Excavating Babel - how more than 2,000 unwanted books turn into a monument for words

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By YouPR | Friday, January 11, 2013, 11:43

A stunning art installation of more than 2,300 books is the centrepiece of an exhibition at Sidcot School in Winscombe.

Tina Hill's 'Excavating Babel' in the school's Community Arts Centre is part of the school's annual Open Submission Exhibition from January 12th to February 9th.

Tina, 59 of Chapel Lane, Winford, said: "I got most of the books from the Oxfam shop in Bristol. They were going to be destroyed as they were too damaged to sell.

"I kept what I found in them – postcards, shopping lists, dedications and took six months to create the coiled structure."

 At three metres high by two and a half metres wide the spiral-shaped piece is based on the Bible's Genesis.

Tina wanted to depict how mankind once co-operated to build a tower but was punished by God who made them speak different languages, so they never co-operated again.

The covers of the books were removed so the words within remain mysterious and the walls include archaeological texts squashed by weight above them to become paper 'seams'. There are also medical books from Tina's 20 years as a doctor.

Tina qualified as a social psychologist and worked with women and children subjected to domestic violence. She then went to medical school and was a GP for 20 years before switching to art.

She added: "If you walk into the spiral of books you are cut off by a wall of words you cannot read. The ultimate failure in communication is war.

"The Tower of Babel was built in the ancient city of Babylon. After the invasion of Iraq the Americans built a military base and removed archaeological material to fill sandbags.

"At the base of my tower is 'word dust' that is symbolic of losses but carries the potential for new books and communication.

'On a personal level Excavating Babel is a monument to books in an increasingly digital world and how important they still are."

Sidcot Community Arts Manager Emma Davis said: "This is an amazing piece of artwork that tunes in with what Quakers believe in, that peace and communication are essential to life and understanding humanity."

The exhibition is on until Saturday February 9th.   Opening times are Saturdays 10am – 4pm, Tuesdays 2pm – 7pm, and Thursdays 2pm – 6pm (closed Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays).  Viewing at other times is available by appointment. 

In addition Sidcot School offers a range of evening and weekend classes including Ladies Choir, Smart Phone Photography, Printmaking classes, lectures and a performance of 'Simply Jane' exploring 18th Century author Jane Austen. There are also children's' art workshops and adult art classes.

For further information go to www.sidcot.org.uk (Community Activities) or contact Emma Davis on 01934 845299 or email emma.davis@sidcot.org.uk.



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