25 August - 16 December 2022

Textiles have played an integral part in the evolution of books. Since the early appearance of the codex (the book form we are most familiar with), threads have been used to sew pages together; stitches have the delicacy and strength needed to fasten the pages securely while still allowing the book to open easily. Different sewing styles have developed to suit various mechanical functions or stitches have been left exposed for their own decorative impact.

When all books were handcrafted and highly prized, expensive materials like velvet and silk could be used to create lavish embroidered covers. For centuries, paper itself was made from cotton. When wood-pulp superseded cotton as the preferred substance for papermaking, textiles were still used on the hardboard covers, and the versatility and durability of cloth heralded a new age in book cover designs for the mass market. Today most books are covered with paper and bound with adhesive, although hardbacks are still sewn for strength and you might find a decorative headband here, a coloured ribbon there.

Now it is usually artists who do the most intriguing and innovative things with textiles and books. Fabrics and threads are used to influence the performance or feel of the object, or to communicate something about its meaning or intention. This display shares a few examples from Leeds Arts University’s collections of Artists’ Books, Photobooks and Illustrative Books.

Presented by the team at Leeds Arts University Library.

If you would like assistance with your own research, or would like to view the Special Collections, please speak to a member of the Library team.

25 August – 16 December 2022
Blenheim Walk Library, Leeds Arts University, LS2 9AQ

This exhibition is available to view from 10am-4pm Monday to Saturday. Entry is free but booking required for external visitors. Please email to make an appointment.

ThreadsImage: Bind us together by Barbara Summers, photographed by Laura Wood.

  • 25 August - 16 December 2022
  • Blenheim Walk Library, Leeds Arts University, LS2 9AQ