FISAE Open Ex-Libris Competition
Report of the Jury

Members of Jury:
Prof Dr Martin R Baeyens, Anne Desmet RA RE, Andy English, Peter Ford RE RWA, Dr Wuon-Gean Ho

This has been an unusual year with many uncertainties. As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic the 2020 FISAE Congress had to be cancelled and there could be no physical exhibition. Nevertheless images had been posted in good faith by 287 artists from 39 countries so it was agreed that the Jury should make a selection from these which could become an online exhibition.

Social distancing made it necessary to manage the selection online, so Jury members, who are all artists, had to base their selection on scanned images. This was not ideal. It was more challenging for the Jury to do this than to select from the original works, partly because the scale of the images was not immediately visible and the quality of the paper was not seen. Sometimes inappropriately thick paper was used. Also it is easier to check and identify technical processes from the original artworks. For example digital reproductions of watercolours were not valid submissions whilst original designs created digitally were within the rules. Sometimes artists did not describe their artworks accurately or in full.

The main purpose of this exhibition was to include and reward bookplate design specifically. I advised the Jury to assess the effectiveness of the submitted designs as bookplates. From my previous experience as a jury member and as an artist maker I recognise that it is common to be seduced by technical prowess. But a well-made small print with hidden minimal text does not fulfil the function of a bookplate and is not what the regulations for this competition asked for. The balance between design and legible text remains a challenge even in some of the works selected for this exhibition.

As the international submissions continued to arrive it seemed that, unfortunately, some artists had not understood the regulations or perhaps had submitted their work without having seen the regulations at all.

A consequence of online selection was that the time available to the Jury could be stretched beyond the usual time limit of one or two days. There were many works of good quality that appealed to different members of the Jury and it was a challenge to agree on the prizewinners. Five prizes have been awarded, each one of equal value. In addition one prize, as designated by the donor, was to be for an artist under 35 years of age. There were very few student submissions and of those many did not adhere to the rules so no student prizes could be awarded. Jury members took the view that it was appropriate to modify the prize structure announced in the Regulations, so that all six prizes were of equal value.

The regulations asked artists not to abbreviate Ex libris to Ex L. This short form is now habitually used by bookplate designers and it was frequently employed by artists submitting work to this competition. Because some of these high quality designs used Ex L or were without a clearly stated dedication I have decided to include, at the end of the slideshow, a number of examples of these despite the inadequate text element. By doing this we hope to make clear the idea of an ex-libris as primarily a label to assert the ownership of a book.

There is no plan to issue a catalogue. This would have included a listing of names of artists whose work was selected for exhibition, together with their country and email address (unless held back). This listing is available on request. Competition statistics are found here.

Peter Ford RE RWA
Chair of the Jury
12 August 2020

FISAE Open Ex-Libris Competition
with Awards by
the Keith Wingrove Memorial Trust

We invited artists from all countries to participate in this competition. It aimed to promote the commissioning of contemporary exlibris and encourage use of all techniques for their production.

In addition to a first prize of £1,250, subsidiary open prizes were on offer plus additional awards for student artists resident in (1) the UK & Republic of Ireland and (2) Australia, New Zealand & Canada. This reflected our particular desire to encourage participation by young artists currently studying art.

This competition was organised by The Bookplate Society on behalf of FISAE, with the prize pool generously sponsored by the Keith Wingrove Memorial Trust. In addition, Ms Christine Bell had kindly donated funds for an extra award.

Keith Everard Wingrove (1910-1995) was an Australian-born collector of art, books and exlibris. He was a member of The Bookplate Society and well known to the international exlibris fellowship of his time. Of note, Wingrove had personal pictorial bookplates designed by Mark Severin, Yoichi Kenmoku, Derek Riley, Norman Lindsay and Lionel Lindsay. The Keith Wingrove Memorial Trust was established to conduct the Australian Bookplate Design Award which is itself running a separate competition with high value prizes (entry deadline for that award is mid-October 2020).

Regulations for the International Exlibris Competition held in conjunction with the 38th FISAE Congress in London 12-16 August 2020

1. Artists of all nationalities and all ages can submit work for this exhibition. There is no entry fee.

2. The deadline for receiving entries has been extended from 31 March 2020 to 31 May 2020.

3. All artists should remember that an ex-libris is an individually designed label with the function of identifying the ownership of books. Under its statutes, FISAE is a federation of ex-libris societies. Its competitions and exhibitions are thus limited to ex-libris and are not open to free graphics. Every ex-libris submitted must contain the text EX LIBRIS in full (no abbreviations) or alternative words of book ownership. The design must include the full name of the owner. Initials are permitted for given names, for example P.J Smith. The owner must be a living person or existing institution.

4. All graphic techniques capable of producing multiple images including computer generated design (CGD) are eligible.

5. No unique drawings, photographs, photocopies, sketches or copies of original work are eligible.

6. Ex-libris must have been made in the period 2018 to 2020.

7. Ex-libris must be printed on paper not larger than 210 x 150 mm (A5). The longer side of the design should not be more than 140 mm.

8. Each participant may send one, two or three different ex-libris. Four examples of each design should be sent.

9. There is no set theme for this competition. The jury will evaluate the effectiveness of the design for its function as a label identifying ownership of a book. Jury members will look for harmonious integration of text with image. Good quality lettering will be of importance to the jury. It is essential that text is of sufficient size to be clearly readable.

10(i) The artist must sign and number each print in pencil below the image.
10(ii) On the reverse the following details must be given: First name and family name of the artist (in Roman alphabet); and the work number as on the entry form (1,2 or 3).
If transparent paper has been used, the details requested in 10 ii (above) should be typed on a separate piece of paper and sent with the ex-libris.

11. Any script may be used within the ex-libris design but if it is not in English please provide an English translation on a separate piece of paper.

12. The participant must complete and sign the entry form and send it together with the graphic prints in one flat package. Artists wishing to be considered for the prizes restricted to students should provide details of their college/school, of their course & year, and have their form signed by their head of department. The jury will verify these details before a prize is awarded.

13. All material submitted will become the property of the organiser of this competition. No material will be returned. It is intended that a full set of all ex-libris submitted will be deposited permanently in Australia with the State Library of Victoria.

14. All submitted works will be evaluated by the jury of five persons: Martin Baeyens, artist; Anne Desmet RA RE, artist; Andy English, artist; Peter Ford RWA RE, artist and curator (Chair) and Wuon-Gean Ho, artist and writer. The decision of the jury is final.

15. By submitting work to this competition the artist agrees that, in relation to the event, images can be used at the discretion of the organisers for exhibition or publishing by FISAE and/or its member societies.Outside this competition standard copyright rules apply.

16. At the time of issuing these rules (May 2019) it is not known whether or not there will be external financial support to enable design and printing of a full colour catalogue of material chosen for exhibition. A more modest alternative may have to be adopted. It will not be possible to send copies to artists free of charge.

17. Prizes: Thanks to the generosity of the Trustees of The Keith Wingrove Memorial Fund, also a donation by Ms Christine Bell, the jury will award

a FIRST PRIZE of £1,250,
a SECOND PRIZE of £750,
and a THIRD PRIZE OF £500.

In addition there will be THREE FURTHER PRIZES of £500 each, namely
the CHRISTINE BELL PRIZE for an artist under 35 years of age, and
(1) an art student living in either the UK or the Republic of Ireland, and
(2) an art student living in Australia, New Zealand or Canada.

These prizes will be awarded on the occasion of the congress exhibition opening ceremony on Wednesday, 12 August 2020.

18. The Jury has the right not to award a prize, or to reallocate prize monies if considered appropriate.

19. The deadline for arrival of the artworks is 31 March 2020. Ex-libris received after this date will not be accepted for the competition. The address for sending the work is:
Off-Centre Gallery, 13 Cotswold Road, BRISTOL, BS3 4NX, United Kingdom.
Please write on the outside of the packet:
Ex libris competition. PRINTED MATTER, not for commerce.
Customs forms, if required, should declare the material as a gift. Do not put a value greater than £12.

20. In the context of this event participants' details will be shared with competition organisers, jury members and included in the catalogue listing.

21. By submitting material each participant confirms that this is his or her own work and agrees to be bound by the competition rules.

22. If you have any questions please contact us by email to

Entry Form

When sending in your entry, please look again at regulations 12 and 19. Then print and complete the
and the Jury and congress exhibition colleagues very much look forward to receiving your entry.

Another international exlibris competition running this year has the title
Trakai Peninsula Castle: Unicorn, a Symbol of Cultural and Historical Heritage.
This is because Trakai has been declared Lithuanian Capital of Culture for 2020.
For full details of how to submit entries go to FOURTH TRAKAI EXLIBRIS CONTEST.
There are prizes but submissions must be mailed no later than 29 May 2020 inclusive.

© The Bookplate Society 2020