‘Parklets’ feature unique seats of learning in Capital

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A GROUP of hand-carved “book benches” celebrating some of Scotland’s most famous texts have been installed in the Capital.

Respected writers including Ken MacLeod, author of sci-fi whodunnit The Night Sessions, and former Edinburgh Makar Ron Butlin were among the first to try out the benches after they were put up in George Street’s new urban garden “parklets”.

The four hand-carved sculptures have been commissioned and installed by the council to commemorate the tenth anniversary year of Edinburgh’s designation as a Unesco City of Literature.

Crafted by Peter Graham of Bespoke Design with the support of DWA Landscaping, they are intended to celebrate the Capital’s reputation as a home of world-class literature.

A list of the city’s top 40 titles, as compiled by the Edinburgh Unesco City of 
Literature Trust, can be found carved into the sculptures.

Figures from the arts scene said they hoped the benches would inspire residents to read the texts displayed.

Ali Bowden, Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature trust director, said: “Contributing just 40 writers from a [city] that has hundreds of brilliant poets, storytellers and writers is an impossible task.

“We called on the help of book fans online and, with a lot of careful thinking, we put together 40 of the books that make up the benches.

“Some of these books have changed the world and all of them are fantastic reads. People shouldn’t just sit on them, but go visit their local library or bookshop and get a copy.”

The benches will remain in the parklets until later this year before touring other city locations.

Widely billed as the biggest trend in American town planning, the aim of a parklet is to create a vibrant community space that celebrates the city it is based in.

Edinburgh’s are the UK’s first and are supplied in partnership with Dobbies and Essential Edinburgh.

City leaders said the benches would cement Edinburgh’s reputation as an international literary hub.

Councillor Richard Lewis, culture leader, said: “These additions to the city’s streets to celebrate ten years of this fantastic designation can only go to reinforce that status further.

“You could get lost tracing through the rows of books featured in these sculptures. You’re sure to find a title that suits your tastes.”

Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport leader, addded: “We have pedestrianised parts of George Street to test different uses of the space to encourage more people to visit. This has been very successful with footfall increasing in every block.

“It was suggested by interested groups, including members of the public and local businesses, that more seating would we welcomed for those just wanting to take in the stunning Georgian architecture and relax with some essential Edinburgh reading on George Street.”