Would you curl-up on this book bed?

London artist Ruth Beale's bed-and-book exhibition explores the library's role within the collective imagination
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Installation view from Bookbed (2014) by Ruth Beale
Installation view from Bookbed (2014) by Ruth Beale

Perhaps you, like us, have taken a quiet nap in a library at one time or another. If you have, then you might find Ruth Beale's book-shaped bed unduly welcoming. 

Her exhibition, Bookbed, is on at the Peckham Platform gallery in London until 23 March. It centres around this book-shaped bed set within a dreamy mis-en-scene and also includes some other large book works, a modest library and a lo-fi, self-publishing station'. All this, Beale says, is there to examine the role of publicly available texts today.

 

Installation view from Bookbed by Ruth Beale
Installation view from Bookbed by Ruth Beale

"Libraries are one of the few meeting points between society and the individual, public and private," says the artist. "Like all public services, their value is being scrutinised in financial terms," she continues, making reference to recent UK public spending cuts, which led to the closure of hundreds of libraries. 

"I wonder if that symbolic power can ever be measured. Working with young people at Peckham Library - actually a real success story - will be an opportunity to use the library as a creative space, and to explore these concepts of the book and library in the collective imagination."


London artist Ruth Beale
London artist Ruth Beale

Bed aside, the show will also feature a number of readings, presentations and workshops, some hosted by Beale and her collaborators, some hosted by Peckham Platform, while others will take place in the nearby library.

This isn't the first book-based work Beale has produced. Plenty of her art focuses on the social and artistic role of texts and archives. She even dressed up as a book for a series of events in 2011.

Public Knowledge, Ruth Beale, (2011)
Public Knowledge, Ruth Beale, (2011)

While this might all feel a bit wacky, books remain incredibly important and increasingly under threat, in a culture where cost cutting often begins with the bookshelves. Find out more about this here. And for guidance on how to build your own art library with attitude, go here.


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