Over three days at the end of last week, the Centre for Material Texts hosted a gathering of academics, artists, health care professionals and librarians who were all interested in how we make our lives alongside books.
The keynote speakers at Living Well With Books approached the topic from a range of angles: Abigail Williams discussed the dangers of reading in bed, both now and in the eighteenth century; Elif Tinaztepe explored how library design might change communities; Miha Kovac revealed what Slovenian interior design magazines might reveal about attitudes to books; and Alison Strachan how lives might be transformed by learning the historic craft of book binding.
The conference was truly interdisciplinary, transnational and transhistorical: presentations ranged from ancient Greece to contemporary Cuba, from Renaissance Italy to the present-day NHS, and covered quite a lot else in between!
Living Well With Books was a conference with a twist: alongside regular panels and presentations, there was a series of book arts workshops designed to encourage delegates to live well with books. There were sessions on marbling with Sarah, collagraph printing with Steph from Bristol Print Room, and pamphlet making with Alison and Jonathan from Bound by Veterans. And there were other workshops too: mornings began with a writing retreat; there were opportunities to explore the Theatre Collection and to discover Clifton’s literary heritage; and there was an ideas lunch, courtesy of Brigstow, to round it all off.
The conference was made possible by the generous support of the Faculty of Arts; the Institute of Greece, Rome, and the Classical Tradition; and the Brigstow Institute.