Faith Shannon was born in Dehra Dun, Uttar Pradesh, India in 1938. Faith returned at the age of eight to Belfast, Northern Ireland. From 1955 to 1959 she studied at the Belfast College of Art, with painting as the main, and bookbinding as the subsidiary, subject. With the winning of several scholarships came the possibility of studying at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London from 1958 to 1959. At Goldsmiths College Faith was awarded the Art Teachers Certificate (ATC) in 1960. Then followed her studies at the Royal College of Art, majoring in Bookbinding in 1963. (then an apart study under the tutorship of Roger Powell and Peter Waters). This included a visit to the U.S.A. by means of the Dublin Scholarship award.
Faith’s career began from 1963 as illustrator and designer bookbinder and in 1967 she was a member of the British Museum team at the Florence flood disaster. She was awarded the MBE in 1977 and was an enthusiastic member of the Crafts Council and the Council for National Academic awards. From 1980 to 1987 Faith was senior lecturer in charge of Bookbinding at Brighton Polytechnic. Her book ‘Paper Pleasures’ (later retitled ‘The Art and Craft of Paper) was published in 1987. Faith was President of Designer Bookbinders from 1987 to 1990. In 1999 she was awarded the Centennial medal of the Society of Designer Craftsman. She was a judge in various national and international events including the First International bookbinding competition organised by Designer Bookbinders at Oxford in 2009.
Not only did Faith organise courses at her home in Scotland from 1990 and take part in Scottish Arts Council matters, she also cared for two families and saw her own children follow personal careers with Shannon as photographer and Hannah as graphic designer respectively.
Faith worked mainly to commission on special bindings for collectors or for presentation. Each book and project offered her a different challenge – “books are containers and tactile objects of such varied content and purpose that this is reflected in each concept for a binding. The tactile and visual qualities of materials and their manipulation can evoke responses which spring directly from those suggested by the content as well as for the eventual purpose. The book offers the perfect vehicle for the combination of a painter’s eye, a designer’s training, a craftsman’s skills, an artist’s imagination, a soul, a love of invention – and a sense of humour!”
Faith was originally asked to bind one copy of Stone, but when asked about her ideas for the binding she had to say that the book lent itself to so many that she could not decide on just one. Every book needed its own binding solution but in this case there were potentially many solutions – the result was a commission to bind ten. The book details for each of Faith’s featured bindings is the same:
Poems by George Mackay Brown
Photographs by Gunnie Moberg
Published by Kulgin D. Duval and Colin H. Hamilton, Verona 1987
An edition of 125 copies
Further details about this project can be found at the website of Faith Shannon.