The Bookish Banksy’s artwork goes to auction

A collection of rare book sculptures, especially created for Scottish Book Trust by an anonymous artist dubbed the Bookish Banksy, are to be auctioned online from tomorrow, Tuesday, 25 January, until Tuesday, 1 February.

Book lovers will be invited to place their bids with fine art auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull, which is selling the five paper creations on behalf of Scottish Book Trust.

The sculptures were originally commissioned in 2012 by the charity to mark the first ever Book Week Scotland.

The mysterious artist, who is known to be a woman, first came to the public’s attention when she secretly deposited her book sculptures around cultural venues in Edinburgh throughout 2011.

During Book Week Scotland in 2012, the commissioned sculptures – each of which represents a Scottish literary classic – were discovered in a different location around the country by members of the public.

The classics turned into sculptures are; Tam O’Shanter by Robert Burns; Whisky Galore, by Compton Mackenzie; Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie; Lanark, by Alasdair Gray; and Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Scottish Book Trust, which promotes the enjoyment of reading and the importance of literacy, has now decided to sell the intricate three dimensional paper pieces to fund its ambition to make books available to all.

The elusive artist has sanctioned the sale of the sculptures. With a starting bid of £800 and guide price of £1,000-1500, they will be available to view by appointment at Lyon & Turnbull’s Edinburgh sale room in Broughton Place, Edinburgh in the lead-up to the auction.

The Peter Pan book sculpture (Photo:Alex Robson for Lyon & Turnbull)

The book sculpture artist said: ‘I always felt that the sculptures were a poor attempt to communicate the transformative magic that happens when a book is read.

‘I couldn’t be more delighted that by auctioning them off, they might be turned into real books.’

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, commented: ‘Many children are growing up without access to books or owning their own books at home, and since the pandemic the situation has worsened. Without books, children are missing out and we know the impact of this lasts a lifetime.

‘The works featured in these incredible creations all speak of magic, adventure, daring and Scotland’s vital place in the history of world literature.

‘The auction is part of a major and long term fundraising campaign launched late last year. Over Christmas, this focused on giving books to families in need through food banks, local authorities and other charities.’

Cathy Marsden, a specialist in rare books at Lyon & Turnbull, who has organised the sale, said: ‘Books are essential for the development of imagination, self-awareness and giving a sense of escapism, all of which promote good mental health and well-being.

‘We hope that each sculpture offered for sale can help Scottish Book Trust provide the gifts of reading and literature which can change lives.’