Earlier this year I was honoured to work with NZ publishers Blackwell & Ruth, on a very special limited edition, in celebration of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela.

The edition is presented as a clam-shell box containing a book of 16 paintings by John Meyer, depicting Nelson Mandela’s inspirational life story. Alongside the book a folder holds fine art prints of the paintings.

 Clam-shell Box 

Clam-shell Box 

 Book

Book

 Folder

Folder

If the subject matter alone wasn’t enough in terms of scale, the physical proportions were epic! An entire set measures 53 x 44 x 9cm, weighs 11kg and 33 sets were created in total.

The Binding Studio is located in the bottom storey of my house and mostly I work solo. Over the Christmas break I rearranged the studio, making space for the huge quantities of materials and working surfaces needed.  I put out my "bookbinding bat signal" and assembled a dream team of 3 other bookbinders, whilst conversing with all the outworkers that would play a role in this too.

Then during 9 weeks over April and May the Mandela 100 Limited Edition came to life.

It’s hard to explain the construction of each part or give you a sense of the hours that went in, the processes involved, the physical-ness of making by hand in such large dimensions…… but here are some images and videos captured along the way.

Two months since the project left the studio and a week after Mandela’s birthday, I'm still in awe of what my team and I accomplished. I am humbled to have been asked to create a limited edition that's not only beautifully compiled, designed and printed, but adds value to humanity in celebrating the life of this prolific figure. That’s what being a bookbinder is about; preserving and sharing knowledge, history and memories- to have had the opportunity to do this in such an extraordinary way…. I'm slowly coming to terms with the magnitude of this achievement. In the words of the great man himself:

It always seems impossible until it’s done.
— Nelson Mandela

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