and so on. What I wanted to capture was more the theatre of Cornell’s work within the book. To step away from the limitations of the cover, to expand and ignite interest.

Every time I pick the book up a new binding appears, the sound of the sand shifting, the text that is revealed at each turn of the head. The back board invites us to play as a child would, tilting the book this way and that. Waves of sand cascade over the ridges, yet when the book stands the sand becomes a solid mass, the ridges cast shadows… we begin to play with light. The frame roughly cut, painted and sanded down many times is soft to the touch. We can run our hands over it. The unseen bumps and gentle undulations are sensitive perhaps warm. There are nooks and crannies, text and image glimpsed, small sign posts.

The front board, with its half frame and map is perhaps more contemplative. The sand, with time, as it feeds from the yellow window to the deep red window opens up to an eye. We let time slip through our mind’s eye. Again, there are those little echoes and pointers. Read the book and the binding begins to give up its secrets.

Again our hands can understand what lies beneath the surface. Where the craft skills of the bookbinder need to be employed, then I have done what I can. However I have not sanded away the tiny imperfections, paper is layered, I have not hidden the working lines nor the intention that those layers make. The art is in the making but the appreciation is in the interaction with this book. Taking time to interact with this binding is what it is all about. Yes it has a sculptural quality (but then so does every book) Yet. in the hand this book becomes alive and moves towards a new and ever changing theatre.

Duende by Various
Illustrated by Mark Cockram
Studio 5 Book Arts, London
Edition: 1 of 1
400 x 280 x 20mm
Bound in 2020
The DeWilde Collection

A homage to Picasso. An exploration into the who and what influenced his work and life.

Materials used are many and diverse, including leather, book cloth, sacking, paper, packing boxes, to name a few. Techniques include hand printing, collage, oil and acrylic hand painting (other ways of applying paint are available) bri-collage and applied mixed media. A drum leaf text block, laminated board attachment with a fixed back board binding. Full ‘Coppered’ edge decoration.

Work in Progress…Evolution.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017
Please note the text block was specially printed.
Edition: 1 of 1
355 x 238 x 10mm
Bound in 2017

A double board and double hollow Bradel binding in parchment and leather. Artwork and hand collaged images taken from The Illustrated London News of 1862.

My Intention is to highlight three voices/characters who form part of the kaleidoscopic narrative in Lincoln in the Bardo: Roger Bevins III, the Reverend Everly Thomas and Mrs Elizabeth Crawford. The various colours hint at flaming hair and a yellow swimming costume. The parchment, waxy, blanched like lifeless skin at first glance, is however, marred with small cuts, creases and blemishes that corrupt the surface of the book.. much as the characters deceased, in limbo slowly decay.

BASE (Book Art SpacE) The Studio 5 Book Arts Exhibition Space. Arguably the smallest book arts exhibition space in the world with internal measurements of just 76cm x 34cm x 18.5cm. Opened in January of 2012 BASE is a unique book arts exhibition venue in South West London.

London Scenes
Introduction by John Randle
Illustrated by Hellmuth Weissenborn. The Whittington Press, 2001
Limited edition of 300 of which 60 contain proofs and a signed proof. This being XXXV of the 60.
235 x 190 x 11mm
Bound in 2020
Collection of The Clothworker’s Company

Hand dyed leather and cloth collage over sculptured boards and spine. Hand-coloured, multi-layered edge- to-edge doublures. Based on the Yamato Toji (Japanese) style binding with the addition and development of an enclosed spine. The text block (fore edge folded) is sewn into the binding with single binder’s cord using the original binding/sewing stations.

Inspired by the wonderful wood cuts by Weissenborn of a dark war-torn London during World War Two. I wanted to create an architectural binding that gave layers and glimpses of London. Arches, doorways, windows and shoring up posts move over the surfaces giving a unified fragmentation. Depending on the light source, subtle colour changes occur, weave and grain playing their part in the overall effect.

Images credited to The Clothworker’s Company.

Flottage: A cross between marbling and suminagashi using dye and a water bath.