Lending Department 1881

This project was part of ‘The Library of Lost Books’ and took place with and within Birmingham Library at a dramatic and controversial time of evolution in its history. As the old building disappeared and its contents were rehoused (or pulped), what remained was transferred to a new building. This new building is the largest public cultural space in Europe and the largest regional library in Europe.

As a start to the project, antique books saved from the pulping machine were sent to participants. I was sent the Catalogue of Books in the Lending Department of The Borough of Richmond, published in 1881. As I opened the fragile book, it happened to split between listings for ‘god’ and ‘gold’. I thought about how the catalogue spanned an interesting time period where the structuring of knowledge and belief was shifting from the religious to the scientific. I made a series of images derived from titles of books in the listings. The printed images were fitted back into the broken book at their indexical source as visual markers of changing ideas.

‘The Library of Lost Books’ was curated by by Susan Kruse and shown at The Pavilion, Birmingham Library, 2013





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Matthew Richardson Artist + Illustrator
© Matthew Richardson 2021