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Alcuin Awards for Book Design exhibit opens in Edmonton

Those of you in Edmonton can check out the Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada award winners at the FAB Gallery (1-1 Fine Arts Building) until February 11, 2017 —

Great design transforms Canadian books into works of art

When the e-book revolution began, there were dire predictions about the book industry, most heralding the imminent death of the printed book. Now, a decade on, the printed book has not only survived, it is thriving, and the reason may have everything to do with design. Continue Reading…

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Charles Mayrs celebrates 70 years of work in one exhibition

As artistic careers go, not many could be more long-lasting and diverse than Charles Mayrs‘. He started his in advertising, progressing from a junior artist, to award-winning art director and writer. He built his own successful business in advertising and upon selling it he felt free to return to his passions of drawing, painting, writing and taking beautiful pictures. Charles was initiated in the art of typography by the extraordinary Robert Reid, and eventually he reached the conclusion that the medium that could best combine all his passions was the printed book, and thus he explored the elegance of letterpress printing, producing several limited edition books. Many of them can be found in the special collections of the Canadian libraries and universities. In 2009, the Alcuin Society awarded Charles Mayr the first prize in the limited edition category for his book British Columbia. In Light and Dark.

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To celebrate a lifetime of artistic work, Charles Mayrs put together an exhibition at the Visual Space Gallery, on 3352 Dunbar Street. It opens with a reception on Saturday, October 24, 12-5 pm, and it is open until October 30, 12-5 pm daily. It is worth checking it out, to experience a jolt of mental energy and wonder.

Charles’ art is eclectic and sharp, full of character and life. His figurative painting and drawing is abstract and full of mystery. His interpretation of the human body is bold, trying to communicate our anxieties and fears. In one of his poems, he explains his creed:

I paint
Because of growing wrath
I paint
To probe another path

A path decisive
With contradiction
Sordid dreams
And dereliction

I paint
For love of art
Its wonderment
Its throbbing heart

I paint
To show the pain
Of human wrongs
And things insane.

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At the Sign of the Umber Chicken: An exhibition of the work of the Poole Hall Press of Grimsby, Ontario

This private press was inspired by Carl Dair and his concern for legibility and clarity in communication. I helped him assemble the hand press he obtained from England and learned the joys of hand printing at his Orchard Press. When Carl died, I felt the need to continue private press printing and obtained by own Albion press. The Poole Hall Press is concerned with printing the work of Canadian writers and artists. William Poole in Reader, Lover of Books, Lover of Heaven (1978)

Bill Poole Interview with Morris Wolfe (1993)

MW: What is your love of printing about? What is that?
BP: The love of printing?
MW: Yeah
BP: Well, I don’t know – I just find it fascinating. I find you take a blank sheet and you put it down there, and you make it go, and that’s that. So it never ceases to fascinate me, that’s all.

This small exhibition in the Robertson Davies Library at Massey College in Toronto titled “At the sign of the Umber Chicken” has been curated by Kristine Tortora. I believe the exhibition marks the acquisition by Massey College of Bill Poole’s Poole Hall Press archive. It should not be missed.
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This exhibition honours one of the most significant persons in private press printing in Canada. Bill Poole taught industrial design at OCA (now OCADU) in Toronto. His printing began prior to 1967 and the Poole Hall Press dates from 1972. In 1979, Bill Poole convinced the Grimsby Public Library to host the first Wayzgoose and he convinced private press printers from Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario to make the trek to Grimsby. This provided an opportunity for printers to meet each other, exchange work and sell some items to the public. It was well received by all and continues to this day. In 1981, the first Wayzgoose Anthology brought together signatures from the participating printers. This is a second aspect of Bill Poole’s legacy. The third aspect is what is on display here – his own work – at the Poole Hall Press.

The two quotations above nicely sum up Bill’s views and the curator has placed each in a different case to remind us of his philosophy as we look at his work. These quotations are in addition a longer quotation from Bill Poole: A Wonderful Life by Morris Wolfe that sums up Bill as someone who “more than anyone I’ve known lived his life exactly as he wanted.”

The first case actually shows the work of another press that Bill was involved with, the Cheshire Cat Press. This was a collaboration between Bill, George Walker and Joseph Brabant. The object was to publish in Canada by Canadian hands the first illustrated Alice in Wonderland and the first Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. Joseph Brabant edited and provided the introductory text, George provided the wood-engravings for the illustrations and Bill Poole printed the each book in 177 copies. Alice was published in 1988 and Through the Looking Glass in 1998. In addition, the three also illustrated and printed a number of other Alice related texts such as Some Observations on Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell and The Origins of the Poems in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Unfortunately, we see only the covers of Alice and Through the Looking Glass, otherwise there would be no room in the case for these other items.

The Poole Hall Press was active from 1972 until Bill’s death in 2001. The second and third cases have examples of Poole Hall Press books but if there was an organizing principle as to what was included in each case, it was not clear. It might have been clear if the items identified either with the information placed on cards beside the items in the cases or identifying the items by number with an available list providing that information. A small quibble for a notable exhibition. The exhibition runs until the beginning of September. It can be seen Monday to Friday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Please check in with the Massey College Porter when you arrive.

By the way, I was left guessing about the meaning of “The Sign of the Umber Chicken”. I suggest that you visit the exhibition and see if you can solve the riddle.

[by Chester Gryski]
DictionariesFlier

Settling the Language dictionary exhibition at UBC

Dictionaries have a curious place in our society as monuments to our languages. As they grow, change and become superseded, they stand as evidence of how individuals used words and constructed meaning. When I was asked to curate an exhibition of dictionaries from the collections of Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC to commemorate the Dictionary Society of North America conference recently held there, I wanted to bring out the tensions and debates between the dictionaries in the collection by focusing attention on the greatest hits of lexicography and the lesser-known items. As I combed through the collections, I began to think about the curious and contradictory ways that dictionaries both fix, or settle a language, but also in work with one another to move a language about, for good and ill, and encourage change. I called the exhibition Settling the Language to focus on this dual role that dictionaries serve.

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Featuring items from the H. Rocke Robertson collection of dictionaries and other items at RBSC as old as 1490 and as new as 2015, I chose items that celebrate the many forms of French, English, and North American Indigenous language dictionaries that have developed over the centuries to define our languages. Ranging from early Latin and multilingual works, miniatures, and dialect dictionaries, to the grand dictionaries of Samuel Johnson and Noah Webster and the vibrant work of Indigenous language revitalization, Settling the Language reflects on the fascinating tales dictionaries tell about our words, our ancestors, and ourselves.

The exhibit runs at UBC Rare Books and Special Collections until August 15. You can visit Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm on the ground floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

-by Grant Hurley

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The Robert Bringhurst Archive at SFU Special Collections

SFU Special Collections and Rare Books has the pleasure to share with the general public a rich Bringhurst archive that covers materials from 2000 to 2013. It includes numerous printed materials, but also items that have not seen before, such as extensive correspondence, both in letter and digital format. Another valuable resource worth viewing is the manuscript of a multi-volume work in progress which explores the Native literatures of North America.

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Robert Bringhurst distinguished himself as a poet, historian, translator and typographer. His achievements were acknowledged by multiple Awards, and by the high esteem of his contemporaries. To find out more about him, and the extent of the archive, please read the article in SFU’s AQ Magazine.

The archive can be found in the display cases on the seventh floor of the W.A.C. Bennett Library on the SFU Campus in Burnaby, available for viewing 10 am to 4:30 pm.

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New Museum in Toronto Features Outstanding Calligraphy

258The new Aga Kahn Museum in Toronto features collections brought from Paris, Geneva and London. It is the first museum in North America devoted to the intellectual, cultural and artistic heritage of Muslim civilizations. The museum, a restrained and refined building by Fumihiko Maki a Japanese architect who has also done a lot of work in the US, is located in a seven acre park.

The permanent exhibition space is very beautiful and the exhibits exceptional. Being Islamic art there is a lot of emphasis on calligraphy, books and bookbindings which will appeal to many Alcuin members. If you have any doubt that letters are beautiful things have a visit and wonder at the ability of humans to transform simple things into object of beauty. In front of the building there a splendid garden. It was obvious that the employees and members of the Ismaili community are immensely proud of this institution. From the publications it is clear that there are adequate funds to undertake all aspects of the Museum’s work; curation, publications, education, music and dance performances, lectures, exhibitions, etc.

Ralph Stanton

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CBBAG Art of the Book 2013 Exhibition

If you missed it in Calgary, Victoria, Vancouver or Saskatoon, I suggest that you plan a trip to Toronto (between now and September 13th) to see Art of the Book 2013. This juried Exhibition, organized by the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG), occurs once every 5 years. It should not be missed by anyone interested in “The Art of The Book.”

The jurors for this exhibition were Jason Dewinetz of Greenboathouse Press, and book binders Karen Hanmer and Jonathan Tremblay. They selected winners in the following categories: Fine Printing, Fine Binding, Artists’ Books, Calligraphy, Paper Making, Paper Decorating and Box Making, and named Prize Winning Entries in those categories.

art of the book 2013

I was interested in seeing the winners in the Fine Printing category.

This is one particular area where the CBBAG Art of the Book exhibition connects with Alcuin’s Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada: the Limited Editions Category of Alcuin’s Awards for Excellence in Book Design and the Fine Printing and Artists’ Books category of CBBAG’s Art of the Book 2013.

I should also point out that there are significant areas where they differ. For Art of the Book, entries are restricted to members of CBBAG – although becoming a member is not difficult. CBBAG also has an international membership. The entries for the Alcuin Design Awards are not restricted to Alcuin members, but the books must be published in Canada. For Art of the Book 2013 the work had to be completed after January 1, 2010 to be eligible, while Alcuin’s Awards are restricted to books published in the preceding year.

How does CBBAG’s list of award winners compare to the Alcuin Award winners? The winner of Category for Fine Printing and the recipient of the Ontario Craft Council Award was Pressing Matters from Will Rueter’s The Aliquando Press. He was awarded a Second Place in Alcuin’s Limited Editions Category. The CBBAG jurors also selected as worthy of note for the exhibition Deor’s Lament from the Locks’ Press of Fred and Margaret Lock. It was awarded a third prize in the 2012 Alcuin Awards. The jurors also selected The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson by George Walker in the Artists’ Book category. The Alcuin Jurors recognized the book with an Honourable Mention in the 2011 Awards.

The CBBAG Jurors also selected Taking the Sun for a Walk from The Aliquando Press.

One other problem with comparing lists is that fact that the writer does not know whether a particular item was entered and so available for consideration by the jurors.

Also on display in the exhibition was Tin Roof by Juror Jason Dewinetz from his Greenboathouse Press. This was awarded a third prize in Alcuin’s 2013 Awards.

I would take from all of this the remarkable consistency in standards between different juries.

This is just a small part of an intriguing exhibition. To keep this post within reasonable limits, I am refraining from describing and sharing my enthusiasm for other items in the Exhibition. However, I urge everyone to see this Exhibition if not in Toronto then in one of the succeeding venues. If this is not possible, I urge you to contact CBBAG and buy a copy of the catalogue. It is well worth the $20 price. It provides photographs and descriptions on all of the items in the Exhibition.

Chester Gryski

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Art of the Book 2013 in Toronto

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild is proud to announce the Art of the Book 2013  exhibition to take place between July 24 and September 13 at the Craft Ontario Gallery in Toronto. Visitors can admire artifacts divided into five categories: artists’ books, binding, printing, calligraphy and box making, that explore both new and old techniques, and include handmade paper and special bindings.

For the first time, the show opened outside Toronto, in Calgary and will be touring until 2015. 

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Art of the Book Exhibition at UBC

If you have not seen the small exhibition Paper, Art and the Book organized by the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild yet, you still have time until May 8. That is an introduction to the Art of the Book exhibition at UBC’s Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections to open on April 14. This is a great opportunity to explore different aspects of book arts, from binding and printing, to calligraphy and hand-made paper.