In the Signet Library – an afternoon in Wig:Land

A few weeks ago I was invited by Adrian Turpin, director of the Wigtown Book Festival, to do a one day artist residency at Scot:Lands – an ambitious celebration of Scotland’s culture, scattered across nine mystery locations in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

There was going to be a pop up version of the Wigtown Book Festival, called ‘Wig:Land’, located in the Signet Library, and the idea was that I would run a project which was based on the building and would also allow people to watch me making work. In 2013 and 2014 I had already been commissioned by the Festival to make Windows of Wigtown and Wigtown Peeps Out and it was great to see these being brought to new life at Wig:Land as well.

After some initial thought I asked the lovely Vivian French and Anders Frang for their support and I’m glad they were keen as it turned out to be lots of fun and a very fruitful collaboration:

Led by Vivian, visitors were asked to take inspiration from the building, and write up to twenty wonderful words which I then illustrated right in front of their very eyes; Anders applied the typography and by the end of the day we had created the first illustrated book of 2017, using their words! 

The text was written in the style of story consequences; people could read the last line of the previous writer, but had no idea what had gone before. The library itself was the inspiration … and, as can be seen, offered plenty of ideas.

In the days leading up to the event I paid the Signet library a couple of visits; drank tea and ate apple and cinnamon scones, drew and took photographs of various architectural elements and other details. In my studio these were then transformed into bits of illustration which were to be combined with further work made on the spot, spontaneously and in response to the stories that emerged on the day of the event.

Here are images of the Signet Library and some of my previous work, as well as our temporary beautiful workshop and the six spreads and one book cover we managed to create within the 4 hours of Wig:Land.

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1516

8

IN THE SIGNET LIBRARY…

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Huge thanks to everyone who contributed … you know who you are, and you were wonderful.  And extra thanks to the younger writers, especially Tomas, Henry, Ira, and the girls from South Morningside Primary School.

You were ALL amazing, and if we didn’t get round to illustrating your words, we’re so sorry. Time ran out on us …

Astrid, Anders and Vivian

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The Wig-lands story, created at the Signet Library, January 1st 2017 (full text)

I saw so many BOOKS

standing straight

soldier rows protected

by their covers.

LET THE BOOKS GO FREE

Late at night

with only the moon

as a witness

I snuck into the library

and liberated

FIVE BOOKS

from their prison

I read the books

floating in the air.

We feel the warm golden GLOW

of the NEW YEAR

ON THE FIRST

I SAW AN ELEPHANT

READING A BOOK

ABOUT

ELEPHANTS

while a troll

with blue hair

came tiptoeing quietly

to steal a poem…

… from a room with

a THREE DIMENSIONAL

CARPET where a woman,

hair standing on end,

searches for words.

What happens when you find them?

Creativity … where is it kept?

Is it in THE SHOE BOX

under GRANDFATHER, or in

THE COAL SCUTTLE where …

… a

tiny

tiny

monster

is hunting

for a

big box of

TREASURES.

There is neither

RHYME nor REASON.

A BOOK ELF has

put the books back

WONKY and

upside down!

I heard

BOOK MONSTERS

with BOOK CLAWS

scrabbling in the shelves

Over shadowed by illuminated rails

CURIOUS MINDED travellers stand,

enraptured by the volumes …

BUT

HOW to write a book?

SCRATCH my HEAD

A cup of COFFEE would be best

to begin

To begin the story …

PANDA came looking for a BOOK of COLOURS

“I only know about BLACK and WHITE” …

We knew he’d been there. He left CRUMBS!

And a fox came

CREEPING

out

at night.

He was CAUGHT …

but

he BIT them

and ESCAPED

with the keys!

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