Sunday, March 09, 2014

Visiting the State Library of Victoria

I'm spending a couple of weeks in Melbourne staying with family and yesterday I visited the State Library of Victoria.

Despite living here for two years, I had only visited the SLV once before. Quite odd really, given the ceramics department of RMIT is directly across the road and I am a book artist.

I had never been to the LaTrobe Reading Room, which you can see below is quite beautiful. It's topped with a glass dome and so is wonderfully light. I wandered around quite enchanted and spent more time there than I really had.

I actually went to the reading room to see the map-based book sculptures by Nicholas Jones, who I confess I did not previously know. These proved impossible to photograph without the glass dome reflecting in the glass cases, but did make for some pretty photographs.

Next I went to see the Mirror of the World, the exhibition drawn from SLV's collection of rare and significant books - and it was wonderful. I ran out of time, and am really happy that the exhibition is a permanent feature as it is well worth another visit. 

It presents a history of books, starting with the oldest book in the library's collection from around 400AD.

Below are some photos of books that particularly appealed to me from the first half of the exhibition as sadly I had to rush through the second half of the exhibition. The photos aren't great as I only had my iPhone and of course, the lighting was kept very low. Apart from the last photo, all the books are religious ones, as of course were the earliest books. The second half of the exhibition moved on to books of litery significance and modern artists' books.

The works of Augustine from ~400, showing the oak boards through the vellum

and metal clasps (and the shadow of my iPhone!

An illustrated Buddhist text in (I think) Sanskrit.

 A scrolled edition of the Torah, with silver reading pointer.
The Koran (my favourite in the exhibition)
Japanese concertina and stab-bound books


  1. Ooh! Thank you for sharing these, Amanda. Living in an "outpost of Empire" I do miss a lot!

  2. Hahaha! Do you mean Mackay or Queensland by that?

  3. This is gorgeous Amanda. Our friend Margot, who has come three times to the Maison Conti to do printmaking, works there, so I have seen a few photos before. What an incredible collection they have!

  4. Yes, it was wonderful to see. I wasn't expecting it at all.

  5. One of my favourite Melbourne places for sure! I love that the permeant exhibition is always here for gazing upon…sigh.

    1. Yes, I'll definitely be back.