Artworks For Libraries

During Book Week Scotland 2014 we paired up with creative studio Pidgin Perfect again to transform some Scottish libraries.

We have commissioned five artists to create new and dynamic artworks for five different libraries across Scotland. The artworks take inspiration from a poem, ‘Dear Library’ by Jackie Kay, specially commissioned by Scottish Book Trust as part of the Artworks For Libraries project. To find out more about each of the projects, and to see interviews about the impact that Artworks for Libraries has had, please watch the videos below.


Stockbridge Library, Edinburgh

'Under the shy moon' by Rachel Barron

Working directly with the architectural features of the library, the installation has been made in response to Jackie Kay’s poem, ‘Dear Library’, which expresses the excitement and aspirations of an expectant mum as part of a wider narrative about the life cycle of a library user. Inspired by astronomy and lunar cycles, the artwork represents the phases of our journey through life using a gradient of colours. I have created a unique typeface for the artwork, using a series of geometric shapes that illustrate excerpts from the poem. ‘Growing like a story’ dances across the windows of the main facade of Stockbridge Library, inviting the question: What will your story be?


Musselburgh Library

'Site of Action' by Emma Ewan

'Site of Action' has a lectern at its centre. A lectern is a device for reading; symbolising discovery and learning, the sharing of knowledge. It is an object, platform or stage that can be activated by anyone - a monument to actions past with the potential for action in the future. It is inspired by the everyday sculptural objects that are found at the centre of formal gardensor public spaces – a sundial, a fountain or a classical sculpture. The aspiration for the artwork is for it to become a gravitational point; a place for thinking, meeting, learning and communicating. A large format plaque fixed directly to the facade of the library will provide a ‘mind-map’ of the ideas behind the work and the relevance of the poem by Jackie Kay, featuring the lines, ‘anythin an’ aw’thin I wants tae ken aboot / the moon, stars, sea, the galaxy, the wide world’.


Saltcoats Library

'To Anchor: Imperative' by Charlotte Duffy

For the artwork at Saltcoats Library I intended to create a physical character that represented and embodied the library. The artwork is inspired by the final verse of Jackie Kay’s poem 'Dear Library’, specially commissioned for Book Week Scotland 2014, and with this I was naturally led to an elderly man. I then incorporated the sea as an extension of that character to allude to the many changing journeys one can be taken on through the library as a resource. On meeting with four distinct community based organisations and groups who use the facility and having conversed with the staff and the regular library goers I came to realise that one character alone could not represent Saltcoats Library fully. Saltcoats library is an anchor for the community and is a sum of the many characters who engage with it and it is my hope that people will take this message from the artwork and continue to support and enjoy the library.


Lennoxtown Library

'We Make New' by Bobby Sayers

We Make New' wishes to take the viewer on a journey. To see the library in a new way, to reimagine. To highlight the ordinary and to show value in the undervalued. It consists of 16 large square digital prints mounted on aluminum frames. The artwork reads from left to right like a book, images and words take equal weight. Colour around the edges of the frames function to highlight shapes and forms within the images. The universal language used in the poems follows a parallel to the Jackie Kay poem, ‘Dear Library'; they exist apart but when brought together they strengthen each one another. The artwork seeks to open conversations around imagination and perspective and to allow others to find their own objects of interest and beauty in their surroundings. In ‘We Make New’ I have selected to emphasise the difference between my text and that of Jackie Kay's and also highlight the connection. To do this, the poem will is 'cut out' of my artwork so that as you 'look through the artwork' you see Jackie's poem, revealing the shiny aluminium behind. The words become almost magical and alluring. The second section of the poem is displayed in full next to the artwork on a single aluminium sheet, connecting the words directly through the material choice.


Shetland Library

'The High Standards of Shetland Library' by Rosemary Cunningham

The four flags and their crafted wooden flagpole are an expression of Shetland Library’s unique place in the community, as well as touching on Shetland’s craft and seafaring culture. Using lines from Jackie Kay’s ‘Dear Library’ poem, specially commissioned for Book Week Scotland 2014, the artwork both literally and figuratively signposts the library as a centre for community events, reading and fun. The language of pictures conveys the many free services the library provides; all the flags reference reading and people using books - and through the movement of the wind, they bring the inanimate to life, just as reading gives a book its energy.


Artworks for Libraries Interviews


Scottish Book Trust worked with Pidgin Perfect, an award-winning, multi-disciplinary creative studio to deliver this programme of artworks.

Films created by Mr Webster Film.