Speaker: Dominic Riley
1 October 2019
William Morris founded his Kelmscott Press in 1890 in order to save the fine art of hand printing in Britain. When in 1896 his last book, the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, was published, it was universally hailed as the greatest book of the age. It is a huge book, with illustrations by Burne Jones and decorations by Morris, and was printed at the press in Hammersmith over a four year period. Fewer than 400 copies were produced. In 2012 Dominic was presented with a copy in a poor binding, with a view to creating a contemporary artistic binding for it. This lecture is the record that process. He will give an overview of Morris and the Kelmscott Press, and then talk about his very demanding commission — from the early designs to the completion of the project four years later. This lecture is a step-by-step look at how fine bindings are made, as well as an insight into an extraordinary artistic journey. The completed binding has been donated to the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert museum, an institution very close to William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement.
A bookbinder, artist and teacher, Dominic first learned bookbinding at 16 from Benedictine Monks at Douai Abbey in Berkshire and later at the London College of Printing. He has worked at the V&A, and for various binderies in London, New York and San Francisco, and spends part of the year teaching across the USA. He has his bindery in the Lake District, from where he travels across the UK teaching master classes and lecturing. He is Vice President of the Society of Bookbinders and was elected a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders in 2008. His binding work is mostly the restoration of antiquarian books and Design Bindings. He has won many prizes in the Designer Bookbinders competition, including both first prizes and the Mansfield Silver Medal in 2007. His bindings are in collections worldwide, including the British Library and the John Rylands Library in Manchester. In 2010 he bound a special copy of the winner of the Booker Prize which was presented to the author. In June 2013 he won first prize in the prestigious Sir Paul Getty International Bookbinding Competition. His winning binding was acquired by the Bodleian Library in Oxford.