All posts in Exhibit


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 As they grow, change and become superseded, they stand as evidence of how individuals used words and constructed meaning.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.


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


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.


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.


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

art of the book 2013

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

art of the book

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. 

art of the book


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.


Paper, Art, and the Book exhibition March 27 – May 8

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG) organizes the exhibition “Paper, Art and the Book” at Craft Council of BC Gallery, on 1386 Cartwright Street in Granville Island, Vancouver, between March 27 and May 8. Curated by Frances Hunter and Gina Page, this exhibition presents the work of fourteen artists from the BC Islands and BC Lower Mainland Chapters of the Guild, which showcase book arts such as bookbinding, calligraphy, and printing. Some of the items on display are for sale.

CBBAG lines up an impressive host of events for the next few months. On March 29, their BC Lower Mainland Chapter sponsors a workshop on book box making to be held at 1 Athlete’s Way in Vancouver.  Between April 14 and May 16 the UBC Special Collections Library is hosting the Art of the Book exhibition, with juried book arts works submitted by CBBAG members from Canada and United States. Three book artists are invited to speak about their practices in the “Creativity and Book Arts” talk on May 1, 7-8:30 pm, at the Central Branch of VPL. The Book Arts Fair on June 21, 10 am to 1 pm, at VPL, closes this fine series of book arts events.

Art of the Book Exhibition in Calgary

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, a new exhibition will open in Calgary on July 12. The Art of the Book 2013 exhibition is the sixth juried exhibition of its kind and the first to open outside Toronto. It will take place at the Museum of Contemporary Art and will coincide with the CBBAG conference on July 11-13. The show will hit the road after August 22, travelling around Canada for the next three years.

Hot off the Press: Printing in New Westminster

Hot off the Press: Printing in New Westminster

Last month, the New Westminster Museum & Archives opened an exhibit called Hot off the Press: Printing in New Westminster. covered the show recently, showcasing the work of the late Jim Rimmer in this article, History of printing in New West on exhibit. The paper uncovered the fact that some of the exhibits were loaned from my personal collection, as no exhibit on printing in New Westminster is complete without the inclusion of Jim Rimmer. From the article above:

Local collector Jason Vanderhill loaned many of the works done by New Westminster resident Jim Rimmer, a renown letterpress designer who died in 2010. He operated Pie Tree Press from his backyard workshop.

“It’s wonderful to see my grandfather’s art on display in the city where he lived and worked,” said Rimmer’s granddaughter Beth Baker in a press release.

Admission to the exhibit is by donation. The museum is at 302 Royal Ave., behind Irving House and is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

If you’ve never been to the New West Museum and Archives, this may be the last year you’ll find them situated behind Irving House. The Anvil Centre, their soon future home, is currently being constructed in the heart of town with a completion date set for the spring of next year.  

Hot off the Press: Printing in New Westminster runs until April 28, 2013. Check it out!


Handmade Papers of Vancouver’s Reg Lissel at SFU Library

An exhibit of handmade paper by Reg Lissel runs until the end of this year at SFU Special Collections, W.A.C. Bennett Library, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC.

Here’s a brief bio of Reg from the Lissel Fonds at SFU:

Reg Lissel grew up in northern Alberta and was a bookseller in the early 1990s. He owned a bookstore in downtown Vancouver before he commenced his handmade paper business. He is interested in handmade Western and Japanese papermaking arts. His paper mill is his two-storey apartment located at Shanghai Alley in Vancouver’s Chinatown. He has published a paste paper sample book, TOPOS, in 2006.

More information about the show, from SFU Library:

The traditional art of making paper by hand has not been forgotten since its conception in China during the year of 105 A.D. Industrialization, expanding rates of literacy, and an increasing need for paper led publishers to prefer machine-made paper. Thus, handmade paper is now a niche market dependent on a select amount of papermakers who embed their work with expressions of individuality.  Reg Lissel of Heavenly Monkey is one of them.

Special Collections has a wealth of material on the work of Lissel, a Vancouver-based papermaker.  The Reg Lissel Collection contains introductory drafts and paper samples of Lissel’s publication Topos: A Collection of Paste Papers (2006) along with other handmade papers created between the years of 1994 and 2010.  Many different types of papers may be found within the collection, including cotton, flax, linen, kozo, gampi, and paste.

Lissel began making paper after leaving his position as a Vancouver bookseller during the early 1990s.  His papers, the majority made with Western Canadian plant fibers, are used by artists and Heavenly Monkey, a Vancouver press.  His handmade cotton papers, on display at Special Collections, have captured his personal expressions of individuality – that being artistry and ownership – in their fibers.

The current exhibition features items from the Reg Lissel Collection and materials concerning the history and creation of paper. Check out this exhibition from October to January.