Grey, Jenni (2006) Progress making The New bookbinder, 26 . pp. 5-20. ISSN 0261-5363
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Grey is a Bookbinder whose work explores and challenges the boundaries of what has traditionally been defined as ‘fine binding’ in a principally craft-oriented field. This invited paper entitled 'Progress Making' resulted from peer interest in her research, master-classes and previous writings for The New Bookbinder including ‘I remember …’, Volume 24 (2004). The journal has an international circulation to a specialist membership of Designer Bookbinders as well as through specialist institutions such as the British Library and to educational and cultural institutions. 'Progress Making' addresses both the method and ideas embodied in Grey’s work, beginning with a retrospective view and how she has persistently questioned the traditional elements of the craft, particularly the extensive preparation and finishing criteria that many contemporary binders still equate to ‘fine’ binding. Within bookbinding this term has yet to be superseded to describe high-quality or special binding. Grey questions traditional methods and the disproportionate focus upon refinement at the cost of the creative development and advancement of the discipline. She aims to redress the balance between the craft and design that entails reassessing the elements that qualify ‘fine’ binding. This is part of Grey’s ongoing investigation where finite definitions have proved restrictive. Grey‘s practice is almost entirely ‘one-off’ pieces through which she aims to demonstrate that craftsmanship does not equate to intensive labour. Her design methods permit more focus on the relationship between the binding and the narrative content of the text. Its context and material innovation (e.g., a recent binding of The Book of Gospels commissioned by Winchester Cathedral) illustrate this. As a designer bookbinder fellow, Grey contributes regularly to the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. The resulting bindings presented to the authors are shown at the British Library.
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