Ex Libris : Bookplates, An Exhibition of Bookplates

Exhibition to run from June 1 – July  2014

Exhibition is free and open to the public.

Asheville BookWorks is pleased to announce their June/July exhibition, Ex Libris. This portfolio of prints is a collaborative project of the Atlanta Printmakers Studio (APS) and Chicago’s Spudnik Press. The prints in this portfolio are inspired by the tradition of personalized bookplates and relate to the themes of books, reading and literature.

Bookplates, first recorded in 15th Century Germany, are small decorative labels pasted inside book covers to indicate ownership. Well-known printmakers who have designed editions of bookplates include Albrecht Durer, Hans Holbein, Aubrey Beardsley, Eric Gill, and Rockwell Kent. At the end of the 19th Century, societies of collectors were formed in Europe that issued journals featuring members’ collections, and thus the exchange and study of bookplates gained popularity.  In addition to their importance as works of art, bookplates serve as documentation of the provenance of books.

When a bookplate is commissioned for an individual, the image often relates to the interests, career and accomplishments of the book’s owner.  Some bookplates feature a play on the owner’s name or display imagery from ancient myths and fables. The prints in the Ex Libris exchange portfolio all use these themes as a starting point.  Some of the works follow the composition and subject matter of traditional bookplates, and many artists address themes of ownership, collection, and literature.  All members of APS and Spudnik Press were invited to participate in this annual exchange and exhibition.

As a companion exhibition to Ex Libris, Bookworks has on display a selection of bookplates by Andy English, a full-time professional wood engraver living in the Fens of Cambridgeshire, England.  His personalized bookplates are created on commission for individuals and libraries around the world. The engravings are so detailed that a commission can sometimes take months to complete.  English explains, “the allure of the bookplate is to commission something which is extremely personal and which will not only see loaned books return to their bookcase but also become part of the history of that book…I have worked with clients whose tastes range from the austere to the flamboyant.” Often his bookplates feature animals, such as a bear or owl, that are of personal significance to the book owner. Sometimes a visual pun is required, or simply a significant location. Other bookplates are commissioned to match the aesthetic of the library itself: for example, a collection of Art Noveau books may have a bookplate using appropriate period shapes and text style. All of English’s bookplates are printed using a Victorian Albion handpress on acid free printmaking paper.  He always suggests that his clients paste the plates into books using archival paste from his bookbinding supplier.  When asked what he enjoys about making bookplates, English replies, “I am a very bookish person and the thought that these plates are being used in collections and libraries is a cheering one for me…I work in the knowledge that I am a very lucky person to be able to do the work that I love.”

For more information or to order a custom bookplate for a gift or for yourself: andyenglish.com