Guerrilla book sculptures

We all love Banksy: the way a humble wall can be turned into a political statement, a symbol of rebellion and a piece of art under the cover of darkness. But guerrilla art spreads far and wide, and one day last year, libraries in Scotland were the unlikely source of some of the most amazing guerrilla art ever seen.

This first piece was spotted at the Scottish Poetry Library. The incredibly intricate sculpture came with a tag:

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?)

No one knew where it come from, and despite a good amount of media coverage no one was forthcoming with information.

It wasn’t until another piece was found at the National Library of Scotland that people started to get excited.

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)

Since then, the Filmhouse, The Scottish Story Centre and the Edinburgh Book Festival have all been ‘targeted’ by the hitherto unknown benefactor, each sculpture unique, each with a poignant tagline. The piece left at the Story Centre read:

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…..

After 8 incredible sculptures in Edinburgh, the Scottish literary community were enthralled. Who was the mystery sculptor? What was their aim? Why books, and why libraries? The bittersweet answer came when a book carved cap and gloves were left in the Poetry Library, where the first sculpture was found.

It’s important that a story is not too long ……does not become tedious …….

‘You need to know when to end a story,’ she thought.

Often a good story ends where it begins. This would mean a return to the
Poetry Library. The very place where she had left the first of the ten.

Back to those who had loved that little tree, and so encouraged her to try
again …….and again.

Some had wondered who it was, leaving these small strange objects. Some
even thought it was a ‘he’! ……. As if!

Others looked among Book Artists, rather good ones actually…….

But they would never find her there. For though she does make things, this
was the first time she had dissected books and had used them simply because they seemed fitting….

Most however chose not to know….. which was the point really.

The gift, the place to sit, to look, to wonder, to dream….. of the impossible

A tiny gesture in support of the special places…..

So, here, she will end this story, in a special place … A Poetry Library …..
where they are well used to ‘anon.’

Cheers Edinburgh, it’s been fun.


But where were the other two sculputures? The tag read ’10/10′; only 8 had been found. Thankfully, a conscientious member of staff at the National Museum of Scotland had found a curious item which she handed to the curators: a T-Rex, ripping through the tattered pages of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’, complete with miniature men weaved into the page’s jungle.

The last sculpture turned up at the Writer’s Museum, a mesmeric street scene carved into Ian Rankin’s Hide and Seek.

The final twist in a beguiling tale came at the end of last year when a Twitter account called ‘a book for Xmas’ featured the following video.

The tweet read: “In support of libraries, books, words, ideas and wishing you a magical xmas.”

We know not who created these incredible pieces, but they have provided delight for thousands, and highlighted the problem of the decline of literary space in Scotland and further afield. Can we expect more in the future or has this chapter closed? Who knows, but here’s hoping.

If you like this, you’ll love amazing book art.

Pics via Flickr

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