Saturday, 17 December 2011

Sculptor gone animated

A mysterious new Twitter account called "a book for xmas" has appeared and is tweeting @ various recipients of sculptures and others involved.

The tweets read "In support of libraries, books, words, ideas and wishing you a magical xmas" and links to a stop motion video Christmas card on Vimeo:

Those mentioned are: @byleaveswelive, @CuratorEMG, @NatLibScot, @MichaelMacLeod1 (journalist who wrote up the story extensively on the Guardian), @TalesOfOneCity, @NtlMuseumsScot, @EdinBookshop, @HughesPeg (formerly of @byleaveswelive), @Edinburgh_CC, @ScotStoryCentre, @EdBookFest, @EdinCityofLit, @AnnaNotKarenina (formerly of @EdinCityofLit), @Filmhouse, and apparently @chrisdonia would have if I hadn't noticed and remarked upon it already...

Friday, 25 November 2011

Paper Sculptures - Gotta catch them all!

Yesterday afternoon staff at the Writer's Museum found something atop the donations box in the Robert Louis Stevenson room.

Paper sculptures - 8 of 10

A wonderfully atmospheric street scene with what appears to be a silvery moon with wisps of cloud hanging from it. This tag reads:

"@CuratorEMG A Gift
"The stories are in the
stones" Ian Rankin
In support of Libraries, Books,
Words, Ideas ...... and

And the 8/10 in the corner, confirming that we've found them all!

Paper sculptures - 8 of 10

The cover says, "the stories are in the stones / Ian Rankin" ...

Paper sculptures - 8 of 10

...which is fitting as it has been sculpted from a copy of Ian Rankin's Hide and Seek.

Paper sculptures - 8 of 10

Inside the book are an array of people with birds on wires and a streetlight...

Paper sculptures - 8 of 10

Paper sculptures - 8 of 10

There are even goings-on visible behind some of the windows, as well as a pentagram scrawled on a wall in red with the signs of the zodiac around it.

Paper Sculptures - 8 of 10

Along the front of the scene have been placed the words, "commingled out of Good and evil;" Misha Hoekstra pointed out that this is a line from Jekyll & Hyde, "I have observed that when I wore the semblance of Edward Hyde, none could come near to me at first without a visible misgiving of the flesh. This, as I take it, was because all human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil," and that Ian Rankin has said of Hide & Seek that he was hoping to create an updated, Edinbugh-based version of Stevenson's story.

Paper sculptures - 8 of 10

The curators are looking into ways to display this piece although it's possible that it will have to live in a different venue due to considerations of space - the Writer's Museum is absolutely packed with stuff! They're terribly happy with it though; apparently they had been hoping to receive one and now feel very lucky to have had one of the last three.

So this seems to be the end of the story. There is talk of organising some sort of exhibition but so far it's just an idea. Some of the 'gifts' are viewable anyway - those in the Scottish Poetry Library, the Scottish Storytelling Centre and Central Library (the gramophone in the National Library seems to have been temporarily displaced). The rest will hopefully find a place in the public eye and I'll keep an eye on them as I have grown rather attached.

Many thanks to whoever has been crafting and distributing these magical objects, and thanks on behalf of the creator to those who have followed their discovery with such infectious delight.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Paper Sculptures: The final chapter

"It's important that a story is not too long ......does not become tedious ......."

There was a flurry of excitement when someone at the Scottish Poetry Library spotted this note in their guest book:

Paper sculptures - the end!

"Hopefully next time I'll be able to linger longer - I've left a
little something for you near Women's Anthologies X. In support of
Libraries, Books, Words and Ideas...."

A quick dash into the library led to the discovery of another gift.

Paper sculptures - the end!

The tag on this read:

"To @ByLeavesWeLive.......
THE GIFTS "Gloves of bee's ful,
cap of the Wren's Wings......."
Norman McCaig
.... maybe sometimes impossible things...
In support of LIbraries, Books, Words

And with the suspicious addition in the corner reading 10/10.

Paper sculptures - the end!

So here we have a cap made of a wing.

Paper sculptures - the end!

A wing, of course, made of exquisitely crafted paper feathers.

Paper sculptures - the end!

And with it a pair of paper gloves...

Paper sculptures - the end!

... made in the texture of a bee.

Paper sculptures - the end!

And an explanation!

Paper sculptures - the end!

"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 be-
cause 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.'

But before exiting ...a few mentions. There could be more, because we
have all colluded to make this work....... Just a few though.

- the twitter community who in some strange way gave rise to the idea in
the first place

-@chrisdonia who gave the story a place, a shape and some great pictures

- and not least @Beathhigh whose books and reputation have been shame-
lessly utilised in the making of a mystery ........

...... But hold on. Someone's left behind a pair of gloves and a cap..........?

Cheers Edinburgh It's been fun!


A wonderful end to a wonderful story and a lovely mention for a humble photographer! But talk of ten sculptures had everyone a-flutter. There were only eight we knew of, what of the remaining two? Could they have been lost? stolen? or worse, thrown away by someone who didn't realise what they had found?

Mercifully the answer was forthcoming the next day. The National Museum of Scotland had received a gift, found on the plinth under a skeletal stag. A consciencious member of staff had found it and passed it to his supervisor, thinking it might be something more than average lost property. It soon made its way up the chain of command until it came to rest in the Director's office for safety.

Meanwhile the museum staff were abuzz with the imminent arrival of their millionth visitor since reopening (which was a surprise as that wasn't really expected until about August 2012) so they didn't have time to tell the world about it until that had died down.

And so another is unveiled!

Paper sculptures - 9 of 10

A Tyrannosaurus Rex, bursting from the tattered leaves of a book. And what book could it be other than Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World?

Paper sculptures - 9 of 10

The tag here reads:

"For @NtlMuseumsScot A Gift
Your friends at @edbookfest
suggested you might like this.
.... In support of libraries,
books, words, ideas and those
places that house our treasures......"

And in the corner, 9/10.

Hidden amidst the tattered leaves of the book are tiny men with weapons that probably wouldn't do much damage to the beast, as its bloodstained jaw seems to prove.

Paper sculptures - 9 of 10

Paper sculptures - 9 of 10

Paper sculptures - 9 of 10

The museum hope to exhibit this to coincide with the 26 Treasures series.

And what of the last?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Paper Sculptures - do we want to know?

The Edinburgh Evening News claims to have discovered the identity of the sculptor. The general view is that We Don't Want To Know...

Friday, 16 September 2011

Poetree Update

The 'poetree' is now on display in the reception area of the Scottish Poetry Library.

Poetree update

Which has clearly had the desired effect, as the comments book next to it shows:

Poetree update

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Festivals 2011: Going out with a bang

Every year in Edinburgh the Festivals season is brought to a dramatic and loud climax with the Edinburgh International Festival’s fireworks concert. The last week of August is usually filled with people trying to figure out when exactly it’s happening, having spent the preceding weeks either immersed in or hiding from the festivities...

2009 Edinburgh International Festival Fireworks

I’ve viewed these displays of pyrotechnic excess every year since they started (I shan’t mention when that was but I was young enough to fall asleep during the concert because it was past my bedtime) and have been completely spoiled. Having one of the world’s largest and most impressive sets of explosive devices hanging overhead once a year, getting better all the time, means that anything in a back garden on November 5th is about as exciting as lighting a dicky gas hob.

2010 EIF Fireworks
2010 Edinburgh International Festival Fireworks

This sort of thing doesn't come cheap. Word on the street - well, internet - suggests that there are to be around £1million of fireworks set off this year. To cover this expense, over the years the event has been sponsored by Glenlivet (who commissioned Carl Davis to compose the ‘Glenlivet Fireworks Music’, which I remember singing at school and miss dearly) and latterly the Bank of Scotland. This year Virgin Money are the sponsors - having opened offices in the city centre they're throwing money at all sorts of things this year - and the EIF invited people to come up and tour the preparations for this year's event.

Fireworks prep

I thought I would be clever and take the spare camera so I wouldn't have to fumble with lenses but in the post-Festival haze I then left the main camera at home so was left fumbling nonetheless. Tsk.

Fireworks prep

Once through the inner gate of Edinburgh Castle the outer wall is layered about eight feet deep with racks of explosives and wires running between them like a pasta chef's mad dream.

Fireworks prep

In days of yore the fireworks were triggered manually in time to the music, using little boxes like these. Unfortunately, some of the music at the concerts can be a bit too fast for mere humans to keep time with. So why not use computers? Well, it's tricky to syc up a preprogrammed computer with a human orchestra and conductor; an unexpected pause and the whole thing would come apart. The solution? Most of the fireworks are still set off by hand but where there are fast sections there will be a computer-controlled subsection.

Fireworks prep
Preset fireworks, one array of many across the Castle

I was suprised to hear that the fireworks themselves, as well as the trigger mechanisms, are imported from all over the world; although apparently the famous waterfall - pretty much the biggest display of its sort - is British made. The devices are certainly varied in appearance, what I could see of them. Many were covered in plastic, presumably to protect them from the rain, making it look like an exiting trip to IKEA for wrapping paper.

Fireworks prep

The Castle was swarming with efficient-looking people tending to their charges, wiring things together, poring over plans and never far away from a fire extinguisher!

Fireworks prep

Sadly there had been some sort of miscommunication which meant that we had to get out by 6pm, when the Castle closes, and the tour was truncated. We were given a very brief look at the breakdown of this year's display on our way...

Fireworks prep

... passing some very serious-looking first aid kit...

Fireworks prep

... pausing to admire the artistry of the setup, which takes a week of intensive labour for such a brief climax...

Fireworks prep

... chuckling at the covers for the cannons, which I suspect could take a certain amount of explosive without damage...

Fireworks prep

... and then it was over, and we just had to get through Arcade Fire's soundcheck without harm.

Arcade Fire

Many thanks to the people at the Edinburgh International Festival for organising the tour which was fascinating if brief. Maybe next year I'll manage to get a better, longer look...

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Paper Sculpture in Central Library

Another has appeared in the Central Lending Library on George IV Bridge.

Paper sculpture: Central Library

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.

Paper sculpture: Central Library

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!

Paper sculture: Central Library

Paper sculture: Central Library

In the news:

Scotsman article, 30 August 2011

Library blog post, 31 August 2011

A plastic cover has been placed on it and for the time being at least it is on display where it was left.

Paper sculture: Central Library

And here's some coverage from STV.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Paper Sculptures at the Book Festival

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.

Mysterious paper sculptures at the Book Festival

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".

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2011

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2011

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2011

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2011

The other, addressed to @edincityoflit (UNESCO Edinburgh City of Literature), was secreted about their stand in the entrance tent.

Mysterious paper sculptures at the Book Festival

The tag reads:

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.

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2011

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.

@EdinCityofLit paper sculpture, modelled by @beathhigh

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...

     Guardian article, 24th august 2011

     Edinburgh International Book Festival blog post, 24th August 2011

     Anna Not Karenina's blog post


Once the latest additions to the family have found offical homes I will update with further images and information...

Thursday, 4 August 2011