May 21, 2013
Bookseller sculpts unwanted books into art
by Nick Davies
This week, the British Academy is celebrating Literature Week, five days of events including an evening of William Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre, lectures, and poetry readings. Throughout the week, attendees will also be able to see an exhibit of the work of Justin Rowe, an artist who takes a scalpel to books that would otherwise be discarded, and turns them into sculptures.
Rowe’s exhibit, “Turning the Page,” will be on display at the Academy through Friday. A bookseller by trade, Rowe started sculpting books as a hobby in 2010, the BBC reports, when he wanted to create a Christmas display for the Cambridge University Press’s bookshop window. He’s emphatic about the fact that he only uses books that would have otherwise been discarded, searching charity shops and explaining, “I never use anything that has any kind of value. This really is art made out of other people’s junk.”
Rowe has created one sculpture specifically for Literature Week, using the pages of one book to and depicting several 3D characters at the base and birds flying around the top. In addition to this one-off, he’ll be showing several of his other pieces, which, as the British Academy website puts it, “explore the importance of not just respecting literature for literature’s sake, but showing the tactile beauty of books as art and sculptures themselves.” Some of my favorites are in the following slideshow, and you can see them all at Rowe’s website, Days Fall Like Leaves.
The Kraken, one of Justin Rowe’s works on display at the British Academy’s Literature Week.
For a 2012 Christmas window display, Rowe created this Midwinter Bookscape.
From Rowe’s 2011 Christmas window display of the Twelve Days of Christmas, a partridge in a pear tree.
Part of a sculpture that’s somewhat based on a print by American artist Karen Kilimnik.
This depiction of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s trip to the Antarctic was commissioned by a client of Rowe’s.
Mr. Toad of The Wind in the Willows
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.