Mar 022012
 
Gramophone and coffin made of paper

I have been enchanted following the mystery of the glorious paper scupltures that magically appear around Edinburgh centers of books and stories.  Have you seen one?  First of all, no one knows who makes them, and while the artist deserves a great deal of credit, I have to hope the mystery isn’t solved for years and years.  Secondly, they’re technically brilliant, beautifully crafted, and quite small – most seem to be able to balance on one palm or maybe two.  Third, they’re clever – literary references abound.  Recipients (being eopteniaphiles** themselves) have assembled clues in the sculptures to find direct   The delicate sculptures usually refer to a particular author, and there are specific details built into them that show  the artist has a  clear vision, fortified by the message on each gift tag.

If you’ve seen any of these, I’d love to hear from you about it!  What was it like? Where was it?

(**Eopteniaphile is a word I just made up, meaning people who really like stories)

paper scupture shoing dragon emerging from egg
“A gift in support of libraries, books, words, ideas…”

Each of these just appear – sometimes staff don’t know how long they’ve been there by the time they are discovered.  For example, this one from the Scottish Storytelling Center was apparently very well hidden.  The tag reads, “For @scotstorycenter – 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…..”

A lot of the sculptures have references to Ian Rankin’s work; one even has a figure with his face sitting back with a group of “punters” watching TV – a TV that is erupting with horsemen leaping out of the screen toward the audience!
The first sculpture, a Poetree, appeared at the Scottish Poetry Library a year ago, in March 2011.  The next was discovered at the National Library of Scotland.  Then the Filmhouse, and the Scottish Storytelling Centre.  Then two at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.  Each one is distinct, each one a different message, all made from paper, often with snippets and scraps of words built in to reinforce the message.
This one is one of my favorites.  It was left in the Bookshop during the Edinburgh Book Festival .  The tag 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”, which is the Twitter feed for SPL (they’ll tweet you poetry!  So romantic.). The cup on

Nothing beats a nice cup of tea…and a BOOK…paper sculpture of a teacup on a thin spire, with a cupcake on a plate next to it, all balanced on a book

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”.  Amen to that.

Closeup of paper teacup with words glued on top of the "tea"     There’s been lots of press** about these as the mystery continues.   This Central Station has a good web article with great pictures of more of these gems.  The Daily Art Fixx has some nice coverage; even BoingBoing has been intrigued.

**Just Google “Edinburgh paper sculptures” to find dozens of articles on them.

closeup of paper cupcake on plate in scuplture

  2 Responses to “Mystery Afoot: Edinburgh paper sculptures”

  1. […] elspethpayne.comThe fourth sculpture was found on a windowsill at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. It was hidden in a part of the building that staff rarely visited, so it could have been there for some time. Carved from a copy of Rankin’s crime novel Knots and Crosses, the label read: “For @scotstorycentre – 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.” […]

  2. […] elspethpayne.comThe fourth sculpture was found on a windowsill at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. It was hidden in a part of the building that staff rarely visited, so it could have been there for some time. Carved from a copy of Rankin’s crime novel Knots and Crosses, the label read: “For @scotstorycentre – 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.” […]

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