LECTURES

Letter C

aroline has given many lectures during her career, whether at professional gatherings or otherwise. She delivered a lecture at the Historic Libraries Forum conference in 2019 entitled “Battered by bibliophiles – is damage-free access possible?”, gave an online talk on conserving the National Trust’s libraries as part of the “Together at home” webinar series run by the Book and Paper group of ICON in 2020, and lectured on packing up the books at St. Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai at the 13th international seminar on “Care and conservation of manuscripts” at the University of Copenhagen in 2011. She has lectured to the Book and Paper Group of the Institute of Conservation (ICON) on the challenges of working in situ, rather than in a studio, based on her work for the National Trust.

Caroline has given lectures to smaller organisations, such as the Trefoil Guild in Ipswich (2019) and the Loose History Society in Kent (2007), as well as National Trust membership societies, e.g. Walsall in 2017, as well as twice-daily 15-minute talks at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent as part of the programme of conservation in action undertaken for two months each year between 2014-2018. Her images are mostly taken by her during the course of her career.

In 2021 Caroline became an accredited lecturer for The Arts Society, at present offering two lectures (see bottom of page for lecture details):

  • A brief history of Western bookbinding
  • The conservation of the National Trust’s libraries
  • Hidden in plain sight – Francesco Pianta’s ignored Venetian masterpiece (Coming in 2025)

KIND WORDS

“Caroline’s lecture on a history of Western book-binding had her non-expert audience spellbound.  Her encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject, her easy-to-listen-to style and the glorious illustrations meant that everyone connected with bookbinding in a way we didn’t think was possible.  Her ability to illustrate an overview of centuries with a careful selection of detail made for a perfectly balanced lecture and it is hard to imagine anyone better equipped to entertain by education on this subject. “
Stephen Taylor, Chair of the Lansdowne Club Arts Group

Many thanks for your talk last Friday. You had our ladies absolutely fascinated – they were quiet for a change! (Quorn WI).

“Caroline gave a very enthusiastic and dynamic lecture on the conservation of the National Trust (NT) libraries. For what could be a dry subject, she certainly brought it to life with her first-hand experience and clear passion for her work. It was a really interesting talk and will make you look at NT libraries in a different light.”
Will Gilding, Programme Secretary, Leicester ARTS Society

“I just wanted to say what a wonderful lecture we had today. The speaker was forthright, enthusiastic and so knowledgeable. She grabbed my attention from the word go. I was sorry when the lecture ended. Thank you so much for inviting her to share her expertise. A stimulating morning.

“A rather ‘ niche’ subject made fascinating and amusing by an excellent speaker!”

“Caroline Bendix was thoroughly recommended to our society by our Church Recorders group, who had heard her speak previously. She gave us a lecture entitled “From Codex to Perfect Binding” and we could not have had a better introduction to the subject.”
Caroline Osbourne, Chairman and Co-Programme Secretary, West Suffolk DFAS

ARTS SOCIETY LECTURES

WHY CAN’T WE READ THEM? CONSERVING THE NATIONAL TRUST’S LIBRARIES
The National Trust’s collection of books is one of the most important in the world because the books remain in the libraries for which they were bought and in which they were read. The tangible links to people who lived in the houses comes from books, their comments, for example Harold Nicolson’s comment on Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen “It is no good pretending this is not a very bad book”. This lecture looks at the reasons why books should be conserved and how this is done, and provides an insight into the balance between reading and preservation for the scholars of the future.  
BOUND TO LEARN –  A BRIEF HISTORY OF WESTERN BOOKBINDING
Bookbinding may seem a dry subject but for lovers of books this lecture opens up a new and delightful aspect of the book in their hands. Unsung craftsmen have created bindings from the mundane to the exceptional and without bindings, very few older books would have survived. Sometimes the binding or its components are more valuable than the text, which seems weird but makes sense when delved into more deeply. A typical comment after the lecture is “I thought this sounded really dull but had nothing better to do, so came, and loved it.”
Coming in 2025:
HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT – FRANCESCO PIANTA’S IGNORED VENETIAN MASTERPIECE
(New Lecture)
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice has glorious paintings by Tintoretto, which divert the eye from “Magnificence in the Library”, an extraordinary wooden sculpture of books in a bookcase described as arguably the most important C17 sculpture created in Venice (see below). Experts have long looked only at the surface and this lecture contains ground-breaking research which looks at the carving in detail, and uses the way in which Pianta has designed the sculpture to learn more about him. Contemporary accounts say that you had to touch it to believe it wasn’t real, such was the skill of the carver.
Magnificence in the library