GiftED – paper sculptures on the road

If you troll about the literary world, you may have heard of Edinburgh’s mysterious sculptures, their delicate carvings found anonymously gifted to libraries and museums. (I briefly mused on the escapades at the time)

The beauties were found stashed around cultural venues last year, leaving the city and the literatti abuzz with speculation.

Who could have made them? How were they deposited so anonymously? What is behind this?

But it’s not just an Edinburgh story, now.

The images went viral and then the story started popping up in international media outlets across oceans and months. I started getting facebook messages and emails from kids I went to high school with and the far-flung acquaintances of my siblings. They’d heard it on NPR. They’d seen it in the news. Did you see the Huffington Post? Don’t I live in Edinburgh? Aren’t I bookish? Surely I knew the secret?

Despite the modern propensity to fame and glory, the artist and Edinburgh have firmly kept the lid on it – making the anonymity and adventure all the sweeter with its old fashioned charm and small town graces. The artist chooses to still remain anonymous, and constantly reiterates (via anonymous email statements and the tiny notes which attend the sculptures) that the works were given freely, by someone who had something to say.

But now the story has a new chapter.

There were 10 sculpture gifted in Edinburgh in 2011.

In 2012, they have toured venues and libraries across Scotland, sharing the story with the nation.

And now, for Book Week Scotland, the artist has been commissioned (via anonymous email) to create five new ones inspired by great Scottish books.

Each morning this week, the week of the very first Book Week Scotland, sees the release of a clue, leading to a significant writer or work. Enter your answer on their website and it reveals the location of the new sculpture — some spot across Scotland relevant to the story or author. Be the first person there and not only do you “discover” the next chapter in the saga, but you win a mini-sculpture of your very own.

I love the way this story unfolds. It’s charm and simplicity. It’s unabashed passion and private celebrations. It’s collective joy and national treasures.

It is telling, I think, of Edinburgh and Scotland. Of books and readers and artists. It’s a fairy tale that gets better with each iteration. And from one person a with glue and scissors has come a national landmark and an international network of lovers, thinkers and plebs of all stripes.

I gotta admit, Edinburgh, you really do take the cake sometimes.

If you’re in Scotland, the original 10 are currently beautifully exhibited in the Scottish Poetry Library. Go see them.

If you’re further afield, you can watch the videos about the sculptures and explore their recent national tour on the GiftED site.

And wherever you are, witness the next chapter unfold as the final three statues are revealed over at Book Week Scotland’s facebook page



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