I wrote earlier about the mysterious book sculptor of Edinburgh, Scotland, who has been anonymously gifting extraordinary book sculptures "in support of libraries, books, words and ideas" since 2011. Last spring, she announced that she would be creating her final sculpture and invited submissions of paper butterflies to be included. She received butterflies from book lovers worldwide, from ages 8 to 80.
Using old magazines, book catalogues, and books ready for a second life, I made a small collection to send. Here are some photos I took as I was getting ready to send them off to meet the artist: Butterflies Taking Flight! For the Love of of Libraries, Books, Words and Ideas...
The final sculpture, The Butterfly Tree, was revealed on August 13, 2016, for the Edinburgh International Book Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland (running through August 29).
THE FINISHED SCULPTURE
To see the finished sculpture, visit THE BUTTERFLY TREE photo album, which shows the tree, which is sculpted into a beautiful scene. The artist also included a handmade storybook, also shown in the photos, called "Once..."
Also see the video "The Butterfly Tree and the Lost Child" by Butterflies on the Move, who collected butterflies for the artist as they arrived. The video begins with another special butterfly book sculpture by the artist and includes the call for butterflies, butterflies arriving, and the new sculpture.
Inspired by the artist, here are two new poems for libraries, books, words, ideas, and the artist, who has me dreaming of butterflies...
By Linda Eve Diamond
The tiny caterpillar nibbles
at storybooks and scribbles.
Naturally, it finds its way
to the library one day—
a colorful garden of leaves
on which to feed.
Hour by hour
the bookworm devours
words and tidbits.
Shedding old skin tickles
and growing new tingles
then an inkling of something divine
feels like stars twinkling inside
as the bookwork whirls on a silken spin
through story threads and explorations within.
Inside, bright colors emerge and glow
as wings flutter and grow—
Forever free in the library’s shining light,
a kaleidoscope of butterflies taking flight!
(Note on the phrase, "Taking Flight": Once upon a time, “taking flight” was a term for reading.)
THE FREE-TO-FLY BUTTERFLY TREE
By Linda Eve Diamond
For libraries, books, words and ideas, the book sculptor sows seeds
and blows them worldwide, inviting paper butterflies for a tree.
Flutters of wings emerge from old books and magazines
cut free to fly new designs and found words to the scene.
Words divine, words that shine, words of desire and intrigue,
words that dance and spin, sing and ring, inspire and breathe.
We are all lost children, found in reading bits of fantasy,
now gathered here beneath this tree to read, share and dream.
This passage opens to countless connections and stories,
like a book leaf’s metamorphosis to an artisan’s tree leaves...
For the love of libraries, learning and beauty,
books, words, ideas, art and community.
(On The Butterfly Tree sculpture, “in support of libraries, books, words and ideas," by the artist known as Free to Fly)
"JOINING OUR VOICES TOGETHER"
Along with so many others, I'm thankful to Free to Fly for her generosity, creativity, and the community she inspired with her heartfelt creations, from the first "Poetree," through each special piece, to The Butterfly Tree, which includes every butterfly sent to her.
Here's what she had to say in a BBC interview about inviting butterfly contributions for this final sculpture: "It's been obvious since the start of the project five years ago that there is a world of people who care about public libraries and universal access to literacy... The collaboration was a way of us joining our voices together." On her Twitter account ( for now, still @_freetofly_ ), she also mentioned the importance of including every butterfly sent to her: "Everyone is allowed in a library. That's how it was with the tree. Only butterflies fighting or smoking in the crime aisle risked expulsion." Thank you, Free to Fly! xx
Find detailed photographs of the first 10 sculptures, along with the stories behind them, in the book: Gifted: The Tale of 10 Mysterious Book Sculptures Gifted to the City of Words and Ideas.
Here are some links in support of libraries:
- The World's 20 Most Stunning Libraries (Fodor's Travel)
- Reasons for Public Libraries (Voices for the Library)
- Social Role of the Library (American Library Association)
- 23 Reasons Why Your Library is the Most Important Place in Town (Public Libraries Online)
Also, follow and share on social media with hashtags #Libraries #LibrariesMatter #LibrariesWordsIdeas and check out I work at a public library (a fun librarian's blog) :)