Ayrshire student ties up prestigious bookbinding award

A mature student from Ayrshire has beaten off competition from Italy and Germany to win a prestigious bookbinding award. At ceremony a held last night at the National Library of Scotland (NLS) in Edinburgh, Tom McEwan was announced as the student winner of the 2006 Elizabeth Soutar Bookbinding Competition.

Hailing from Glengarnock, McEwan has been an enthusiastic book collector most of his life and in 2004 decided to take evening classes in book repair and restoration at Glasgow Metropolitan College (formerly Glasgow College of Building and Printing). Following this he enrolled as a mature student on the college's Fine Binding HNC course on a day-release basis over two years. He recently graduated from the HNC course and still attends evening classes.

Describing his binding of Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Gold Bug', McEwan said: 'The design was based on a simple pattern of squares and small circles. This was then distorted, sliced and re-arranged. Encryption and decryption is a central theme of the book and the design of the binding is, in effect, a visual representation of this process. Winning the competition is a great encouragement to continue my bookbinding studies.'

The competition, now in its 14th year and organised by NLS, has again attracted entries from across the UK and Europe, with a top prize of £1,200 for the overall winner and £600 for the student winner. The overall winner for 2006 was London-based German Annette Friederich for her binding of Virginia Woolf's 'Mrs Dalloway'.

The judges of the competition were Louise Butler of Craft Scotland, John Penman, Director of Conservation Services at Riley Dunn & Wilson Ltd and Rab Jackson, Preservation and Conservation Manager at NLS. Jackson said that Tom McEwan's binding demonstrated excellent craft skills and imaginative design, well-executed with a fine finish.'

The Elizabeth Soutar Bookbinding Competition is generously sponsored by Mrs Elizabeth A Clark (formerly Soutar) of Moray. The aim of the competition is to assist in the advancement of the practice and development of craft binding skills and, most importantly, to encourage originality and creativity in craft binding, both from existing and new practitioners.

The winning entries are donated to the National Library and added to the Library's collection of rare, old and modern fine bindings.

6 December 2006

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