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Pop Up!

29 January 2011 - 24 February 2011

Nick Bantock, Marion Bataille, David Carter, James Roger Diaz, Ronald King, Lothar Meggendorfer, David Pelham, Jan Pienkowski, Matthew Reinhart, Robert Sabuda, Ruth Tilden

The collector is a book lover from a family of book collectors. Within her library she has a number of collections including architecture, literature, fine-printing and pop-up books that have been acquired for both pleasure and reference. She admits that her pop-up book collection “is very much an occasional collection”. The pleasure she obtains from the pop-up books derives, in part, from the pleasure that they provide for others, especially children. The pop-ups are kept separate from most of her other books so that they are handy for visitors to access: they are frequently used. The collector says that what she enjoys about pop-ups are the qualities of “three dimensionality and surprise”. In her mind these characteristics combined make pop-up books “readable” for any and all age groups as the qualities of inventiveness, humour, horror and surprise delight irrespective of age.

The collector particularly enjoys the structural, or paper engineering, aspect of these books together with the sound of the moving parts performing. While the term ‘pop-up’ books is a widely used general term the more correct term is ‘movable book’. This term covers any book with moveable parts and includes; pop-ups, pop-outs, transformations, tunnel books, volvelles, laps, pull-tabs and pull-downs.    

Books with movable parts have been made since about the fourteenth century and were largely confined to scholarly books. In the eighteenth century movable parts began to be employed in books designed for entertainment however it was not till the nineteenth century that the popular production of pop-up books began. Lothar Meggendorfer is the foremost maker from this time and in this selection are reproductions of two of his most famous works, International Circus and The City Park.

The collector has an interest in typography and a small grouping within her pop-up collection is of ‘alphabet’ books. Other than that her interest in pop-ups is not focused on particular themes so included in her collection are older titles that have been produced as pop-ups such as Alice in Wonderland and others that have been particularly designed as pop-ups. Leading contemporary pop-up designers, David Carter, David Pelham and Robert Sabuda are represented in this selection. Carter’s work 600 Black Spots is a straight forward celebration of the pop-up form. Sabuda’s is particularly famous for his Christmas related works and his designs have also been produced as high end Christmas cards. David Pelham, unlike the previous designers, is well known for his series of pop-ups which are particularly aimed at children.

“We profit little by books we do not enjoy” Sir John Lubbock wrote in 1887. In the light of this observation, pop-up books might be considered as highly profitable acquisitions.