First created as a response to the challenge from Halewood Arts to make the unwanted books from Halewood library interesting, appealing and engaging this was my first public art project on leaving university. I was delighted with the results on every level; the form and concepts worked while my first workshopping experience was incredibly positive. The Tower was supposed to be taken apart after 4 weeks but was eventually left standing for nearly 3 months due to popular demand. When it was dismantled all the books were successfully sold (a major target for the project).
Utilising the Books as physical objects, I created the structure by tying the books into bundles to be labelled and used as building blocks for a Tower. Halton Borough Council offered me the opportunity to build the BookTower at Runcorn Shopping Centre which fulfilled an ambition of mine to create a freestanding BookTower.
The simple form plays on the nature of Books on a number of levels: as a basis of knowledge with which to build our lives; as aesthetic objects in themselves; and as a learning landmark for young lives to navigate by.
The Tower itself presents an interesting paradox, simultaneously tempting the viewer to interrogate the often familiar titles – inviting interaction – while actively precluding this activity, beyond the hints on the tags the books remain a concealed and contained collection awaiting rediscovery. The tags also provided a voice and a locus of dialogue, with the Tower perhaps an embodiment of the community’s dedication to the library.
Adults engaged with developing the story telling and narrative nature of the Tower by adding tags relating to their experience of books and Runcorn library with a more critical focus. The aim was to consider the library as a historical locus of a collection and as a developing entity in its own right whose contents reflected the community's use and interests.
The overall feeling was one of reflection and restocking of the participants' notion of books while encouraging the basic maths and reading skills as well as introducing research, analysis and précis to the children.
See workshop images in my Community pages.