What a wonderful idea! London streets are being peppered with books this summer – or rather, benches designed in homage of some of the world’s best-loved literature.
From Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels to Lewis Carol’s The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, the National Literacy Trust’s Books About Town campaign celebrates reading in the most vivid of ways – with seats resembling open books.
Many, such as the Dr Seuss bench, with the author’s deliciously weird characters recreated by Jane Headford, are instantly recognisable. Others, including the ‘Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary’ bench inspired by J.M. Barrie’s novel The Little White Bird, are likely to have people guessing, but still stand out as glorious works of art that will have visitors to London’s streets pondering literature in new ways.
There are 50 unique BookBench sculptures in all, created in collaboration in with Wild in Art, and devised mainly by local artists.
“Our events are designed to bring the enjoyment of public art to thousands of people while offering new ways to explore a host city or town,” says Sally-Ann Wilkinson, Director of Wild in Art. “We are delighted to be working with the National Literacy Trust on this project bringing many of our favourite books to life through the visual arts.”
I’d love to see the venture spread across the UK, awarding every city, town and village with a bench revealing a local literary connection.
Best of all, the benches are actually there to be sat on, so you can take a load off, pull a favourite book from your bag and enjoy a few moments’ escapism. And before you walk a way, take a look at the back of your bench, which in most cases will be as gorgeous as the front.
To find the full list of books featured, pay a visit to www.booksabouttown.org.uk where you’ll be able to download maps of the four BookBench trails.
The BookBenches will remain scattered across London until 15 September, before being auctioned off at the Southbank Centre on 7 October 2014, so you’ll have the chance to bid on your favourites. All funds raised will go towards enabling the National Literacy Trust to tackle illiteracy in deprived communities across the UK.
Happily, new research from the charity reveals that 53.3% of 8 to 16 year olds now say they enjoy reading, compared to 51.4% in 2005. So it’s definitely going in the right direction. Here’s hoping a summer of spotting beautiful book-inspired benches will boost this literary love even higher!