This post originally appeared on the Library as Incubator Project in January 2015.

Today it’s my pleasure to welcome Bobby Sayers to the Library as Incubator Project. Bobby’s “We Make New” sculpture created for the Artworks in Libraries program for Scottish Book Week caught my eye and I knew he’d have some interesting perspectives to share about libraries. Enjoy! ~ Laura

Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Please introduce yourself! Who are you, and what sort of creative work do you do?

Bobby Sayers (BS): Hi I’m Bobby Sayers an artist based in Glasgow but was born in sunny sunny Romford, Essex, the land of the pie and mash and pearly kings and queens. I have been practicing professionally since 2012 after graduating from Nottingham Trent University. I feel I am a sculptor at heart but I use many mediums to portray ideas that I feel passion about. Past work has involved performance, video, gifting of small sculptures and creation of large colourful sculptures. My interest is in the transformation of things that are not seen as beautiful on the peripherals of our everyday lives. We often think of the top of the mountain as the place that hold an essence of the sublime but I believe that it is all around us, especially in cities which contain mechanisms and objects that allow complex systems to function so effortlessly.

LAIP: What is or has been your relationship to libraries – as a user, as an artist, however you feel like answering the question…?

BS: I would love to be the person to say that I have connected with libraries my whole life but it has only been of recent years and when studying that I really saw the value of libraries. While participating in the Artworks for Libraries commissioned by Scottish Book Trust for Book Week Scotland 2014, I saw an even greater use of the library, as it was the first time I had also seen a library as a community hub. The people that worked at Lennoxtown Library were so helpful to everyone and library users that I worked with were positive and passionate.

Libraries are where you can become someone new, where you can transform, through the books that you read. The library is extremely important.

LAIP: Tell us about the “We Make New” project you created for Scottish Book Week. How did you come to be involved in that event, and what was your process like for creating “We Make New”?

BS: Pidgin Perfect selected me after an application process in which I proposed something very similar to my outcome. Which was to explore the library itself, engage with the people that use the library and the community around the library. It was a new experience and one that I value very much, as this was my first permanent public artwork. The workshops undertaken as part of the project allowed me to meet many people of all ages that lived around the library. My work is very much about the ‘now’ and transforming what is there already through slight shifts in perspective, thinking or adding a narrative.

"We Make New" by Bobby Sayers.

“We Make New” by Bobby Sayers.

For Lennoxtown I had many trips to the library in which I would simple photograph small elements within the library, finding things that intrigued me, whether I felt they held an inherent beauty or resonated with feelings and stories that the people of Lennoxtown had communicated. I decided to display 8 images I had taken as part of the artwork and each image would have a short poem connected to it, all poems read from left to right to create a whole (loose) narrative, taking the viewer on a journey. For me this artwork spoke about how you can be whatever you want to be, it is up to you but also that there is such beauty within what is here already (in Lennoxtown). Another challenge for me was creating an artwork related and used Jackie Kay’s poem ‘Dear Library’ in way that added more and created a visual narrative. This came about as Jackie’s poem functioned as the foundations for the artworks narrative allowing my outcome to follow parallel to Jackie’s, which if I do say so myself is definitely worth a gander.

"Krásné Svět (beautiful world)" by Bobby Sayers.

“Krásné Svět (beautiful world)” by Bobby Sayers.

LAIP: Tell me about what we’d find on your inspiration book shelf – what are some of your favorite titles and/or authors for inspiration or reference?

BS: My bookshelf currently only has objects and artworks collected over recent years. As I have never been much of a bookworm more the person that reads chunks of text online and forgets who they were by. Though in regards to art I would recommend Inside the White Cube by Brain O’Doherty, this appealed to the anarchist within me as it takes fire at the current white cube gallery system. For non-artists I would read Patti Smith’s book as it really allows you into the mind of an artist and why they make such strange life choices and scarifies for the passions in their lives. Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist was a pivotal book for me as I felt it was parallel to my positive outlook of the now and what could be considered the ‘gold’ that we are all looking for. I am now looking forward reading Grayson Perry’s new book Playing to the Gallery and seeing what Russell Brand in his book Revolution is saying especially as the general elections are fast approaching it is always good to survey all ideas on the future of politics. Something needs to change in society!

LAIP: As an artist, what would your ideal library look or be like? What would it have in it? What would it offer for its users?

BS: My ideal library… that is a good question. For me it would be much more than a library in a traditional sense, it would be a cultural and community hub. A extremely relaxed atmosphere, where you are encouraged to sit and enjoy time reading or writing or even socialising over a cup of tea. There would be theatre and talks that related to different books and loads of beanbags! Loads of natural light to make you feel warm and connected to nature, perhaps throw in some plants too. I think when I was younger I needed a place that engaged with unruly teens, showing them that there is more to books than squiggles on paper, especially if they are dyslexics, which most creatives are. Perhaps films and other outlets could be played in libraries too and groups read short manageable passages together and discuss ideas around them, engaging people in different ways, as we all learn differently.

See more of Bobby’s work at his website, www.bobbysayers.com.

Check out this video about the library artwork.

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