Thursday 22 August 2019

Artist and author Edmund de Waal hits out at ‘vicious’ library closures

He said closing a library is ‘one of the most vicious, violent things you can do to a community’.

Edmund de Waal has criticised the closure of libraries as a “violent” act (Fulvio Orsenigo/PA)
Edmund de Waal has criticised the closure of libraries as a “violent” act (Fulvio Orsenigo/PA)

By Sherna Noah, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Artist and author Edmund de Waal has criticised the closure of libraries as a “violent” act.

The author of The Hare With Amber Eyes and The White Road is preparing to unveil a major exhibition of new work at this year’s Venice Biennale.

One of his creations is a Library Of Exile, featuring almost 2,000 books by exiled writers from Ovid to the contemporary.

But the Costa Award-winner told the Press Association that he had also been angered by the closure of libraries closer to home.

“In terms of shortsightedness, to close a library in a community is one of the most vicious, violent things you can do to a community,” he said.

“You take away all that space for reflection.

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Library Of Exile features almost 2,000 books by exiled writers (PA)

“You often take away the only silent space that children have in their lives at all.”

Some parents have said their “children have nowhere to do their homework now.

“But more than that, you are saying something so profound, if you close a library, about not investing in possibility.”

For children in “chaotic homes”, libraries offer a quiet place, he said.

“There is so much research on that…  you are alone but it’s a social space.

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Library Of Exile will be unveiled at Venice Biennale (PA)

“When you’re reading a book you’re alone but there are all the other voices of the books around you.”

Last year, The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson called for an end to the closure of libraries, amid funding pressures with local councils, as she was awarded a CBE.

The writer warned that younger generations are losing out and that “the access of children throughout our country to reading and libraries is endangered, with libraries shutting and the jobs of many professional librarians lost”.

Artist de Waal, known for his ceramics, will be the first contemporary artist to create a major exhibition of new work for the Ghetto in Venice.

PA Media

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