Being a Visionary.
It is my task, (with the help of the committee), to look at the future of the Guild, to understand the role and place of the Guild, set some action priorities as a result, and to find ways of planning to achieve those goals. The analysis has been difficult, as the complexity of the modern world and the bulldozer of technology crushes everything in its path. It has become hard to find the time and capacity to think, let alone to act.
May I say that I am very optimistic compared with this time two years ago. There have been many changes in thinking and practice, and I think we have started to see a way ahead.
One thing has become obvious to me. We need to be providing a way to communicate the importance of bookbinding, in its many forms, as an activity for the future. I did not say occupation or trade, as it seems that those days have faded. Yet there is still the demand for the production of bindings, fine, art and utility, and there will be, for a long time, the strong need for conservation and repair of printed materials. Additionally, there is an increased interest in books as an art form, both by the makers and the collectors. But I think the way ahead will be the path of the amateur rather than the trade binders of the past.
So how do we provide a way to communicate those ideas?
Our communication methods are several.
First, by newsletter and website. Second by public presentations, such as Clunes Book Town, and Mountains of Books Fair, and other major book exhibitions and sales. We also tell our message in competitions. The Canberra Guild feature highly on book exhibitions and competitions, while others emphasize the Agricultural show crafts exhibitions. We need to creatively seek new ways to communicate our message.
What is that message? That bookbinding is still important socially, culturally, and practically. And that message is declared actually having the ability to teach, share, encourage, and facilitate the skills of book binding in all its forms. This includes traditional books, utility books (those with a specific use, including presents), art books using the skills to communicate ideas, and repairs and conservation. Often the medium is the message, so teaching it is part of telling the story.
So what resources do we need for this?
First, we need people who already share the view that what we enjoy as an occupation or pastime is more than just a private enjoyment, but has a value higher than just self-satisfaction. It has a contribution to society in general.
Second, we need a location where we meet to socialize, share, encourage each other and anyone who might stumble upon our other communications. We have this at present at West Hawthorn Uniting Church.
Third, we need a workshop location allowing us to arrive for a workshop with minimal setup and clean up time, and available on a regular basis, at times convenient for users. We have part of this at WHUC but as we move past basic bindings, it’s a struggle. To this end, we have in storage a reasonable amount of equipment and materials available to us should we obtain the right premises. Keep looking for us and let us know of any leads you might find.
Fourth, we need an agenda with a greater focus on teaching. I have advocated for some time a program similar to that which Sydney is implementing. A series of graduated skill levels, commencing at basic level, and progressing to more complex skill levels as participants are able. We tried this year a very simple, low cost, basic workshop which we promoted at Clunes. Participation was excellent. We want to repeat it, and to develop the next stages as we can, with regular visiting and member tutors. This could operate out of West Hawthorn at least on some Saturdays.
Fifth, our basic modes of communication, the newsletter and the web site remain operational, however, they need regular contributions and additional resources. As I mentioned, Wendi has just stepped in as new editor; she’ll be supported by Liz with her terrific newsletter skills. However, the webmaster keeps getting emails from the website fixers, saying it’s a mess and doesn’t get the hits because the key word is missing, the grammar is terrible, the pictures don’t have search links, it needs a spell checker, doesn’t connect with twitter, facebook, instagram, Pinterest, bookbinders with suntans, and a dozen other “platforms” that I am too old to understand, and don’t have the time to follow. So that’s another place for development. If you have any ideas here, please contact us.
Lastly, can I encourage all members to get along to exhibitions, competitions and displays of books whenever you can. Take along some Guild business cards to leave at places you visit, this is a great way to promote of the Guild. Additionally, please enter and visit competitions, even if they seem intimidating. It’s good practice in both binding and exposure. So please continue to give it a go.
In all, remember the work of the committee and the Guild. It’s not for us; we exist for all of you, and the Guild exists to promote bookbinding and book crafts, individually and as a group. Are there ideas you have? Send them to us. Some contact, a speaker, or a binder visiting, or an exhibition you have seen or know about. Keep us in the loop. A special on materials, or equipment. We can bulk email to the benefit of all members.
On behalf of the committee, thanks for your support, yes, memberships are support, as are words of encouragement, so keep them coming in. I hope to continue seeing you at meetings and events. - Jim