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BookBenches get Nottingham primary schools chirping

Gareth Morgan
Mon 9 Jul, 2018

If you've been into Nottingham over the past few days, you've probably seen some rather large robins and books around the streets. What are they? Gareth Morgan explains

There has been a flurry of activity in Nottingham this summer term as more than 50 “BookBenches” have been painted by local primary schools as part of Hoodwinked, a city-wide art trail, and its education programme “Robin’s Tales”.

The benches, designed to look like open books, will be on display at neighbourhood libraries and leisure centres, as well as at Central Library, intu Victoria Centre and intu Broadmarsh shopping centres, from July 7 to September 30, alongside thirty-three statues of 6-foot robins (feathered facsimiles of our famous outlaw, Robin Hood) that will be all across the City Centre.

In the autumn, the Robins will be auctioned off to raise money for Nottinghamshire Hospice whilst the BookBenches will return to their schools as a reminder of this amazing Hoodwinked summer.

The BookBenches have been decorated in a huge range of different designs – from favourite books, authors and illustrators to celebrating our city and its different communities. Others are highlight specific issues, such as such Edna G Olds Academy in Lenton whose bench looks at pollution in our oceans, or twinning-links, like the bench of Blessed Robert Widmerpool school in Clifton looking at their friendship with a school in Bunkpurugu, Ghana.

“We hope that the BookBenches will be a lasting place for children to enjoy and discover stories and new literary heroes for many years to come.”

The project hopes that, through art and literacy activities, both in and out of school, a captivating world of tales, legends and local history will be opened up for thousands of primary school pupils across the city, helping to instil a lifelong love of reading and stories; creating a valuable legacy.

Hoodwinked is being delivered by Nottingham City Council and Wild in Art, whose expertise has overseen sculpture trails worldwide. The education programme has been sponsored by Boots who have a long history of supporting literacy projects in their home city. Elizabeth Fagan, senior vice president and managing director of Boots, said: “To read and learn is one of life’s great pleasures, and it’s something that we believe that every person should have the opportunity to enjoy.

"Boots has a long-standing commitment to improving literacy and access to reading for all. In the 1890s, Florence Boot created the Book Lovers’ Libraries in Boots stores before public libraries were common, so partnering Robin’s Tales is a fitting way of continuing and honouring her legacy.

"We hope that the BookBenches will be a lasting place for children to enjoy and discover stories and new literary heroes for many years to come.”

It’s been a real hit with the schools too, who can’t wait to see their benches on display in the community. Pete Bevington, Leader of Enhancement & Enrichment at the SHINE Multi Academy Trust which runs Scotholme and Whitemoor schools in the city, said: “The beauty of this project has been that it allows our schools to produce a piece of art which will take centre-stage in the local community. There is rarely a greater sight than seeing the pride on a child's face when their work is displayed in front of, and is valued by, a real-life audience.

“What's more, our pupils have been challenged to link their designs to famous books and authors - and so the BookBench has become a valuable tool in hooking them into a wealth of literature. We can't wait to see what the finished benches look like!”

Councillor Dave Trimble, Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Localities, said: “Children in primary schools right across the city can be very proud of the part they are playing in creating a brilliant art trail for Nottingham this summer.

"People following the trail will see the unique BookBenches in the city centre and will also have the opportunity to find more in libraries and leisure centres they might not have visited before. I’m looking forward to seeing all the great artwork on display citywide.”

Hoodwinked is a free public art trail that will see 33 robin statues, sponsored by local businesses, displayed across the city centre, and 55 BookBenches exhibited in libraries, leisure centres and both intu shopping centres from 7 July to 30 September. For more info visit www.hoodwinked2018.co.uk or the Nottingham Tourism Centre for maps and trail guides.

Please check library opening times before visiting here.


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