As the Edinburgh International Book Festival approaches, “Edinburgh’s mystery book sculptor strikes again!”—this time with a flight-themed sculpture (pictured below) that picks up on the hatching birds motif of her (her gender being one of the few known facts about the secretive craftswoman) last creation.

Delivered by post in a format that recalls a Joseph Cornell art box, the sculpture and attached assemblage pieces arrived at the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust offices with a label reading:

“Edin City of Lit. Preparing To Fly. In support of Libraries, Books, Words & Ideas.”

mystery book sculptor

The sculpture itself is a pair of Icarus-style paper wings cut from a book, with accompanying helmet and goggles “to provide some protection throughout journey,” as well as some inspirational in-flight reading in the form of a miniature copy of Daphne du Maurier’s “The Birds and Other Stories.”

These were housed in a book-shaped case painted and stickered to resemble an old-style traveling trunk, as seen here:

mystery book sculptor

The package came with a note that quotes the UNESCO Statement for the United Nations Literacy Decade, 2003–2012:

“Literacy is about more than reading and writing — it is about how we communicate in society. It is about social practices and relationships, about knowledge, language and culture. Literacy … finds its place in our lives alongside other ways of communicating.

“Indeed, literacy itself takes many forms: on paper, on the computer screen, on TV, on posters and signs. Those who use literacy take it for granted — but those who cannot use it are excluded from much communication in today’s world. Indeed, it is the excluded who can best appreciate the notion of ‘literacy as freedom.”

Unfortunately, that points up a sobering coda to the whole delightful story. As noted earlier on TeleRead, the recent report “The Reading Gap” from UK educational charity the Sutton Trust found that Scotland has the widest gap in reading attainment between rich and poor students in the developed world.

For a country like Scotland that has always prided itself on learning and intellectual achievement, that is a scandal. The literacy focus has flown in not a moment too soon.


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