After purchasing my bi-monthly copy of Art & Métiers du Livre (Sept-Oct 2008) I was excited to find out that there is currently an exhibition here in Aix en Provence at the Cité du Livre entitled (and I translate here) “The Works of Albert Camus in 100 Creative Bindings”. So, of course, I could not wait to go and check it out.
The exhibition is organised by APPAR - an association which promotes the art of bookbinding. The binders have chosen to bind a particular work with which they felt a close affinity and so the works are shown grouped together by title. It is really fascinating to see how the binders have treated the same title really differently, according to their own perceptions and response to the text.
The preface to the catalogue is by Albert Camus’ daughter Catherine, in which she refers to the “peaceful alchemy”, which is the result of the coming together of meaning, written in the words of the author; the craftsmanship of the artisan bookbinder, and man’s quest to rediscover his humanity - in nature, the sea, the hills and contemplation of the evening sky.
I thought that this idea was very beautifully expressed and it intrigued me, since I have really only bound my own blank books and journal and have never attempted to bind a work of literature - trying in a sensitive and creative way to express the message of the book in the binding, the choice of materials, colour, style and design. Maybe I should give it a go!
The catalogue shows all 100 creative bindings, with large colour illustrations and it is really heartwarming to see the quality of the craftmanship of both professional and amateur binders, and the wonderful results of their personal responses to the texts, translated by their imaginations into works of art in their own right. A real feast for the eyes!
If you are interested in seeing these bindings, you will have to be quick as the exhibition is only on until this Saturday the 27th September, but the catalogue (with text in both English & French) is available through the website of the magazine Art & Métiers du Livre, price about 40 Euros.