London's streets are currently home to fifty book bench art sculptures; these have been on display from the beginning of July and will be removed on the 15th of September. The works of art will be auctioned for charity after this. The book benches are created for the National Literacy Trust, which is a charity that helps people learn how to read. The books celebrate reading and authors or books are picked based on London's literary connections. The money raised will allow the National Literacy Trust to continue their work in helping people to read (and to learn how to read). According to the National Literacy Trust website, 16% (5.2 million) adults in Britain are illiterate.
Fever Pitch - Sophie Green
I have been exploring the book trails over the past several weeks and managed to track down the books, so this post is photograph-heavy as there were so many of these that I liked (or liked my photograph of). I cannot choose a favourite because they are all so unique, but I did enjoy the two below. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was particularly nice because one side of the bench was a winter scene with the two characters from the book and the lion on the back. The sides also held hidden treasures. I also liked the bright colours used in the Peter Pan bench. Both benches are on the Bloomsbury trail.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Quad Digital Mandii Pope
Peter Pan - Sian Storey
My favourite trails were the Bloomsbury and the Riverside trails as there are so many great designs, and the settings were also nice for some of them. Greenwich was a little problematic for me to get to and required making several changes because it is difficult for me to get to, unless I want the O2 at North Greenwich, but the trail was located around the Observatory and the Cutty Sark.
Dr. Seuss - Theodore Suess Giesel (original) created by Jane Headford
I only had one slight issue with the book benches, and that was down to the artwork actually becoming a bench that could be sat on. Seeing the books in the City during my lunch break (even when I took a late lunch to avoid having to ask people to move so that I could snap a photograph) was particularly difficult. A lack of places to sit in the City and glorius summer weather at the start of the book bench art trail meant that every book bench in the City was occupied by at least one person, even outside the normal "lunch" hours. Except for one difficult person in Postman's Park, everyone asked did move, though a handful of those were reluctant to move when nicely asked and didn't understand the fuss. Additionally, I noticed that a couple of the benches had become worn where they had been sat on, and one looked particularly bad.
The book benches in the tourist areas became popular, especially when the tourists noticed that I was taking a photograph of the bench. One large group of tourists walked by the bench outside the Globe previously. After they saw me photographing it, they became excited and crowded around to get a group photograph. This happened a few times when others took interest after seeing someone else take interest. Seeing the reactions of others is always interesting.
We're Going on a Bear Hunt - Helen Oxenbury (design) created by Gerard Strong
As with other art sculpture charity trails, I did see others specifically mapping out all of the books. I did not see as many families or people in general taking part. Perhaps they did, but I did not notice because the four trails were quite short and I completed most of them during the week.
The Railway Children - One Red Shoe
My favourite classic writer and favourite classic book is The Time Machine, so I had to include that book bench below.
The Time Machine - Di Ralston
Many of the book benches had an event hosted around them. For example, one event was for a world record attempt for the largest number of people dressed as Sherlock Holmes. Others included book giveaways or a photo booth opportunity. I was going to try to make the James Bond book giveaway, but unfortunately something came up at work and I could not attend it to get a free James Bond book.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole - Andrea Joseph
Without further discussion, I have included the remainder of the photographs below because there were quite a few that I liked or liked my photograph of. These also give a good view on the selection of different books and artwork.
Shakespeare - Lucy Dalzell
Noughts and Crosses - Oliver Dean
The Origin of the Species - Jane Callan
Elmer the Elephant - David McKee (original), recreated by Giles Boardman
Peter Pan - Laura Elizabeth Bolton
Captain Scott - Charles Bezzina
Gruffalo and Scarecrows - Alex Scheffler
How to Train Your Dragon - Cressida Cowell (original) - by Gerard Strong
Samuel Pepys' Diary - Michele Petit-Jean
1984 - Thomas Dowdeswell
To discover the trails, visit the official website for the book benches at: http://www.booksabouttown.org.uk
For more information about the National Literacy Trust, visit http://www.literacytrust.org.uk