The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 9, Number 4
Jul 1985


Bookbinding Conference in Australia

Australia is a country almost as large as the United States, but with a small population--only 1/16th that of the U.S. The bookbinders there are as passionate about their craft as they are anywhere else, but found it hard to get together on a national basis until recently. The following report by Jeanette Ruxton was submitted by Murray Millar, a paper conservator who is secretary of the Craft Bookbinders' Guild, Inc.

The First National Conference of Craft Bookbinders -Australia was held in Canberra from 9 to 11 November 1984. Up to that time, bookbinding activities in Australia had been very much confined to the separate state guilds of which there are now five in existence (the first was formed in 1977). This conference, therefore, brought together for the first tine people from all over the country (and also from New Zealand) and gave them an opportunity to meet others with similar interests. The conference committee had rather hopefully planned for 80 participants--120 attended!

There were four international visitors at the conference--Edgar Mansfield, who delivered the keynote address, and Slim Evrard, Hugo Peller and Anthony Cains, who each gave a lecture, demonstration and workshop.

Following the official opening, the first day's activities consisted of a choice of tours: to three private Canberra binderies; to the conservation laboratories of the National Library of Australia, the Australian War Memorial and the Canberra College of Advanced Education; and a viewing of collections at the National Library of Australia, the High Court of Australia and the Menzies Library, Australian National University.

Lectures, demonstrations and workshops were scheduled throughout the second day and the morning of the third. The international visitors were naturally in great demand, but the offerings of the Australian craftspeople were many and varied, e.g. Bradel binding, papermaking from plants, graphite edge treatment, and a lecture on a private press.

Additional conference activities consisted of a trade display (well attended by some 15 companies/individuals), an exhibition of work by conference participants, and the conference dinner, which was addressed by Morris West, Australian author and President of the National Book Council.

The conference concluded with a forum session at which the international visitors spoke encouragingly of what they had seen at the conference of Australian bookbinding. They exhorted us to keep up the good work despite the frustrations that the "tyranny of distance" creates as far as procuring materials and being exposed to current trends is concerned.

The conference was a resounding success and it is hoped that another will be held in two or three years. Discussion is currently underway amongst the various guilds as to whether some form of national amalgamation would be feasible and appropriate.

The conference report is presently being prepared for publication. A united number of copies will be available for purchase. For further information, contact Editor of Publications, Craft Bookbinders' Guild, P0 Box 322, Kingston, ACT 2604, Australia.

Murray Millar furnished the following information:

The 48-page exhibition catalog is available for $8.00 from Crafts Council of Australia, 100 George St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia. (It contains articles by Mansfield, Middleton, and major binders from each country represented, describing bookbinding activities in their country, as well as 22 pages in color.) the following are the addresses of the Australian craft bookbinders' guilds, all of which have their own publications:

New South Wales: Ms. Maureen Arnott, Secretary
Guild of Craft Bookbinders
P0 Box 111 Glebe
Sydney, NSW 2037
Victoria: Mr. David Adama, Secretary
Victorian Bookbinders Guild [Inc.]
P0 Box 167
Kew, Melbourne, Victoria 3101
Queensland: Ms. June McNicol, Secretary
Queensland Craft Bookbinders' Guild
110 Andrew Ave.
Tarragindi, Brisbane, Queensland 4121
Western Australia: Mr. Fred Pritchard
Western Australia Craft Bookbinders Guild
9 Opal Way, Armadale, 6112
Western Australia

Craft Australia, in its Winter 1984 issue, has an eight-page review of the exhibition, which includes articles by Edgar Mansfield and Hugo Peller.

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