Mystery still a closed book as new sculptures appear

Julie Johnstone with a tree that was found at the Scottish Poetry Library
Julie Johnstone with a tree that was found at the Scottish Poetry Library
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As far as stories go, this one is certainly a whodunnit.

There has been another twist in the mystery of who has been leaving strange sculptures at locations across the city – after another two were anonymously left at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The new sculptures left at the Book Festival

The new sculptures left at the Book Festival

Puzzled staff were left scratching their heads as to how the objects had been left without anyone noticing.

The first sculpture is of a tray with a cup of tea and a cupcake and is inscribed: “This cup is awarded to @edbookfest” and also contains a tea bag full of letters, an unmarked book and a label which says – “This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas and festivals xx.”

The second sculpture was gifted to the City of Literature and is created from a copy of James Hogg’s Confessions Of A Justified Sinner and entitled “Lost (Albeit in a good book).” The accompanying label says “This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas” followed by a quotation from Robert Owen: “No infant has the power of deciding... by what circumstances (they) shall be surrounded.”

A spokesperson for the Book Festival said: “We are thrilled by the gift of this beautiful and mysterious work, and would like to say thank you to the anonymous sculptor and donor.”

The new sculptures left at the Book Festival

The new sculptures left at the Book Festival

Over the past year, sculptures have been deposited randomly across the city’s cultural hotspots.

As reported in the Evening News, an intricate model of a nesting dragon was found in the Scottish Storytelling Centre in July.

The dragon, carved from the pages of Ian Rankin’s novel Knots and Crosses, is the fourth sculpture to have been left anonymously in the Capital – all of which have some link to the Rebus author. Mr Rankin previously said he was mystified by their origin.

A tag found alongside the paper sculpture reads: “A gift in support of libraries, books, words and ideas...”, followed by the message: “Once upon a time there was a book, and in the book was a nest, and in the nest was an egg, and in the egg was a dragon, and in the dragon was a story.”

Staff at the Filmhouse Cinema, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Poetry Library have all stumbled upon mini-artworks fashioned from books.

Donald Smith, director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, said at the time: “It’s a teaser and is beautifully made out of really simple materials. It’s basically paper. It appeared about ten days ago. People were coming in and saying: ‘Have you seen the dragon?’ and that was the start of it. The first time we saw it we thought ‘Should we be moving that somewhere safer?’ because we have so many families that come in and it was so delicate. But we thought, ‘No, it’s been made to go there’. It fits perfectly, tucked away in a recess as if you are supposed to happen upon it.”

Mr Smith said that as well as the dragon being created from a Rankin novel, there were historical connections between the crime writer and the centre.

“Ian Rankin’s first job was collecting folk tales for an archiving project in London,” he said. “And he’s got a real interest in traditional stories and often drops by here.”

The centre director added staff were turning to Rankin’s Knots and Crosses to solve the mystery.

dawnmorrison@edinburghnews.com