London to host book-themed benches next summer

Public arts group Wild in Art is to install a series of book-themed benches across London, allowing the public to sit on some of literature’s best-loved works.

Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows bench, designed by Mik Richardson
Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows bench, designed by Mik Richardson

The Books About Town scheme, which is being run with the National Literacy Trust and supported by Visit England, will see around 50 – 70 benches designed by Wild in Art creative director Chris Wilkinson placed across the capital, each illustrated with imagery inspired by a book with links to the capital.

Each bench will take the same shape, designed to resemble an open book.

Two benches have been created so far – Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, designed by Mik Richardson and George Orwell’s 1984, designed by Thomas Dowdeswell.

George Orwell’s 1984 bench, designed by Thomas Dowdeswell.
George Orwell’s 1984 bench, designed by Thomas Dowdeswell.

The final number of benches will depend on sponsorship, as each bench will be supported by local business. Those already signed up include KPMG, which is sponsoring a Peter Pan themed bench, and publisher Walker Books, which is supporting a bench based on Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

Rosen says, ‘I love the idea of sitting on giant books. With the Bear Hunt big BookBench, I suppose you can say that you can’t go through it, but you can go over it, you can go under it or better still you can sit on it’.

The benches will be in place from July 2014 for ten weeks, after which they will be auctioned off to raise funds for the National Literacy Trust, which aims to tackle low literacy levels in deprived UK communities.

Artists and designers are being invited to submit ideas for the project. The submissions pack can be downloaded from the Books About Town website.

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