Monday 17 July 2017


Literary Edinburgh: Book Sculptures

On my recent visit to Edinburgh, the majority of my plans (unsurprisingly) revolved around books. After all, Edinburgh was named the first City of Literature by UNESCO back in 2004 for a good reason. What I didn't expect, was quite how many bookish things and places I'd come across. Way too many for a single blog post, so rather than cramming them all into one piece, I've split up my bookish Edinburgh guide by: sculptures, people, food, places and book shops. And today I'm kicking it off with the mysterious book sculptures that appeared across the city a few years ago and are now on display in various literary location. 

Prior to going to Edinburgh I'd been speaking to the Visit Edinburgh team who alerted me to a cool project they were working on, and has since launched, called The Story of Edinburgh in 101 Objects. A rich resource of things to seek out when visiting the city in its own right, with a literary focus in mind it was even more interesting as there were several things listed that hadn't come up in my research yet, most prominently the miniature paper sculptures made from book pages that have mysteriously appeared in key literary locations in Edinburgh over the years.

Included in 101 Objects, is The Poetree, which was found in 2011 by a librarian at the Scottish Poetry Library and was the start of the mysterious sculptures appearing across Edinburgh created by an anonymous artist with the message 'in support of books, libraries, words, ideas'. How cool is that?

The Scottish Poetry Library was the first place we visited after arriving in Edinburgh, and I am so glad it worked out that way as I managed to pick up a map covering where all of the other book sculptures are on display across the city and I made it my mission to find each one during our visit.

The Poetree – Scottish Poetry Library (gifted in March 2011)
The bunting features lines from Edwin Morgan's poem 'A Trace of Wings'

A Child's Garden – Scottish Poetry Library (gifted November 2012)
Made from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses

Cap and Gloves – Scottish Poetry Library (gifted November 2011) 
Based on Norman MacCaig's poem 'Gifts'

Street Scene – Edinburgh Writers' Museum (gifted November 2011)
Crafted from a copy of Ian Rankin's 'Hide & Seek', which in turn was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'

Dragon's Nest – Scottish Storytelling Centre (gifted July 2011)
Made from Ian Rankin's 'Knots & Crosses' and with links back to poem 'Beowulf'

Cinema – Edinburgh Filmhouse (gifted June 2011)
Includes Victor Hugo's 'Les Miserables' and Ian Rankin sits in the audience

Tea, Cake and a Book – Edinburgh Central Library (gifted August 2011)
Found during the Edinburgh International Book Festival it features the strapline from the Scottish Poetry Library 'By Leaves We Live'

Lost in a Good Book – Edinburgh Central Library (gifted August 2011)
Constructed from James Hogg's 'The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner'

Magnifying Glass – Edinburgh Central Library (gifted August 2011)
Includes a quote from Edwin Morgan's 'Collected Poems'

The Butterfly Tree and the Lost Child – Edinburgh Central Library 
This is the last sculpture that mysteriously appeared and is almost life-size!

It was hard to take photos of the statues in their glass cases and so my pics definitely don't do the incredible pieces and their detail justice, so I highly recommend you pick up the map, and perhaps even the accompanying book, at the Scottish Poetry Library to follow the art along the trail for yourself. The book even features photos of the awesome sculptures that are not on public display, so it's well worth it!

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