Hackney man opens Britain’s first Dedicated Book Arts Centre

Simon Goode at the London Centre for Book Arts

Simon Goode at the London Centre for Book Arts - Credit: Archant

A book artist will open the UK’s first centre dedicated to the craft in London this Sunday.

Founder Simon Goode, 29, of Felstead Street, Hackney Wick, decided to open the 2,000-capacity London Centre for Book Arts in Fish Island, Bow to try and save the disappearing art form after he was inspired by centres in Europe and North America.

He said: “In 2011 I took a journey across the USA, from New York to San Francisco, and for me the trip was like a holy grail, visiting these incredible institutions I read about at art school.

“Returning to London last autumn and seeing how much the capital lacks the specialist skills to keep this tradition going really confirmed for me that a UK centre was invaluable.

“I want people to have access to the resources and experiences which inspired my first and most enduring love of art.”

Book arts are books conceived or made by artists that maintain the traditional structure of a book. The art form has appealed to artists over the last century including pop art artist Ed Ruscha, composer and artist John Cage and Turner-prize winner Richard Long, and has a history which is “inextricably entwined with radical movements in recent art history” from futurists to surrealists.

Mr Goode added: “I love it because it’s very accessible and democratic. It doesn’t involve a lot money invested in material.

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“For me this is art at its most wonderful and I want to share it with as many people as possible.

“These are skills that are life enhancing – they go beyond usual craft skills and are amazing and empowering – being able to create your own books, from start to finish – making the paper, typesetting, printing, binding and finishing. In our generation these are radical concepts.”

The centre will be funded by membership fees and benefactors, and will enable artists to produce their own book art by offering classes and workshops in letterpress, book binding, paper making and alternative printing.

Clive Phillpot, library director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, said: “It is remarkable that a capital city such as London has not previously had a specific centre for book arts.”