A Mystery! A Mystery Made of Books!

It’s been quiet over here in the Land of Deadline Hell — quiet online at least — but I’m popping my head out because this story is too delightful to resist. Two delicate paper sculptures made from old books have been discovered at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and no one seems to have any idea of where they came from or who the artist might be.

Paper sculpture found at Edinburgh Book Festival 2011

But the story doesn’t end there — or rather it doesn’t begin there. These two paper sculptures are only the most recent gifts left anonymously to Edinburgh-based arts groups throughout the year. The Scottish Poetry Library, the National Library of Scotland, the independent Filmhouse cinema, and the Scottish Storytelling Centre have all found themselves surprised and delighted recipients of these beautiful artworks. Wander over here for full details and photos.

Book scupture found at National Library of ScotlandMy favourite is possibly the gramophone and a coffin ensemble (from the National Library) which was sculpted from a copy of Exit Music by Ian Rankin. The attached handwritten note  reads, “For @natlibscot – A gift in support of libraries, books, words, ideas….. (& against their exit)”.

It’s a small but delicious mystery. Of course, part of me is dying to know the full story — who the artist is, why they are making and leaving these sculptures, what they plan to do in the future — but most of me will be quite content to have those questions remained unanswered, and somewhat saddened should all be revealed. For all the wonders of our click-to-know-more, information-saturated age, there is a dearth of mystery, a scarcity of cracks and unexplored crevices in which the seeds of imagination may take root and flourish and give off seeds of their own. We need the what ifs and the why on earths and the who can it bes. We need them like we need oxygen.

So thank you, unknown sculptor of books. Thank you for sending my mind down a series of whimsical paths this morning when I read about your exploits. Thank you for the thousand and one stories my imagination spun after witnessing the fruits of yours. May your penknife never dull; may your creativity bloom ever bright.