Gifted: the Edinburgh Book Sculptures


In 2011 ten exquisite sculptures made from books mysteriously appeared at libraries and cultural institutions across Edinburgh. The first and last were found here at the Scottish Poetry Library, and also a final gift at the end of 2012. You can visit these three - the Poetree, Cap and Gloves, and A Child's Garden - at any time during the SPL's opening hours.

The sculptures came with a message: ‘in support of books, libraries, words, ideas’. To this day, no one knows how they arrived, and the identity of the sculptor remains anonymous, but their story has travelled all over the world.

You can read more about each of the sculptures in the booklet below, or download a WALKING TOUR MAP (LARGE PRINT VERSION) which will allow you to locate the works across the city.

2012 saw all the book sculptures brought together for a tour of Scotland. The Gifted exhibition was a tribute to the presence and vitality of libraries and arts institutions in Edinburgh and across Scotland, and to the generosity of the anonymous artist’s gesture. It’s also a gift to the communities which support these places. The artist’s note ‘… a library is so much more than a building full of books… a book is so much more than pages full of words.…in support of libraries, books, words, ideas…’ forms a refrain running through the all of the works, both celebration and call to action.

 The film below provides a small taste of the tour...

Exhibition film clips online

We have created a series of short film clips featuring the sculptures. These can be accessed by following the links below: 

Poetree, Scottish Poetry Library
Coffin and gramophone, National Library of Scotland
Cinema, Filmhouse
Dragon's nest, Scottish Storytelling Centre
Tea, cake and a book, Edinburgh International Book Festival
Lost in a good book..., Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust
Magnifying glass, Edinburgh Central Library
Cap and gloves, Scottish Poetry Library
Dinosaur, National Museum of Scotland
Street scene, Edinburgh Writers' Museum
A child's garden, Scottish Poetry Library

If you would like to read more about the story of the sculptures' appearance in Edinburgh in 2011, please visit the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust's website.

All photos on this page: Chris Scott 


Gifted tour logo

In 2012 the Edinburgh book sculptures toured Scotland. They visited Aberdeen Central Library, Dundee Central Library, Wigtown Book Festival, the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, and Dunfermline Carnegie Library, before returning to the Scottish Poetry Library for an exhibtion opening on the eve of Book Week Scotland.

Under the banner 'in support of books, libraries, words and ideas', the touring exhibition brought together all ten book sculptures, anonymously gifted throughout 2011 to the Scottish Poetry Library National Library Scotland, National Museums Scotland, Filmhouse, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Central Library, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Edinburgh Writers’ Museum.

Nearly 50,000 people visited the exhibition as it toured, while numerous others followed the story online. A short film about the tour can be found here.

At the close of the tour each of the works was returned to its home institution in Edinburgh (with the excepion of the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust sculptures, which can be found a the Edinburgh Central Library), where they may be visited during opening hours following our map guide. Three works remain at the Scottish Poetry Library, where you are welcome to come and see them at any time.

Toured by the Scottish Poetry Library in partnership with Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust. Supported by Creative Scotland.

You can read an account of the tour on SPL's blog
Visit the Gifted Tour event page on Facebook
Follow the tour on Twitter: #giftEDtour