Dublin Art Book Fair: where artists and book lovers connect

The fair is a meeting ground across the disciplines of art, architecture, literature and design

The Dublin Art Book Fair is now in its ninth year

The Dublin Art Book Fair is now in its ninth year


Dublin Art Book Fair began nine years ago as an experimental idea to create a space within our gallery programme, where we would feature the latest books on art, design, visual culture, select fiction and related fields, as well as presenting a platform for the artists’ books – handmade, one-off and limited editions, made by artists.

It quickly became evident that there was a real gap in the availability of these kinds of books and a real interest from the public, artists and book lovers in discovering such unique finds within the creative atmosphere of our street-facing gallery at Temple Bar.

Dublin Art Book Fair is Ireland’s only such book fair and 2019 will be its ninth edition. It has evolved into a special interdisciplinary event that takes place annually. Partnering with the architectural firm Henry J Lyons and Dublin Unesco City of Literature has enabled us to appeal to a wider audience and connect to the city’s various cultural institutions, collections, libraries, museums.

Each year, we invite a guest curator from the field of art, architecture or design to consider a theme and present an extended programme of events and public talks, which alongside artist-led workshops, book launches, readings and commissioned artworks adds to the special character of the book fair.

Unlike other fairs, where the publishers attend and present their books, we research and select the publications and have built relationships with over 50 publishers, Irish and international, big and small, from Sternberg Press to Fitzcarraldo: from Curlew editions to Red Fox. We invite a range of people – artists, academics, curators, designers, writers and others – to nominate books inspiring to them. This too makes for a richly diverse and eclectic range of books in various genres with a mix of new, unusual and classic publications. There really is nowhere else where you could possibly find such a fascinating array of books.

DABF is keen to become a centre for the artist book and has commissioned four artists, Chloe Brenan, Catriona Leahy, Richard Proffitt and Tamsin Snow, to make new books for the 2019 fair. These will be featured alongside at least 20 other invited artists exhibiting their books.

Dr Kathleen James-Chakraborty, professor of art history at University College Dublin, is our guest curator. In a theme titled Learning from the Bauhaus, she is considering how the 20th century’s most innovative and influential school of art, craft, design and architecture continues to influence 100 years on. James-Chakraborty is a specialist in the area of early and modern architecture and American and German modernist architecture. She has published extensively on the subject, with a keen interest in exploring how politics, culture and embodied memory provide essential understanding of her subject. So interweaving ideas of legacy and learning is central to her programme.

In a public talk she will consider housing as the major issue in Dublin today. Looking to the dilemma that Bauhaus architects faced, she asks, “were they to look to aesthetics for their answers or focus on simply making better housing for working and lower middle classes?”

She invites one of the world’s leading architectural curators and writers, Martino Stierli, who is the Philip Johnston, Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art New York, to present on his recent publication, Montage and the Metropolis – a ground-breaking new work that charts the history of montage in late 19th-century urban and architectural contexts to its application by the early 20th-century avant-gardes.

There are other fascinating talks, such as one by Dr Kerry Meakin from TU Dublin, who will look at the art of window display, exploring the influence of Bauhaus on the design of the shop window and its interior display.

From workshops to book launches and open studios, there are numerous events taking place throughout the fair that make this annual programme so unique and rich. We are constantly interested in strengthening DABF to support a porous approach in considering what can happen, always connecting to the idea of books, art, visual culture, artists, learning and ideas. As such, for the opening weekend, artists Sean Lynch, Michele Horrigan and curator Jo Melvin present a symposium, Publication Scaffold, on artist-led publishing, with contributions and performances from several international artists, curators and writers.

DABF is constantly surprising. The heightened enthusiasm, support and great conversations that take place, amongst the books, artists and people, within a very creative atmosphere of the gallery, is enriching for me and the organisations (Temple Bar Gallery + Studios). It all links back to what we are about – connecting artists and contemporary art to the public – and it gives us additional impetus to be a meeting ground across disciplines (art, architecture, literature, design) . And there is always the wonderful possibility of coming across a brilliant book or buying an affordable gift of art.
Cliodhna Shaffrey is director of Temple Bar Gallery and Studios ( TBG+S).  Dublin Art Book Fair runs from November 21 to December 1

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