Mystery book sculptor gives Edinburgh new work of art

July 2013 sculpture The latest intricate book sculpture arrived in Edinburgh at the offices of the Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature Trust

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The anonymous artist responsible for a remarkable series of complex book sculptures has struck again in Edinburgh.

The latest work of art was sent through the post to the Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature Trust (EUCL).

Staff knew the package was from the mystery sculptor because of the distinctive handwriting on the box.

On the outside of the parcel was the message: "In support of libraries, books, words & ideas."

Inside the simple brown paper parcel was a message in praise of libraries along with an intricate and delicately made book - a World Book - in the shape of an old-fashioned travelling trunk, complete with hinged lid and travel stickers.

Feather wings

It opened to reveal a set of delicate, paper feather wings, a safety helmet and goggles "to provide some protection throughout journey".

Start Quote

We feel so proud and humbled that someone has taken the time to create such a beautiful thing for us”

End Quote Ali Bowden Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature TrustDirector,

Along with these was a handbook - a tiny copy of Daphne du Maurier's The Birds and Other Stories - and route map in the shape of an embroidered map with the threads radiating out from Edinburgh.

Coded written notes also carried the messages "Free to Fly" and "looking to the skies".

The parcel was discovered by Ali Bowden, the director of Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature Trust, who said: "I really couldn't believe that something as delicate and irreplaceable as a book sculpture would appear so quietly in the post.

"It was incredibly exciting. We huddled round, opened it and inside found a lovely travel chest with a glorious paper sculpture inside. We couldn't believe our eyes!"

She added: "We launched our Edinburgh Bookshops app and virtual trail a few days ago, telling the world about how great Edinburgh's bookshops are as 'special places', and now we've received this wonderful gift."

An information sheet in the chest quoted the Unesco Statement for the United Nation Literacy Decade, the notion of "Literacy as Freedom".

July 2013 opened The sculpture was contained inside a trunk within the package

This was accompanied with a plea to "keep shouting out about how libraries and other special places enrich our lives" by following @_freetofly_ on Twitter to "have your say".

Ms Bowden added: "This is our second book sculpture. And we feel so proud and humbled that someone has taken the time to create such a beautiful thing for us.

"We're intrigued by the message of 'Free to Fly' and will be 'looking to the skies' as instructed to see how the adventure unfolds."

The identity of the artist remains a secret but the person responsible did claim in one note to be a woman, who believed free access to libraries, art galleries and museums makes life much richer.

The EUCL sculpture is the last in three sculptures - Preparing to Fly 3/3 - the first of which appeared in May and June. A birdhouse with a nest containing three eggs was gifted to the Scottish Poetry Library and the second, a nest with three baby birds in it, appeared in Leith Library.

World interest

The story of the sculptures has gone around the world and gripped the literary community in Edinburgh, the world's first Unesco City of Literature.

Ten original sculptures appeared in venues connected to literacy around the city over the course of 2011, with crime author Ian Rankin receiving his own personal sculpture.

Fifty paper flowers were then left around the Edinburgh International Book Festival and five sculptures were commissioned anonymously for the inaugural Book Week Scotland, both in 2012, and released with cryptic literary online clues guiding people to the location of the sculptures.

A final sculpture was sent to the Scottish Poetry Library to be opened on the last day of the Gifted exhibition held at the library and showcasing all the sculptures to date.

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