Beautiful Readable Objects

Over the last year, London’s Aram Gallery has looked to uncover the secrets of beautiful objects; demystifying, if not devaluing, what makes them so easy on the eye.

Kathy Abbott, The Farmer’s Boy: A Rural Poem by Robert Bloomfield (London 1820), 2008

Source: Photography by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

Kathy Abbott, The Farmer’s Boy: A Rural Poem by Robert Bloomfield (London 1820), 2008

For the next show in its series, the focus turns to bookbinding, asking us to challenge the inherited wisdom that we shouldn’t really be judging books by their covers.

Carmencho Arregui, Il Teatrino (Unknown) 2006
Carmencho Arregui, Il Teatrino (Unknown) 2006

The exhibition, entitled Beautiful Readable Objects, will showcase experimental approaches to contemporary bookbinding by members of international bookbinding collective Tomorrow’s Past.

Cristina Balbiano d’Aramengo, Nuova Raccolta d’Alfabeti Artistici (c.1860),  2007

Source: Photography by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

Cristina Balbiano d’Aramengo, Nuova Raccolta d’Alfabeti Artistici (c.1860), 2007

The group aims to create modern conservation bindings for antiquarian books, with work from nine members of the collective featuring in the Aram Gallery show.

The projects see Tomorrow’s Past lovingly take on damaged old books, returning them to functional, readable pieces of literature using modern techniques, rather than using a traditional aesthetic.

Jen Lindsay, Charles II’s speech and Lord Chancellor Finch’s speech to both Houses of Parliament at the eighteenth session of the second parliament of Charles II on 21st October 1678 (London 1678), 2007

Source: Photography by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

Jen Lindsay, Charles II’s speech and Lord Chancellor Finch’s speech to both Houses of Parliament at the eighteenth session of the second parliament of Charles II on 21st October 1678 (London 1678), 2007

The result is a beautiful combination of old and new and form and function, with each piece demonstrating a sensitive, understated approach to the restoration.

Alongside the finished books, the exhibition will also be showing pieces that hint at the process behind creating them, including maquettes of book jackets, experiments in articulating hinges and test fabrics, which visitors are allowed to handle.

Tracey Rowledge, Essays on Shakespeare’s Dramatic Characters of Richard the Third, King Lear, Timon of Athens and Hamlet by William Richardson (1784),  2007

Source: Photography by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

Tracey Rowledge, Essays on Shakespeare’s Dramatic Characters of Richard the Third, King Lear, Timon of Athens and Hamlet by William Richardson (1784), 2007

Adding further context, each maker’s work will placed with an object that help inspire it, as well as an interview about the work.

Beautiful Readable Objects runs from 22 November – 17 January 2014 at The Aram Gallery,
110 Drury Lane, Covent Garden,
London
 WC2B

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