The exhibition of Vilnius Bookbinders Guild “BOOKbinders BOOKs”

M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art

The exhibition presents over 60 works, as well as photographs taken before and after the restoration, and a stand of the marbled paper.

With the concern to bibliophilic artistic bindings, the central axis of the creation is the text (most often classical literature or important cultural topics), while the design of a cover is moderately matched to the essence or emotion of the text, thus intensifying or complementing the artistic impact on the one hand, and accomplishing a protective function on the other. In regard to experimental bindings, the process is focussed largely on specific features and constructive diversity inherited from the history of the craft. When creating authors’ books-objects the following factors are of great importance: conceptual thinking over the function, vigour and meaning of a book in a person’s cultural life or that of a society; the scope and potentiality of non-traditional forms and materials that resound with the bookbinder’s artistic expression, ideas and spiritual experiences.

Not only samples of ancient bindings but also the craft of bookbinding is part of the cultural heritage that is to be preserved. Knowledge is necessary when restoring books. In order to develop skills and ascertain forgotten technologies, to restore the form integrity of objects and verify functional possibilities, or to employ them as methodological issues in education activities, the guild masters also carry out reconstructions and replicas of bindings of historical books. Actually, such skills are indispensable in the artistic bookbinding, too.

Vilnius Bookbinders Guild was established in 2003 and unites 20 members at present. Among the founders of the guild were book restorers at the largest libraries in Vilnius, later they were joined by several leather art masters (graduates from a well-known leather art and bookbinding school in Estonia), one graphic artist, a representative of book art, an art historian, and a connoisseur of paper marbling – all of them being related to the craft of bookbinding, in one way or another. The guilders not only restore and make ordinary bookbindings. Alongside with bibliophilic artistic bindings they create experimental or conceptual works, and design authors’ books-objects. Besides, members of the guild perform training and education practice, carry out research, participate at exhibitions and organize them themselves, thus popularizing the craft and art of bookbinding.

Curator Rūta Taukinaitytė-Narbutienė