The 4th Annual Designer Bookbinders Competition Report from the Organisers

“The display cases were collected from London a week ago – it feels like a lifetime!

In that time, the cases have been refurbed & then built at the Bodleian. 76 books were capped up & displayed for exhibition. The exhibition opened a day early for the public to hopefully enjoy.

The Bodleian hosted the prize giving ceremony on Wednesday evening (the 6th July 2022) attended by some 120 people from many countries. 25 of our silver prize winners attended, and the Oxford University Student prize recipient, along with a good number of the exhibiting binders. The catalogue was launched on this evening.

A fabulous meal was enjoyed by invited guests at the Divinity School hosted by the Bodleian Librarian Richard Ovenden following the ceremony. 40-50 binders & their guests headed to see out the evening at the St Aldates Tavern, with some making it to closing time, but hopefully the tab didn’t exceed the budget set (haven’t had that conversation with Mr Bennett yet!).

The social media team at the library filmed a handful of bindings & carried out audio interviews with their creators – look out on the Bodleian’s Instagram account for these.

There were four visits to college libraries – All Souls, Magdalen, Merton & The Queens College.

What can only be described as a stunning visit to Wormsley was thoroughly enjoyed by 19 of the winners, the organisers, Rachel Ward-Sale (judge), James Brockman (DB Fellow & Wormsley library expert) & some of our fabulous colleagues from the Bodleian who have worked hard to help make sure the exhibition & associated events have been a success. The highlight was of course the fabulous collection in the library, but the lunch on an island in the middle of lake was amazing! It really is a special part of the prize for our winners, and we are incredibly grateful for Mark Getty’s very generous hospitality.

Friday brought the start of the Festival of Bookbinding. Six lectures and demonstrations took place over the two days. Subjects such as decorative techniques, full vellum binding and the minimalist tight flat back binding were demonstrated to the audience. Lectures were the past, present and future of British bookbinding, a look at the Bodleian’s recent acquisitions & an entertaining look at the question “to bind, or not to bind”.

A well stocked Trade stall was well attended & popular on Saturday. Designer Bookbinders Fellow Chris Shaw experienced his first random fan interaction!

Along with the show and tell style demonstrations of gold finishing, forwarding, box making and paper marbling the trade stall saw double the public engagement interactions that the Bodleian had hoped for.

In the past few days we have caught up with bookbinding friends and colleagues who we haven’t seen for a long time & we have met many lovely new people.

We are exhausted, but hope from the positive comments that the whole event has been a success. Thank you to everyone who has been involved – it has been hard work, but worthwhile. We are taking two days off. It is our 24th wedding anniversary on Monday. Anything that needs dealing with will be attended to from Tuesday.
Over & out!

Louise & Stuart”