Celebrating 45 years of the ALS in Birmingham

May 2018

2018 was an interesting year for the bookmark. It needed to be a little different to reflect the 45th anniversary of the Association of Literary Societies. It also needed to support the return to Birmingham of the AGM weekend where the ALS began.

It also needed to support the work of the four quite different West Midlands authors to be featured at the conference. I thought that the challenge of two authors on the back of the bookmark the previous year was an interesting problem to solve, but Tolkein, Jerome K Jerome, Francis Brett Young and Housman were just not going to fit together easily.

Girtin-book for the marbling.jpg

It had already been recognised that there needed to be a way of unifying the artwork, and the Malala Yousafzai quote 'One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world' was suggested (which could be used by permission of the Orion Publishing Group once they had approved the artwork). This was a lovely idea although in effect this was now bringing in a FIFTH author from the West Midlands to include in the design.

One of my favourite aspects of old books with quality bindings is the patterned paper that you often find on the inside covers - the marbling. There are still experts producing these papers and you can attend courses to learn the technique. I discovered a wonderful example of marbling in the pattern on the endpapers of the book above. It's about an artist - Thomas Girtin. The book written by Walter Shaw Sparrow in 1902. Girtin was actually from London, and Sparrow was Welsh, but book production was the unifying theme here.  

I decided that a simplified version of this pattern could be an effective background for the ALS bookmark and scanned it into Photoshop. I also felt that part of the marbling pattern seemed to be geographical. The lines could perhaps be county boundary lines on maps, or aerial views of field systems, with patterns of road networks and rivers. So I simplified the original pattern, separated the gold lines from all the green and merged the idea in with a fair amount of cutting and pasting on layers. 


Even if you don’t recognise the shape of the West Midlands straight away on the back of the ALS bookmark for 2018, the design can still represent change happening in the world, which relates to the quotation.

You can see the whole collection of the ALS AGM weekend bookmarks in the print work on this website.