Saturday, May 17, 2014

The XXXV International Congress of Ex Librist Catalonia-Submitted by Andrew G. Peake

Turkish delegation in the foreground

 Frank-Ivo van Damme (Belgium)

The 35th Congress got off to a good start in the seaside resort of La Pineda, Vila-Seca which is located a few kilometres from Tarragona, which is in turn located about 100 kilometres to the west of Barcelona, Spain, from the 22 April-28 April 2014. There were about 214 delegates, from 23 countries, with good representation from continental Europe, the Far East (China and Japan), the United States and a sprinkling of participants from Australia (one) and Argentina. The primary language used to communicate at these meetings is English.

The Congress was held in a seaside community catering to tourists interested in a seaside resort, with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, gymnasiums and all manner of social entertainment. Most, if not all attendees, resided at the complex. The facility provided full board, with buffet meals complete with complimentary wine at lunch and dinner. The food and wine were both great and being able to have a meal with other Congress delegates added to the conviviality of the occasion.

The organisers, the Associacion Catalana d’Exlibristes, organised a full program, with a series of lectures, generally presented in Spanish and English.  There were several excursions to Tarragona, Barcelona, the Monastery of Poblet and Reus, so that there was some interest for the spouse accompanying the bookplate aficionado. The primary feature of the Exchange Hall was buzzing with activity from shortly after breakfast until the end of the day. 

This was the first Congress since Boston 2000 were there were a significant number of lectures. All fairly short and each with only a small audience, but excellent presentations. Topics included, ‘Exlibris and Literature in Argentina’, ‘Presentation of the book, Oriol Maria Divi’, and ‘The action and communication of colour in Ex-libris’. 

A number of exhibitions were held associated with the Congress. One exhibition included the bookplates submitted for the competition that is always held for each Congress. There were 1153 works submitted from 365 artists. Six prizes were given, 12 plates received special mention and 109 plates were selected for display. It was interesting to note however that none of the winning plates or those selected were by ‘computer generated design’ (CGD).  This is a reflection of the continuing elitism of plates using one of the intaglio techniques, such as etching and engraving.  Other exhibitions were on the theme of St George (and the dragon), who is the patron saint of Catalonia, and xylography. Several comprehensive illustrated catalogues were produced on the exhibitions.

The Exchange Hall was crowded on all days and there was a continuing exchange of bookplates and also the opportunity to meet artists and if desired commission a bookplate. For those interested the going rate was about 500 euros for an edition of 50 plates by an intaglio process. Although there is a basic range of 500-750 euro for editions of 50-100 prints by the top artists.

At each Congress there is always a meeting of member societies of FISAE to discuss bookplate issues and to also confirm the location of subsequent congresses. For those interested the 2016 Congress will be in Vologda, Russia, between 22-27 August. Vologda is a smallish city between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The only issue is that it isn’t served by air and it is necessary to take an overnight train from either of these two large cities. The 2018 Congress will be held in late summer in Prague, Czech Republic. Places negotiating for future congress venues include England in 2020 (even though the English rarely attend the congresses), and Turkey is also interested in the same year.  In 2022 the American Society of Bookplate Collectors & Designers (ASBC&D) is prepared to host the meeting in San Francisco in celebration of its 100th anniversary. 

All in all the Tarragona Congress was well organised, the venue was excellent.  There was a good range of lectures and social activities, such as tours to neighbouring historic sites and cities.  And, as usual, many enthusiastic ex libris aficionados in attendance.

Andrew G. Peake

Note from Lew- Thank you  Andrew, for taking the time to send this information.
Next Sunday James P. Keenan will write about building a bookplate collection.
He has many photos of bookplates to share with us .           

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