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The Lost Library - Part 1

5th July 2016

Lost Library: Part 1

Meadow Arts supports emerging artists by offering an annual prize to a graduating student from Hereford College of Arts' Fine Art BA (Hons) course. Our 2014 prize winner was Catherine Wynne-Paton, here she writes about her current project, Lost Library.

Q:       What do you get when an artist gets together with a library, a local book and a well-known Welsh festival?

A:        A lost library!

LOST LIBRARY Border Country – a collaborative performance.

LOST LIBRARY Border Country is the first phase in a project intending to raise the profile of libraries generally and Abergavenny Library in particular and this part will culminate in performances during the Monmouthshire & District National Eisteddfod.

Writing in The Print Shed's garden

Writing in The Print Shed's garden

Back in the spring of 2015 I had the notion of ‘bathe in ignorance’ on my mind and it was something I had to respond to – I wondered how I might Bathe in my own ignorance? Naturally (for me) I headed to my local library to find the biggest dictionary they had and chose a few pages to work with and from those pages I noted the words I didn’t understand. This gave me 254 words, which I projected through paper and later black plastic by pricking the words into the material in dot form. I then made the black plastic into a tepee-like tent and, luckily in May we had beautifully strong sunshine and once inside I had the form of the words projected onto me and anything within the tent. In the summer I began painting, acrylic on canvas – the starting point being one of the words, working intuitively. September found me exhibiting my work at a solo show at The Print Shed in Madley ( and as part of the show worked with the grass as my medium, this time using black plastic sheeting to write a few of the words across Jill Barnaby’s garden there. I am currently in the middle of painting all 254 words onto mini calico covered boards, picking words out of a bag.

Abergavenny Library

Abergavenny Library

Around this time, I began thinking about the positive impact libraries have on lives. At times in my life I have used the library a lot, at others, not so much. One way I have used the library – to find unknown words – has fed my curiosity in a way that simply wouldn’t have happened as easily without the library nearby. I wanted to find a way to bring attention to the library, discussions around the reduction of library services often seem so, well, quiet! Not just write about it in a blog, or another article in a newspaper, how could I make the library (and thoughts of libraries closing, opening hours reducing and staffing levels being squeezed) jump off the page and into life? Words and text are a pivot for much of my work and the possibility of turning text into movement has been forefront of my mind throughout this quest focussed on libraries (for their multi-faceted benefit to our society, including financial, which they don’t receive royalties for!)

Performances are on mornings of 29, 30 July, 2, 3,4,5 and 6 August 2016 between Abergavenny Library in Baker Street and the Eisteddfod site at Castle Meadows.

Sponsored by Friends of Abergavenny Library Services and The Library of Wales.  

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