Bookmarking Book Art – Updating the Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh

Still anonymous and still a mystery, the MBAE has given BBC Scotland an interview by email.

Below are past links on the Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh, including links to ten videos on the MBAE’s first ten gifts to Edinburgh.  For those wishing for more than digital proximity to the MBAE’s work, GiftEd is the name of the book published last in 2014 about the ten gifts.

And here are the YouTube videos showing the first ten sculptures “GIFTed” to Edinburgh:  Opening the first package  Sculpture 1: Poetree Sculpture 2: Coffin and Gramophone  Sculpture 3: Cinema  Sculpture 4: Dragon’s Nest  Sculpture 5: Tea, Cake and a Book  Sculpture 6:  Lost in a Good Book …  Sculpture 7:  Magnifying Glass  Sculpture 8:  Cap and Gloves  Sculpture 9:  Dinosaur  Sculpture 10: Street Scene


Bookmarking Book Art – The Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh & the Trick of the Light Theatre

Drawing to its close, does 2014 have any more treats or presents to bestow beyond the return of the Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh and the debut of “The Bookbinder” from New Zealand’s Trick of the Light Theatre?

The MBAE has donated a new sculpture — a fantastical paper replica of the 16th century merchant’s house known as Riddles Court set behind the Royal Mile — in support of its renovation as home to the Patrick Geddes Centre for Learning and Conservation.  The name of the building and that of the center could not be more appropriate.  This is the 12th gift to Edinburgh’s literary establishment from the artist whose identity remains a mystery.  As well, Geddes featured in the MBAE’s very first gift in 2011 to the Scottish Poetry Library, whose slogan “By leaves we live” originated with Geddes:

6f8915be82f058c2e4b8868455bedb6fread the source poem here). A regular but still anonymous frequenter of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the MBAE posted this video
dd7112103e7cfcd76cb2325a8efc8c5cof the Riddles Court sculpture in progress, echoing serendipitously “The Bookbinder”, a performance piece on the other side and bottom half of the globe by Trick of the Light Theatre this year.

The Bookbinder Copyright 2014 Trick of the Light Theatre
The Bookbinder
Copyright 2014 Trick of the Light Theatre

Written and performed by Ralph McCubbin Howell, directed by Hannah Smith, with music by Tane Upjohn Beatson, “The Bookbinder” incorporates book sculpture as pop-up book theater and was first performed at Arty Bees Bookshop during the New Zealand Fringe Festival 2014.

What a pleasure and gift that would be to find the MBAE and “The Bookbinder” in a common festival. If holiday wish lists are allowed, let’s add to it Moonbot Studios, home of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Morris Lessmore
Copyright 2011 Moonbot Studios

Bookmarking Book Art – Desperately seeking the MBAE

Paul St John Mackintosh posted some intriguing sleuth work at Teleread this month, occasioned by the Edinburgh International Book Festival.   The work—and identity—of the MBAE (Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh) has been a recurrent theme throughout the Festival.  She has delivered works specifically for the Festival, which are part of her “Free to Fly” campaign (see @_freetofly_). One of them has attracted the autographs of some of the celebrated authors in attendance.


On his way back to his digs in Edinburgh, Mackintosh says,

I stopped off at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to see their fascinating “Witches and Wicked Bodies” exhibition. In their permanent collection is this work by André Breton, entitled Poème Objet (Poem-Object):

Poème Objet, André Breton
Poème Objet, André Breton

Mackintosh notes several other distinctive works in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art that find echoes in the works left by the MBAE in various places around Edinburgh such as the Leith Library and the Scottish Poetry Library.  Edinburgh’s mystery book sculptures even have their own Wikipedia page.

MBAE’s “Free to Fly” campaign, run appropriately from her Twitter account, came to a close on the 21st of August, but as she writes in her farewell,

freetofly ‏@_freetofly_21 Aug

I’m no good with protracted goodbyes so I’m flitting. Till next time. In support of libraries, books, words, ideas LITERACY IS FREEDOM

I’ll leave this twitter account open for a few days in case folk want to catch up. Thanks again. We’ve been a great team……

Books On Books hopes that we haven’t heard or seen the last of the MBAE.  May she arise phoenix-like.

Bookmarking Book Art — Flight of the Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh

The Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh has delivered by post a third sculpture in a bird-inspired series to the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust (EUCL).   For aficionados of the MBAE, the EUCL site provides the most comprehensive source to date of links and media on the artist’s work.  As well, the MBAE’s Twitter address can be found there.

With the third piece, the artist has taken her work to the brink of didacticism, sentimentalism and “good works.” As much as one may applaud the literacy movement, its message weighs heavily, albeit it cleverly, on the feathers delicately sculpted from book pages and the paperclip body stored in a stickered cardboard travel chest along with a miniature copy of Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds and Other Stories, a small beaked and goggled flight helmet, a flight map and instructions on how to assemble the sculpture.  It is perhaps the instruction sheet that leaves the brink behind as one reads the hortatory UNESCO-ese shown here.

From the Literary City
(c) Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust 2013

The instruction sheet promises more to come after this last in the “Preparing to Fly” series.  What that more may be can be followed (chased?) @#freetofly on Twitter.  At which point though, art seems to have flown the coop and left us up a “twee.”

Perhaps what the MBAE launches next will bring her body of work so far nearer to its roots (or roost?) in Joseph Cornell’s exquisite boxes.

Bookmarking Book Art – Karine (France’s answer to the Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh)

“Encore une fois bienvenue dans les coulisses de mon prochain défi: faire entrer un peu de poésie à l’intérieur d’une cloche de verre avec pour point de départ un vieux livre dépoussiéré de J. Feildel: Le Jardin – 1942.”

For those who enjoy the work of the Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh (MBAE), the details of the small house within a bell-jar will equally appeal.  The artist is Karine, who goes by the name AnemyaPhotoCreations at and FaceBook.  The fine, dexterous work in the sculpted roses and cat in the garden, the clothes hanging from the miniature clothesline and the paper spray of water from the paper watering can held by the paper gardener raises the piece above simply being a garden scene suggested by the content of the book being altered.   Karine’s work is every bit as delicate as that of the MBAE.

Do visit AnemyaPhotoCreations to see Karine’s other work “Piano,” “Les petites filles modeles” and “Reading is escaping.” You will half suspect that she has made some round trips to Edinburgh.