Artists embark on a Fifth-Size Book Adventure

Artists are being given a unique opportunity to take part in a project inspired by a collection of fifth-size books held at Newcastle City Library.

The books are usually stored away from public view on account of their large size.

But they have been dusted down (in some cases literally) to inspire a six-month project entitled The Fifth-Size Book Adventure.

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Jane Shaw addressing artists at the information day

It has been developed by Jane Shaw, from People into Enterprise and Durham Creatives, and is funded by Arts Council England.

The programme is limited to 20 participants and 100 people have registered their interest so far – including me!

I went along to an information day after hearing about the project via Durham Creatives.

Having never heard of a fifth-size book, I was intrigued, especially when I Googled fifth-size book and couldn’t find a definition!

It’s basically a library classification system, with the majority of books on the shelves classed as first-size. The further up the scale you go, the larger the books are!

Jane describes the fifth-size book collection as a “really eclectic” mix of old and also quite new books, covering a range of subjects, from crime rates to maps to mechanical drawings to suits of armour.

She said: “We want to create an opportunity for artists to investigate the resources in the library and really explore the fifth-size books and create pieces of work that subsequently get exhibited in the library in November.”

Of the books on display at the information event, I unsurprisingly homed in on one that contained some stunning calligraphy – Silvestre’s Universal Palaeography, published in 1849.

(Palaeography is the study of historic handwriting).

Jane is keen to attract a variety of artists to the programme, including visual artists, writers, performers, makers, dancers and musicians, who are in the early stages of their career.

They will have the opportunity to work with commercially successful artists, including Jo Coupe, Liv Lorent, Steve Messam and Alice Fox, access bursaries and participate in professional development workshops.

The idea is that the project, which starts in May, will give them a springboard to take their creative career forward, which is something definitely appeals to me.

I can’t wait to start working on my application!

Click here to find out more about the project and the second information session on March 20.

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