Community. Engagement. Advocacy. Humor.
Those of you who don't keep up with Edinburgh's literary world through Twitter may have missed the recent spate of mysterious paper sculptures appearing around the city.
One day in March, staff at the Scottish Poetry Library came across a wonderful creation, left anonymously on a table in the library. Carved from paper, mounted on a book and with a tag addressed to @byleaveswelive - the library's Twitter account - reading:
It started with your name @byleaveswelive and became a tree.…
... We know that a library is so much more than a building full of books… a book is so much more than pages full of words.…
This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas….. a gesture (poetic maybe?)
Next to the 'poetree' sat a paper egg lined with gold and a scatter of words which, when put together, make "A Trace of Wings" by Edwin Morgan.
Nobody knew where it came from, nor was anyone forthcoming with information in person or online, despite a fair amount of local news coverage.
It looked like this was a one-off, a beautiful and delicate piece of art created by a fan of the Poetry Library. Until, in late June, the National Library of Scotland found themselves the recipient of a similar piece.
A gramophone and a coffin, sculpted from a copy of Ian Rankin's Exit Music, and again deposited anonymously. The tag in this case read:
For @natlibscot - A gift in support of libraries, books, words, ideas..... (& against their exit)
And soon afterwards, the Filmhouse had a pleasant surprise!
This time the sculpture is a complex scene in a paper cinema; punters arrayed on seats watching men and horses coming alive from the screen and charging outwards.
For @filmhouse - A gift in support of libraries, books, words, ideas..... and all things *magic*
Amongst the audience is a figure with Ian Rankin's face, clutching a Deuchar's.
Finally (so far), in early July the Scottish Storytelling Centre found a dragon nesting in a window.
Once again carved from a Rankin novel, they don't know how long it might have been sitting there unnoticed as it's quite well hidden. Perhaps the loveliest tag so far:
For @scotstorycenter - A gift in support of libraries, books, works, ideas..... Once upon a time there was a book and in the book was a nest and in the nest was an egg and in the egg was a dragon and in the dragon was a story.....
Nobody knows whether there are more to come and if so, where they might appear. Some say the newly opened National Museum, others suggest the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It's all a bit exciting!
Having been on display in the Scottish Poetry Library for a few months, the poetree is now kept behind the counter for safety, but if you ask nicely I'm sure they would let you have a look.
The National Library's gramophone is in a display case near the front door.
The Filmhouse's cinematic diorama is currently not on display.
The Scottish Storytelling Centre's dragon is probably going to estivate during the Festivals to avoid any possible manhandling by infant hordes but will surely make a return in the autumn.
UPDATE: The dragon has been moved out of harm's way but is still visible to the public!
UPDATE 24/08/11: Two more appeared today at the Edinburgh International Book Festival!
One, addressed to @edbookfest (the Book Festival), was left on one of the signing tables in the Bookshop.
The tag on this reads:
To @edbookfest 'A gift' This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas...... & festivals xx
It includes a teabag filled with cut out letters, on the tag of which are the words "by leaves we live". The cup on the top has a swirl of words which read " Nothing beats a nice cup of tea (or coffee) and a really good BOOK", and on the 'tray' next to the cupcake it says "except maybe a cake as well".
The other, addressed to @edincityoflit (UNESCO Edinburgh City of Literature), was secreted about their stand in the entrance tent.
To @edincityoflit 'A gift' LOST (albeit in a good book) This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas.... "No infant has the power of deciding..... by what circumstances (they) shall be surrounded.. Robert Owen
Intriguingly, this is crafted from a copy of The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinnerby James Hogg.
The tag reads:
This book is not only a favourite of the City of Literature team but is also known to have been an influence on Ian Rankin's work. So far quite a few of these sculptures have overt links to Mr Rankin, suggesting this is no coincidence. As Ian was due on site later in the day and had not yet met any of these creations face to face, the @EdinCityofLit team introduced him to their new baby.
Former local Guardian beatblogger Michael MacLeod and all round top journo was on the scene to file a swift report. The Book Festival's blogger also shared with the world, and @edinCityofLit's Anna has a mention of them...
Once the latest additions to the family have found offical homes I will update with further images and information...
Another has appeared in the Central Lending Library on George IV Bridge.
Taking the form of a book with a magnifying glass mounted atop it (made of paper of course!) it was left on a shelf and was unreported for at least a couple of days.
For Central Library ‘A Gift’ @Edinburgh_CC This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas…. LIBRARIES ARE EXPANSIVE
The word ‘expensive’ has had the E crossed out and replaced with an A. No question of the creator’s views on library cuts… The tag then notes, “Words on book – Edwin Morgan”. No talk of Rankin this time!
In the news:
A plastic cover has been placed on it and for the time being at least it is on display where it was left.