One of the most mysterious and exciting occurrences in the literary world last year was the appearance of a series of exquisite paper sculptures around the city of Edinburgh. The first appeared last March in the Scottish Poetry Library: a tiny, beautifully made tree growing out of an old book. It embodied the library’s motto: ‘By leaves we live’ and with it was a broken eggshell lined with words from a poem by Edwin Morgan. The sculpture, anonymously given, seemed to be a delightful one-off. But more paper masterpieces appeared throughout the year mainly in other libraries, literature centres and at the Edinburgh Book Festival. The last was discovered in the Scottish Poetry Library before Christmas: inspired by Norman McCaig’s poem ‘Gifts’, it recreated in paper the ‘impossible gifts’ of a wren’s wing cap and bees’ fur gloves. The identity of the sculptor remains unknown, and the charming notes which she left with each sculpture gave no clues.
I do not offer you impossible things
A year on from that first discovery, the SPL have very kindly lent StAnza their two sculptures to go on show at the Byre Theatre during the festival. Come and see for yourselves what the SPL have called ‘the purest of gifts, unrequested and anonymous’. This will be the first time any of the sculptures have been displayed outside Edinburgh.