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Books endure [Oct. 20th, 2015|09:06 pm]
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On our way home from Kendal, we made a detour up to the Wall to see the Milecastle built of books by artist Dawn Felicia Knox.


The piece is called 'Simulacrum', and according to S., who knows about such things, is a reasonably accurate half scale model of a milecastle. The Hexham Courant quotes Lindsay Allason-Jones, who is, among other things, Chairman of the commissioning body, the Hadrian Arts Trust (they have a website, but it hasn't been updated lately). The idea, it seems, is to celebrate the introduction of literacy to Britain by the Romans. "It is because they did so that we know so much about Hadrian's Wall and those who lived here."

In this case, how should we interpret the temporary nature of the piece? Simulacrum is only intended to last a month. The same piece in the Courant quotes the artist: "The sculpture will begin to decay almost immediately - rain will permeate the books, the sun will crack the book covers and plants will begin to take root." Not yet:

Books do furnish a milecastle

The books are a bit windblown, a bit battered, but most of them are perfectly serviceable. I had to be firm with durham_rambler: "Look, here's something by Jean Cocteau - Les... something..." "Les Enfants Terribles, we have a copy." (Do we? I'm pretty sure we do...). The literacy handed to us by classical antiquity has not composted down into our national psyche, it remains a defiantly undigested lump, the imposed culture of the colonial power.

Or something. I suspect I'm overthinking this. It's art, and isn't improved by being squeezed to extract the message. Have some eye candy:

Autumn leaves

One last twist, though. Simulacrum is a scale model of a milecastle, but it's about the actual size of a turret; and it is situated in Walltown Quarry where turret 45B is, in fact, missing, destroyed soon after 1883 by the operations of the Greenland Quarry. Because the Victorians may have placed great value on a classical education, but they weren't going to let that stop them quarrying this useful rock.

From: cmcmck
2015-10-21 07:18 am (UTC)
Trouble is, I want to sit down inside and start reading all those books...........
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-10-21 09:07 am (UTC)
In theory, these are all books so undesirable they couldn't even be given to charity shops; in practice, our mileage varied, and so may yours...
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From: cmcmck
2015-10-21 11:47 am (UTC)
There is a copy of the Ladybird 'British Birds' on the top layer.

Undesirable? No!

This is a bibliophile's worst nightmare!
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-10-22 09:41 am (UTC)
You have sharp eyes! Yes, I spotted that one...

Edited at 2015-10-22 09:42 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: durham_rambler
2015-10-22 10:22 am (UTC)
People living near Hadrian's Wall have, throughout the centuries, robbed it to provide building stone for their own homes and buildings. So surely it is an entirely appropriate response to this artwork to remove books from it in order to furnish ones own home?
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From: cmcmck
2015-10-22 11:36 am (UTC)
That sounds perfectly reasonable to me! :o)
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From: cmcmck
2015-10-22 11:35 am (UTC)
We collect Ladybirds although the history ones mostly.
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