On Monday June 20, 2022 this project's art exhibition, with the title "Why Public Libraries?", opened at the Wester-Hailes Public Library in Edinburgh Scotland. Consisting of four pieces of artwork, the exhibition opening was part of Refugee Festival Scotland, which began on June 17, 2022. The theme of Refugee Festival Scotland 2022 is storytelling, which fits the goal of this project: to share the stories of people seeking sanctuary and their experiences with libraries.
The art exhibition will remain at Wester-Hailes Public Library in Edinburgh until July 20, 2022. If you can't make it to Edinburgh, never fear! The exhibition artwork and descriptions will also be displayed here on their own page under a tab labeled "Why Public Libraries?" from July 20, 2022 onwards.
Thank you to the amazing artists who submitted their work to the exhibition, and wrote such powerful words about their relationship with their libraries. If you are interested in contacting the artists, contact email@example.com and she will inform the artists of your interest in their work. If you want to submit your own work to be included in the online exhibition, contact the same email or use the contact form page.
Thank you all who have followed this projects journey. Thank you to the artists who shared their work and their stories. Thank you to the Scottish Refugee Council and the Edinburgh Public Libraries for facilitating a physical exhibition.
Earlier this month I hosted a workshop with Funday Friday from City of Sanctuary. The workshop was a way for me to share information about this art exhibition project and to help people learn a new skill (or give them the space to practice a skill they already had). I gave a brief presentation (see slides at the end of this post) talking about this project, and how it connects to crochet and other forms of artwork.
Crochet, knitting, weaving, and other textile/threadwork can and should be seen as artwork (I'll make a full post on this in the future), and can also often be practical. For example, one can make clothing items, religious or spiritual artefacts, or even items that communicate messages. Being able to create practical and artistic items at the same time is very powerful and the techniques manifest differently depending on the type of creation or cultural background (for example, an ancestral technique might be weaving, rather than crochet or embroidery). In my case, crochet is something I was first exposed to as a child and learned from books at the library. For me, creating a crochet creation for the prompt for the art exhibition (see previous post to see the prompt) would answer the prompt two-fold: I learned to crochet from resources at the public library, and I can crochet something that also represents why I use the public library. The goal of the crochet workshop was to help help people learn or practice a practical skill that also allows for artistic expression.
I am pleased to say that the workshop seemed to go well (and a second hour has also been scheduled for today), and I hope to be able to run additional workshops to help people learn, and give people a place to practice, the skill of crochet.
Sculpture - a 3D form of artwork often created by carving, casting, or molding - is an ancient art form that is usually quite durable. Though the sculptures may not be the same quality as they were when new, we can still experience intact sculptures from ancient times, such as the Great Sphinx of Giza, the Venus of Willendorf, and terracotta warriors in China.
Sculpture can take the form of freestanding statues - such as the examples above - or what is called "relief", where the sculpture juts out from a different surface, such as a wall or a coin. Statues can be made of many types of material. Stone, metal, and wood are all materials people have used to create statues throughout history. Totem poles - such as those made by Indigenous tribes in the North Western Americas - were often made of wood, while the large statues found at the Sanxingdui site in China were bronze, and the statues on Easter Island were made of stone.
Sculptures are often direct representations of objects in the world, though they can be abstract as well. Many sculptures hold symbolic meaning in addition to the object they represent, such as in Totem poles. Whether you prefer direct representations or abstract imaginings, sculptures can connect us to our cultures and be fun to make. Depending on the goal, you may have items around the house you can use to make your own sculpture (legos, blocks, bread dough, paper, bits of wire/fluff/paper, empty tea boxes, clay, garden stones, plants from your garden, and more). If you have the time, take a short break and build your own sculpture of whatever you want! Use the time to be creative and let stress and worries go away for a few minutes!
If you like creating sculptures, consider creating one that follows the prompt of the art exhibition (see below), take a picture of the completed sculpture, and submit it to be shown in the exhibition.
Take a photo or create a piece of artwork that represents why you use the public library.
If the ways you use the public library have changed since you came to the UK, please also take a photo or create a piece of artwork that represents why the ways you use the public library have changed.
You can submit as many photos and pieces of artwork as you like.
Easter Island Heads - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sculpture#/media/File:Mo%C3%A1is.jpg
Sanxingdui Bronze Head with Golden Mask - By momo - Flickr: Gold Mask (黄金面罩), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28821850
Sphinx of Giza - https://www.britannica.com/topic/Great-Sphinx
Terracotta Warriors from China - https://mymodernmet.com/famous-sculptures-art-history/
Tlingit K'alyann Totem Pole - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sculpture#/media/File:Tlingit_K'alyaan_Totem_Pole_August_2005.jpg
Venus of Willendorf - https://mymodernmet.com/famous-sculptures-art-history/
Artwork has different meanings for different people. Often, people say "art" to discuss paintings, drawings, photography, and sculpture, but art encompasses so many additional things. Art can take the form of folded paper, collages, poems, song, embroidery, weaving, crochet/knitting, film, cooking, and more.
Origami (generally attributed to Japanese culture, though other cultures also have similar work) is a paper-folding art. In origami, a piece of paper is folded to create fantastic shapes, including cranes, frogs, elephants, and the childhood favourite paper airplane.
(The shapes that are created can be symbolic, a crane may signify healing, or not. Regardless, this artform can be used to create pretty much anything you want. And like the crochet used in the first sample on the project updates page the creations can be used to tell stories, such as why someone uses the public library.
Embroidery is an ancient art used all over the world to decorate textiles. From clothing to blankets to towels, embroidery has been used to both enhance the beauty of objects and express messages about the owner/wearer. Embroidery can communicate background and social status and in some cultures, such as Palestinian tradition, is passed down from mother to daughter as an important life skill (see picture of embroidered Palestinian dress). Special embroidered garments are used for weddings (see picture of embroidered Yemenite dress), while embroidered badges were once used in China to indicate civil rank (see Chinese badge).
Embroidery is versatile. The stitching can create images that depict a story, or the types of stitches may indicate the background of the creator/wearer (this can go so far as to depict an individual's feelings on a certain day). And the stitches could be another way to show why someone uses the public library.
Origami and embroidery are just two types of artwork - if I went into all of them, I would never stop writing and you would never stop reading - but they may not be what comes to mind when we hear the word "art". The exhibition being created accepts all types of artwork, including those arts that are not always the first thing that we think of when we hear the word. Do you fold paper? Embroider? Create collages? Use blocks and/or found objects for miniature architecture? Write poems? Re-create sea shanties? Whatever your medium, this exhibition is for you.
Complete the prompt below in whatever form of art you desire. Doodle, take a photograph, create a picture collage, sew a quilt: the possibilities are endless! I hope to see your creations soon.
Create a piece of art that represents why you use the public library.
If the ways you use the public library have changed since you came to the UK, please also create a piece of art that represents why the ways you use the public library have changed.
You can submit as many pieces of artwork as you like.
This project is working with refugees and asylum seekers in the UK who are at least 18 years of age.
History of Origami: https://origami.ousaan.com/library/historye.html
Origami Frog: https://origami.guide/origami-animals/origami-frogs/origami-jumping-frog/
Origami Crane: https://origami.guide/origami-animals/origami-birds/traditional-origami-crane/
Origami Elephant: Wikimedia picture of origami elephant
Paper Airplane: Public domain pictures paper airplane
Embroidered towels: TRC Collection
Tradition of Embroidery in Palestine: https://www.tatreezandtea.com/tatreez-and-tea
Palestinian dress: TRC Collection
Yemenite dress: TRC Collection
Chinese rank badge: TRC Collection
I am seeking art submissions from refugees and asylum seekers living in the UK who are older than 18 years of age. Submit your artwork for the exhibition now by e-mailing R.Salzano@napier.ac.uk. Follow the prompt below and set your artistic side free! Take a look at the "Project Updates" page to view some examples of art, photographs and other types of art, that might be submitted.
Take a photo or create a piece of art that represents why you use the public library.
If the ways you use the public library have changed since you came to the UK, please also take a photo or create a piece of art that represents why the ways you use the public library have changed.
You can submit as many photos and pieces of artwork as you like.
التقط صورة أو قم بإنشاء قطعة فنية توضح سبب استخدامك للمكتبة العامة.
إذا تغيرت طرق استخدامك للمكتبة العامة منذ قدومك إلى المملكة المتحدة ، فيرجى أيضًا التقاط صورة أو إنشاء قطعة فنية توضح سبب تغير طرق استخدامك للمكتبة العامة.
يمكنك إرسال العديد من الصور والقطع الفنية كما تريد.
Be sure to download, sign, and attach the consent form at the bottom of this post to your submission e-mail. Once you submit a piece of artwork Rachel will work with you to confirm the story behind your piece. Prizes will be awarded based on public voting (keep an eye on this website for further updates).
Please try to submit your artwork by early July, 2021 to allow time for the exhibition to be finalised for a July unveiling.
Why Use the Public Library is a public engagement project that is part of the PhD work of Rachel Salzano. The aim of this project is to engage the public with research on the relationship between culture and public library use. This will be done through the creation of an art exhibition, showcasing the perspectives of refugees and asylum seekers in Edinburgh.
Participants will provide photographs or other visual art as artefacts representing why they use the public library. These artefacts will be paired with the stories behind them to become an online (an eventually in-person) exhibition. The exhibition will be co-created by participants and the final exhibition will be available for the broader community to view. The Edinburgh community will be able to engage with the artwork through comments sections of the online exhibition (moderated by the researcher) on the hosting website and vote for favourite pieces of artwork (example category: Favourite Colour Scheme). Prizes will be awarded to participants based on these public votes. The community will also be able to view the art in an in-person exhibit when current regulations allow.
The goal for this project is to help bring communities in Edinburgh together and spark conversation between community members and public library providers. Stay tuned to this page for more blog posts about the project and keep an eye on the 'Project Updates' for information about recruitment and examples of art created for the project.
Rachel Salzano is a PhD student at Edinburgh Napier University. In her spare time she enjoys crocheting, drawing, reading, and collecting public library memberships. She hopes that her research will help bring together public library providers and their communities to enhance public library service provision.