Once & Future

Charlotte Ashley – Book seller, collector, writer, editor, historian

May 3, 2011

My Weekend in Grimsby

Can I just say, Grimsby is a beautiful little town! I’m jealous of anyplace that gets a proper green, flowered spring, and such a spring was certainly on display Saturday when we visited for the the 33rd Annual Wayzgoose.  The atmosphere was warm, cheerful and tastefully tactile.

As a bonus, the Grimsby Public Art Gallery was also displaying The Nature of Words, a travelling exhibit of book-related art.  I saw this show when it debuted in Toronto and wasn’t completely captivated by it.  The artists represented were top-notch book artists in their various fields (binders, printers, paper makers and so on) but the focus of the exhibit was on words rather than the means of transmitting those words.  The result was a lot of out-of-context prints, banners and fragments which failed (in my opinion) to show the best of what these accomplished book makers could do.

However, in Grimsby the artists and presses who participated in The Nature of Words had their booths in the gallery, and finally visitors could see the really stunning work in book form that they produce.  These were among my favourite offerings of the show – Will Rueter’s Aliquando Press had nearly their entire catalogue on hand and I was totally taken by the lovely work Locks’ Press had on offer.  Binder Don Taylor’s booth had some design bindings on hand as well as smaller pamphlets from his Pointyhead Press.  If The Nature of Words had originally contained more of these press’s books and less “art”, I might have enjoyed it more the first time around!

But not everybody – not even book arts followers – are as fixated on books themselves as I am, and the rest of the show featured as many if not more presses and artists who work outside of the codex form.  There was a glut of cards, bookmarks, prints and posters, coasters and other paper-based curios.  This makes for incredible shopping, regardless of your interest! It’s far too easy to spend $2-$10 at every single booth in the show buying some beautifully printed bit of ephemera or another.  Which I did, I think.  How could I not?  My favourite ephemeral offering? Grocery lists from the Mackenzie Heritage Printery & Newspaper Museum:

I wish I could say I restricted my buying to tiny and affordable curios, but I did not. I couldn’t leave without this year’s Wayzgoose Anthology. These books contain one signature (a folded sheet) from each of the exhibitors. The final product is a strange mish-mash of beautifully printed poems and essays, lithographs and woodcuts, fold-out maps, hand-coloured drawings, collages and handbills. I would estimate that 100-130 of these were printed and bound, the majority of which go to the exhibitors. I NEEDED TO HAVE ONE.

Some of my Wayzgoose pages...

More Anthology pages...

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