Write your story on a new public art sculpture | Upfest

Write your story on a new public art sculpture

Time spent in lockdown inspired many Bristolians to rediscover their love for reading, and Upfest, together with Bristol Libraries are calling on the public to share passages from their favourite lockdown reads in a new public art project for Fishponds Library.


With the help of Bristol-based sculptor Tom Habben, the project will see an 12ft owl inscribed in the chosen passages installed on the outside of the East Bristol library as a symbol to promote reading for all ages in the city.


Habben, whose public sculpture work can be found across Bristol said: “I’m really excited to see this project taking form. It’s a definite passion for me creating public sculpture that reflects and compliments its surrounding space, architecture and community. I often work collaboratively with local people and businesses to create work from engagements, gathering a collection of material from which I can begin to design and sculpt. 


“The vision of using sculpture to promote reading spaces such as Fishponds library is very motivating. Books are a resource that in the modern age of social media and “swipe culture” have become ever-increasingly more difficult to fully engage with, as the fast-paced nature of the internet has a powerful effect on our attention spans. I’m looking forward to this opportunity for us to use this piece to start a conversation around why our reading spaces are just so important.”


To take part in the project, the public can submit a photo including the cover of their favourite book with the passage in the caption on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #BristolReads, tagging in @upfest and the author.


Stephen Hayles, founder of Upfest commented: “Whilst the concept of the project came about in 2019, we were noticing how, during lockdown, many people were commenting on how they have a new found love for reading books and we wanted to celebrate that and encourage people to keep the habit up.


“This has been a really fun project to work on and one with a message that we believe is so important and we’re excited to have Bristolians contribute to the final piece.”


The owl will be a permanent installation at the Fishponds branch with installation taking place before the end of October.


Councillor Asher Craig, Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries, said: “We’re really excited to be working with Tom and the team at Upfest to bring this project to life. We’re hoping this exercise will spark a conversation about the importance of reading and the impact that books have had on people’s lives and we can’t wait to see the responses we receive.


“Bristol’s libraries are community spaces that promote reading and learning as lifelong activities. This sculpture will be a reminder of that mission and start many conversations about books that have made a difference in people’s lives.”


Physical submissions of book passages will also be accepted at Fishponds, Henbury, Stockwood and Central Libraries as well as at the Upfest Gallery at 198 North Street in Bedminster, or by emailing gallery@upfest.co.uk.


For more information and updates on the project, please follow @upfest on all social media channels.

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