Other Exhibitions

This is an archive of selected past exhibitions, some of which were not organised or sponsored by Designer Bookbinders, or may not have involved all the Fellows and Licentiates.


COVERED: Beauty and Art in Contemporary Bookbinding

2006 | 2007 | 2010 | 2013
Click on the date to see a gallery of images from the exhibition.



JAPAN 2006

After nearly six years of planning, 'Beautiful British Books', the first exhibition to feature the work of DB in Japan opened on 22 April 2006 at the Ashikaga Museum of Art, and subsequently visited two other venues.

The exhibition was in two parts. The first part, 'Tradition, Flourish and Development', traced the history of the book in Britain, from William Caxton to the private press movement. The second part concentrated on the work of DB. In all, there were over 130 exhibits, with the exhibiting members of DB contributing forty-three bindings, all created specially for this exhibition.

'Beautiful British Books' not only marked the first opportunity for DB to exhibit in Japan, but was also the first exhibition of its kind in that country. It was also, perhaps, a first for DB in another way, in that the exhibition enabled visitors to see DB bindings within a historical context.

Ashikaga Museum of Art (in Ashikaga City) is a modern, purpose-built building with all the facilities that any exhibitor could ask for. Ashikaga is renowned throughout Japan for its flower gardens and its university (with library) dating from the fifteenth century. Although the museum was the smallest of the three venues that hosted the exhibition, the layout inside was perfect.

To single out books within the exhibition for individual merit is impossible; needless to say, the works featured represented some of the best and most well-known books produced in Britain. The exhibition explored the nature of print, illustration, binding, decoration, format and structure of the book through the centuries. The exhibition began with Caxton and continued chronologically to classic examples of the private press and studio bindery movement such as the Kelmscott, Doves and Golden Cockerel Press. The exhibition then moved seamlessly on to the second part of the exhibition, which concentrated on the work of DB. As with all the exhibits, DB bindings were housed in display cases, many of which were purpose-built for the books they contained.

The actual setting up of the DB gallery took two days and was supervised by Midori Kunikata--Cockram working alongside a team of six curators and lighting and display specialists. To Midori's surprise, one of the senior members of the team turned out to be a work colleague from some twenty years ago. Mr. Horiya and Midori had worked on a Modigliani exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art (Tokyo). Mr. Horiya had also previously spent some time living in England, having been awarded a Henry Moore Foundation Scholarship, and he enjoyed being able to help set up the DB gallery.

The work of DB was very well received and greatly appreciated. The bindings were felt to be a fitting end to the exhibition, lending a wave of colour, contrast and variety in working styles. Many of the books were in individual cases, allowing the work to be seen from all angles. Where more than one book or a series of books shared a case, Midori and the team tried to create a harmonious balance - no one book dominating - thus allowing the singular nature of the book to remain evident. A number of design sheets and notes relating to some of the work were also on display. This gave visitors a unique insight into the various processes that go into making a contemporary, designed binding. In one area of the DB gallery, a workbench had been laid out with various hand tools, bench tools, leathers and materials. Visitors were allowed to explore this area and to get a 'feel' for the book.

Many of the exhibits in the historical part of the exhibition had not been seen in public before in Japan. The Koriyama Museum of Art (the second venue for the exhibition) was happy to be able to lend many of the exhibits. Universities and other public, private and company museums and galleries also contributed to the exhibition, including the Machida Printing Museum, Tochigi Prefecture Museum of Fine Arts, Morisawa Printing and the 'K' Collection.

One of the hardest working members of the exhibition team in Japan was Ms. Hiromi Sone (of Mongosteen Inc) who, from the very conception of the idea, co-ordinated and organised the exhibition and catalogue. She also visited Britain on a number of occasions to liase with the DB Japan Exhibition Committee.

The catalogue for 'Beautiful British Books' is sewn in sections and hardbound with colour illustrations of all the exhibits. Though much of the text is in Japanese, descriptions and other details are in both Japanese and English. The forward was written by Professor Joichiro Kawamura, with Lester Capon providing the forward to the illustrations of the DB bindings.



Designer Bindings at Teesside University, Middlesbrough UK
Private View - October 15, 2010

  • 01
    Lord Sawyer
  • 02
    DB Fellow and President Elect Stephen Conway
  • 03
  • 04
  • 05
    Fiona McCarthy and Glenn Bartley
  • 06
  • 07
    Glenn Bartley, Angela James and Eri Funazaki
  • 08
    Carol Bartley, Julian Thomas and Angela James
  • 09

After the unforgettable day at the House of Lords two years previously (see below), where Lord Tom Sawyer displayed 15 commissioned designer bindings under the title ‘Socialism – A Celebration’, there was a wish to show them at Teesside University, Middlesbrough where he is Chancellor.

As part of the university’s 80th anniversary celebrations, the exhibition was planned into the events programme, and opened with great panache on Friday 15 October. Since 2008, Lord Sawyer had commissioned a further 5 bindings on the same theme, and so 20 bindings in total were on show on the night, laid out on tables so that the guests could handle the work and talk to the binders. Eight of the binders made the trip up to Teesside and enjoyed lively speeches, especially the guest speaker Fiona McCarthy, author of the biographies of William Morris and Eric Gill.

The bindings were set up in showcases by Angela James on the following Monday for a short term exhibition.

Copies of the original exhibition catalogue are available from DB price £5 (plus p&p)



Socialism: A Celebration - a collection of beautiful books

at The House of Lords, London 2008

Lord Tom Sawyer standing in front of the House of Lords


Wednesday 15 October must surely qualify as a truly unique and unforgettable day for the thirteen binders, together with their spouses and partners, when their bindings commissioned by Lord Tom Sawyer were displayed in the glorious Royal Gallery at the House of Lords.

Lord Sawyer organised the comings and goings with the precision of a Napoleonic campaign, and a full-colour catalogue, sponsored by TU ink printers, was given out to all visitors. From 2 till 6pm there was a steady flow of parliamentarians and officials of the House who came to admire the fifteen bindings. Some members, like Lord Kenneth Baker, were collectors in their own right, but others were astounded at the art and craft of the books on display, and the single-minded commitment of Lord Sawyer to bind these seminal texts in the history of British socialism

Lord Morgan gave a fulsome speech, not only praising Lord Sawyer’s endeavours and the binders’ craft, but also identifying the importance of each historic text, putting them in context as the rich inheritance on which socialism drew such inspiration. A sumptuous tea followed in the House of Lords tearoom for all involved as a special treat.

At 6pm sharp the books and catalogues were packed up and carried over Parliament Square to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. Sponsored by Thompsons Solicitors, a wonderful reception with wine and delicious canapés for over 200 guests was soon in full swing. At 7.15pm the guests enjoyed heartfelt and enthusiastic speeches from Stephen Conway on behalf of DB, Dave Prentis, the General Secretary of Unison, and The Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn MP. Lord Tom Sawyer visibly relaxed at this point after a demanding and strenuous day has now earned the peace to take his wonderful bindings home to enjoy at his leisure! However, as he is Chancellor of Teesside University, there were voices from the University asking for the collection to be shown there, so perhaps the show is not over just yet!

To see a selection of pictures from the day in the House of Lords and The Institute of Mechanical Engineers, click here.

Exhibition of bindings in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords

Lord Geoffrey Howe talking to Christopher Shaw and Carol Bartley


Speakers at the evening reception at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers
Left to right: Stephen Conway; Prof. Graham Henderson, Vice Chancellor of Teesside University;
The Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP; Glenn Bartley; Lord Tom Sawyer of Darlington;
Dave Prentis, Gen Sec, Unison




Designer Bookbinders