The end of all things

So, the end of all things indeed. After three years the time has come to close down The Library of Lost Books. What a project it has been!

Image copyright Kayleigh Bestwick for The Library of Lost Books.

The project was the brainchild of Susan Kruse, an artist based in Birmingham who found a cache of discarded library books in the local library and couldn't bear to see them thrown away. She gathered together a group of artists who took those old, damaged and unwanted books and gave them a new lease of life, turning them into the most wonderful works of art.

Clare Whistler's book. Image by David Knight

The project started with no funding but with the help of her family and some very generous supporters via a crowd-funding programme, Susan managed to raise some cash. As word of the project spread other supporters offered help, including Wolverhampton University and Sheaffer.

Determined to show the books at Birmingham Library as part of it's opening festivities, Susan embarked on a long and sometimes difficult battle to bring an exhibition of the books to Birmingham. With some support from Birmingham Library staff and after a lot of negotiations the project was finally exhibited in Birmingham in 2013. Over 13,000 visitors saw the exhibition during it's three week run in the new Birmingham Library.

Exhibition in the Pavillion at Birmingham Library. Image copyright Susan Kruse

As well as exhibiting the books in Birmingham, smaller exhibitions of selected books have been shown in Wolverhampton, Oxford and Carmarthen.

Jane Hyslop's book. Image by David Knight

From the 8th of September the books will be exhibited at Bootham School in York where they will form part of a book arts project organised by artist in residence, Jade Blood. As well as inspiring the children to make their own work the books will be on display for the public for one night on the 11th of September in Bootham School's new Arts Complex. The artists being exhibited at York are: Melanie Alexandrou, Kyra Clegg, IanPyperRuth Shaw Williams, StephenLivingstone, Catherine Scriven, Clare Boothby, Helen Ward, Helen Harrop, Matthew Herring, Oliver Flude, Christine Finn, and Suzi Tibbetts.

Clare Boothby's book. Image by David Knight

Kyra Clegg's book. Image by David Knight

Oliver Flude's book. Image by David Knight

Catherine Scriven's book. Image by David Knight

Ruth Shaw-William's work. Image by David Knight

Once the exhibition leaves York the project will begin to be closed down. Susan asked the artists involved in the project what they wanted to happen to the books and the majority have asked that a new permanent home might be found for the collection, which is the task we are undertaking right now. 55 altered books anyone?

image copyright Kayleigh Bestwick


dinahmow said…
I've loved following this story.Well done, everyone!
Klaus said…
Since I make artist books I look at this blog. A great project, wonderful, great books.Thanks to Susan. Many suggestions and allways my wish to find such an old book in my mailbox and make a book for the library. Too bad, too late. Best wishes. Klaus von Mirbach.

PS What happens now with all the discarded books?

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