Why don't they serve a breakfast-buffet", I heard an American lady exclaim. "It's so much easier."
We were seated in the beautiful great hall of Christ Church College and were being served a real English breakfast with toast, marmalade, sausages, eggs and bacon, surrounded by the portraits of the kings, noblemen and other important people who had during centuries studied here and had been served breakfast this very same way.
When I am in the United States, I enjoy American efficiency, but while we were in Oxford, at the New Horizons conference, organized by the Designer Bookbinders, I enjoyed the centuries-old tradition still alive there. And I presume that most attendees felt it a privilege to be housed in Christ Church, one of the most prestigious colleges in Oxford.
We came from Holland with a small group of bookbinders. To meet binders from all over the world and to talk about bookbinding all day gives one new impulses and new inspiration. At the demonstrations and lectures there were so many interesting subjects treated, that it was impossible to attend them all.
Paul Johnson from Manchester showed us his original pop-up books and we discovered that bookbinding and dancing have something in common. Sün Evrard from Paris and Mechthild Lobisch from Germany proved that there are always new constructions for bookbindings possible, which opened up "new horizons" for us. J.A. Szirmai from Holland presented selected papers from his History of Bookbindings techniques.
One of the American speakers, Judith Hoffberg, talked on bookworks, and Andrew Hoyem from San Francisco told us about his edition bindings. Seminars were given by, among others, the American binders Tim Ely, Hedi Kyle, and Frank Mowery.
And last, but not least, there were the Fellows of the Designer Bookbinders, of which I mention Angela James, the President, and James Brockman, who demonstrated his rigid concave spine and who took the initiative for this meeting. They all contributed with their interesting speeches and, above all, with the several years of preparatory work, to the success of this conference.