In my novel The Echoes of Love the hero, Paolo, explains: ‘I spend a lot of time reading about beautiful things and like to surround myself with them.’Were I describing myself, I would edit this to: ‘I spend a lot of time reading beautiful things and like to surround myself with them.’The ‘beautiful things’ in question are, of course, books. I love books – the look of them, the smell of them, the feel of them; they make a room; they bring meaning to a space. For me, a shelf of books in a room is all I need. But I find it fascinating that there are those who go a step further; who would say: ‘I spend a lot of time reading beautiful things and like to make them into art and surround myself with that art.’
Artist Mike Stilkey has recently hit the news for his innovative paintings laid down not on the traditional canvas but instead on piled-up books. Through reclaiming old, unloved books discarded by libraries, he makes them beautiful and admired once more.
It’s a growing trend. I love this work by Ekaterina Panikanovaby:
And the many carved book landscapes by Guy Laramée:
And I adore this sculpture built from plant and animal illustrations cut out of old textbooks by artist Andrea Mastrovito:
For me, a book on the shelf is art enough. But I love how artists are taking the medium further, and especially how their treatment of old books signifies that they are things of beauty to be treasured and retained.
And it’s not only art in galleries that’s gone bookish. This month, you may be wandering down a road in a city, foot weary, and decide to sit on a bench for a breather. But wait… is this a bench? It’s a little, well, book-like?
Welcome to London, home of ‘Books about Town’ – a public art project developed by the National Literacy Trust. Fifty books have been embodied in public benches by artists in brilliantly innovative ways.
Here’s a Bridget Jones-inspired bench:
And here’s a Peter Pan one:
To see all the benches, and get maps to help you find them in London, visit www.booksabouttown.org.uk.
The motto of the day, it seems, worldwide is a hearty: Vive le livre!