Nelson artist Lee Woodman is creating a sculpture made from un-sellable books from the Founders Book Fair. Photo: Kate Russell.

Old books building blocks of new life


Thousands of books may not have been in good enough condition to sell at the Founders Book Fair, but they are still being put to good use.

Pre-loved Encyclopedia Britannicas, dictionaries and more have taken on a new life as building blocks for a sculpture at the home of the popular book bonanza.

The man behind the idea is Nelson artist Lee Woodman, who is creating a derelict colonial cottage for the Nelson Arts Festival, called ‘If walls could talk’.

“Charlie Unwin [festival director] approached me with the brief of creating something using recycled material. Then, I saw the books at Founders,” he says.

“I’m a builder by trade and books are a building blocks of sorts. Every month there is a whole skip of books that is taken away from here to be recycled.”

Over the course of the festival, Lee will be making his way through six apple bins full to create his masterpiece – that’s around 3000 books.

He says the idea is inspired by a small cottage that has been left to fall apart, with the chimney and attached gable end being the last to fall. Lee started on Saturday and will be working on the sculpture on the main grass area at Founders Heritage Park.

If it rains, there may be a few swollen books on show, but Lee says that’s all part of the charm.

You can see Lee working on the sculpture from 1-8pm every day until 28 October.