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The Estonian Association of Designer Bookbinders has organised the international exhibition and competition of artistic bookbinding Scripta manent (Lat. the written remains) in every 5 years since 1995. The competition is open to everyone accepting its terms and looking for free expression in the field of artistic bookbinding. The last three Scripta manent exhibitions have been focused on specific topics from Estonian culture.

The evolution of the Estonian artistic bookbinding began in the first decade of the 20th century and was connected with Eduard Taska, whose 120th birthday we celebrated in 2010. This year we also celebrate the anniversary of the first book printed in the Estonian language 485 years ago. The tradition of Estonian bookbinding is a century old. Lively activity of bookbinding exhibitions began between 1960 and 1980. The first international exhibition of artistic bookbinding took place in 1990 in the Applied Art Museum in Tallinn. The Estonian Association of Designer Bookbinders with its Scripta manent’s ideas continues the tradition of international exhibitions of artistic bookbinding in Estonia.

Tormis - a composer mediating the narrative of our folk music to the contemporary world - was chosen to be the topic of Scripta manent IV because “the compositions by Veljo Tormis unite the primitive and contemporary perception of life, the music that has been sung and will be sung again and again. He revives to the audience the prehistoric spirit of our ancestors and helps to perceive the true nature of the Estonian runic song – the world that existed in ancient songs and still continues to exist nowadays“ (Estonian composer Mari Vihmand, Kultuurileht 1995).

The bound text consists of 4 lectures where Veljo Tormis speaks about his creative work and the genesis of the Estonian folk music: Finding Of a Folk Song, 13 Estonian Lyric Folk Songs, Curse Upon Iron and Estonian Ballads. The text - printed in Estonian and in English - is exemplified with musical notes. The sets of sheets are accompanied by a CD that contains excerpts from folk songs as interpreted by Veljo Tormis.

These texts gave the bookbinders freedom to artistically interpret the music, a substantial part of our existence. The artists’ excellence in binding the Estonian folklore into the form of a book was evaluated by an international jury that selected out 28 works in April. The Golden Book Awards, the Best Student Prize and all other prizes has been handed over to artists at the festive opening of the exhibition on September 28, 2010.

The Scripta manent IV exposition in the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design contains classical bookbindings as well as book-objects full of fantasy from 171 artists from 22 countries: Ireland, Spain, Holland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, United Kingdome, Finland, Sweden, France, Switzerland, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, USA, Germany, Australia, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Russia and Estonia. This time the number of participants is bigger than ever before, in spite of a rather intricate task to interpret the runic songs of a small northern nation (the number of Estonians living in Estonia is approximately 1 million) and their contemporary mediator Veljo Tormis.

In the documentary by Peep Puks “A Re-Found Song”, 1977, Veljo Tormis says that “Runic song is the most original creation of our nation, it was born and developed together with the people and language and lives on in our genes. To understand a runic song one has to let it through oneself, sensing its essence by hearing. Only then we perceive the deepness of the song, its picturesque nature, the chiming of its sounds and flexibility of its rhythm - all that remains hidden when merely reading.”

All project Scripta manent IV “The Word Was Sung” has been prepared during four years by the enthusiasts-bookbinders Lennart Mänd, Rene Haljasmäe, Tulvi Turo, Sirje Kriisa and Tiia Eikholm from the Estonian Association of Designer Bookbinders, supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Estonian Ministry of Culture, Estonian Artists’ Association, Estonian National Culture Foundation, National Library of Estonia, Estonian Academy of Arts, Estonian Leatherwork Artists´ Union, private persons, etc.

More information on the Scripta Manent website.

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