Felicity Bristow

2021 QEST Scholar - Bookbinding

After a 15-year career in architecture, Felicity decided to follow her passions and become an artist and bookbinder. Within three years she had founded her bookbinding company But n Ben Bindery & Press, and she completed an MA in Contemporary Art Practice at Edinburgh University in 2016.

A QEST Scholarship will enable Felicity to develop her skills, learning advanced, traditional fine bookbinding structures, and understanding how they can be adapted to contemporary use. She will train with Tom McEwan—master fine bookbinder based in Irvine, Scotland—in a bespoke one-to-one series of courses and workshops, which will take place over the course of two years.  

Felicity wants to demonstrate that the craft of bookbinding is a viable and skilled contemporary craft, which has its place alongside commercial bookbinding. The craft of bookbinding presents opportunities to experiment with different structures and materials and challenge the traditional ideas of what a book is or should look like. She wants to make the Scottish Borders a centre for excellence in bookbinding, and she has identified several colleges and universities as potential partners in the area.  

I am inspired by books and buildings, by their details, materials, the intimate space they occupy and the techniques that are used to construct them. I also greatly enjoy the research and exploration of traditional bookbinding techniques and materials and the satisfaction of every stage in the process of making a beautiful book by hand.

This QEST scholarship will support the amazing opportunity to learn more advanced bookbinding techniques from a master craftsman that I anticipate will inform how I develop the offering from my bindery in the Borders, and how I explore the construction of my sculptural works relating to architectural space and the landscape.