Click here to purchase the Illuminating Cambridge Libraries photography series monograph. Showing nearly 500 photographs throughout 160 pages, the oversized 32 x 28 cm photobook published in 2020 contains many photos from this earlier exhibition. Note, the photobook is considered the complete series. This exhibition at the Heong Gallery was held mid-way through the series shoot and therefore only shows 26 (out of 31) libraries in the series. I’m still keen to hold a final exhibition showcasing all 31 libraries, but I’ll need space even larger than the Heong. If you have a space or know of a space that might be suitable, please do get in touch!
One library from my childhood had a small amphitheater made from carpeted blocks. These three or four tiers of simple cubic structures created angular shadows and cozy corners into which I would retreat to reduce my towering stack of prospective books. While lying on these blocks whittling down my pile, I would inevitably pay as much attention to the blocks and spaces as to the books – hard linear shadows softened by carpet fibers, imperfect joins and curled carpet corners, the flimsy false blue-grey wall separating the kids from the grownups, the harsh and flickering fluorescent lighting in ugly utilitarian fixtures. In hindsight, it was a rather dismal aged area, but it didn’t matter to me – I was hooked. This love of libraries turned first into an academic career where research and lecturing proved studious enough to keep me in libraries, however it didn’t fill my need for visual aestheticism that persisted since my early years spent in my grandma’s darkroom.
Wall of Windows
Windows bring us from darkness to light. They change our moods and authorise a momentary lapse of concentration, altering our focus just long enough to straighten out that pesky writer’s block. They also play a role in material deterioration – accelerating it with direct sunlight or protecting it with curtains. Overall, windows are the harbinger of fresh – fresh air, fresh thought, fresh viewpoint – all of which are required to open our minds, to discover the adventures that wait for us in the library.
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