Sunday, 9 December 2012

Gifted Paper Sculptures blow us away

The Scottish Poetry Library on a Saturday morning is usually rather quiet but yesterday over a 100 people had visited by 1pm when my volunteer shift ended and it looked like at least another 100, if not more,  would arrive by close of day, breaking their record. The previous day, Friday, they'd had 350 visitors, and the previous Saturday 400.  Though hard to find, tucked down a close off the Royal Mile and not very well sign-posted, it has to be admitted,  yet these hundreds tracked the SPL down. And why has a poetry library suddenly become so popular?

Yesterday (Sat) was the last day of the 'Gifted' exhibition of the ten paper sculptures (made out of cut-up texts from well-known poetry and books by Scottish authors) that have mysteriously  appeared at various libraries and museums in Edinburgh over the last year, plus a new one, delivered in a box labelled 'Do not open until Dec 7th' of a child reading a book and a tag  featuring a poem from Robert Louis Stevenson  'A Child's Garden of Verses' and another reference to new beginnings ('In my end is my beginning.'- T.S. Eliot, I presume.) - all charmingly reminding us of reading to children, or remembering being read to as a child, where the imagination is first awakened leading to a  love of books.

To My Mother

You too, my mother, read my rhymes
For love of unforgotten times,
And you may chance to hear once more
The little feet along the floor.

Robert Louis Stevenson

No one knows who the anonymous donor/artist is - although she is a she is known from emails. The palpable excitement of visitors was evident and I enjoyed chatting to everyone who came through the door. Wondering at the patience and precision needed by the artist to craft such intricate and minute, detailed work, we speculated on her need for  a jeweller's magnifying glass and scalpel.  She had to be a book-lover too.  Who could this artist/book-lover be?  Perhaps she was actually walking round the exhibition that very moment!  Wouldn't you, if you were her be there on the last day of the exhibition where all the sculptures would be together (minus the 5 new ones), eavesdropping on people's comments (all complimentary) and chuffed by the excitment and delight everyone was showing?  Why it might even be you, I said to an attractive arty looking lady with sparkling eyes in her 50s/60s.  She just laughed. So who knows?

 Half the fun has been tracing which book the texts have come from.  All of the books (not just poetry) are well-known to all Scottish readers and some probably internationally too but lines of text cut up into strips means they weren't all immediately apparent, but Lilias Fraser, a librarian at SPL, has managed to track them through the wonders of search engines on the net.

The mystery heightened last week when 5 more sculptures were announced via Scottish Book Trust with clues to trace their whereabouts, resulting in an excited hunt throughout Scotland. The 5 have now been found and you can see pictures and details of their locations here:

 ' She' has said she wants to celebrate the importance of keeping libraries, museums and art galleries free and OPEN!  It's certainly put the Scottish Poetry on the map. 
More on the first 10 sculptures and photos see my previous entry Blog 2011/11/11

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