North East-based environmental artist Steve Messam has been artist-in-residence at the City Library in Newcastle City Centre as part of a forthcoming exhibition of work entitled “Love Big Books”.

Messam is delivering a site specific installation exploring ‘size and space’ – culminating in images of three large scale creatively lit inflatables being inventively positioned inside the stunning architecture of this modern library.

The highlight being a 7-metre tall illuminated inflatable (almost the height of two double decker buses) being positioned to compliment the building’s internal structure.

The artist also positioned lit-up inflatables in the library’s plant room and in the general fiction and science fiction sections on the building’s 3rd floor.

‘Love Big Books’ is in exhibition of work by 22 of the region’s established and emerging visual artists, writers, performers, dancers and musicians, who have created artistic responses to the City Library’s rarely seen collection of ‘Fifth-Sized’ books.

These outsized volumes that few readers know the existence of, cover all sorts of subjects, and their size alone is what brings them together in their own small corner of the building. These wonderful objects deserve wider appreciation and have provided the inspiration and the context for the artists to make new work.

The creation and exhibition of new work is being delivered in association with Newcastle Libraries and funded by Arts Council England.

Messam brings his unique style to Newcastle that has left art lovers and audiences in awe across the world including places like China and Venice.

Steve Messam, said: “The thing that really inspired me was the architecture itself, and what the architecture means within the building. It’s about scale and light but also how the public use the library space accompanied by the bits that people don’t see. How the building breathes and how the building functions. I wanted to explore every aspect and facet of the library and not just the facade that everybody experiences day-to-day.”

Photographs of Steve’s work will be printed and compiled into their very own Fifth-Sized book.

Here is a list of some of the established creative practitioners involved in Love Big Books:

Jo Coupe, artist (sculpture)
Alice Fox, artist
Liv Lorent, Choreographer and founder of BalletLorent
Lucy Jenkins, curator
Rebecca Rose, writer and illustrator

The award-winning City Library, with its steel and glass structure, was re-opened in 2009 after being redesigned by Newcastle-based architects Ryder.

Councillor Kim McGuinness, Newcastle City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities, said: “The Love Big Books exhibition is a wonderful way of showing the public a library in a totally different light. It’s a celebration of what libraries have to offer people seen through creative eyes. It shows people how the buildings are more than just a place to borrow books but they have a social, educational, informative and entertaining function to so many residents, students and visitors who use the library every day.

“The project also cleverly highlights some of the heritage artefacts that aren’t normally centre stage but Love Big Books brings to the public’s attention our resource of Fifth Sized books.”

Jane Tarr, Director North, Arts Council England, said: “This is a really exciting partnership project with Newcastle City Council that we’re delighted to support through our National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme. It shows an innovative and very inspirational way that artists can adapt their creative practice and work in a library space. Steve Messam’s art installation, and indeed the forthcoming Love Big Books exhibition of which it is part, will give existing library users the opportunity to rediscover aspects of the building and its collection and will also draw in new visitors to the library.”

Love Big Books is a free exhibition that takes place between 2nd – 17th November at Newcastle’s City Library (33 New Bridge Street, NE1 8AX)

For further information about the Fifth Sized Books (Love Big Books) project please follow the exhibition on Twitter @FifthSizeBooks

For further information about the work of artist Steve Messam please visit www.stevemessam.co.uk

Also for further information about the work of Newcastle Libraries please visit www.newcastle.gov.uk/leisure-libraries-and-tourism