Katie Paterson – Future Library

Posted on January 22, 2015 | in Arts, Collections, Featured, Library, Library, Library & University Collections | by

Neil Lebeter, Art Curator, writes about how a forest in Norway and a new library collection in 2114 are linked

Future Library Tree

Future Library Tree.

We are very, very excited to announce that the University has acquired, or should I say will be acquiring, Future Library by Scottish artist Katie Paterson.

Future Library is an incredibly ambitious art work that currently takes the form of a single print and also a forest in Norway. Let me explain.

Katie, who graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2004, was gifted an area of forest in Norway, where trees have been planted. These will supply paper for a collection of books that will be printed in 100 years time. Between now and then, one writer every year will commissioned to write a text – Margaret Atwood was announced as the first author last year. The manuscripts will be held in trust, unpublished, until 2114.

The texts will be held in a specially designed room in the New Public Deichmanske Library, Oslo and a Trust has been set up to care for the project and the forest itself.

Until 2114 rolls round, we will have a very lovely print that Katie has just completed, pictured above. Having heard Katie speak about this work first hand, the aspect of this that has really stuck in my mind is the notion of time. For us, 100 years is tantalisingly just out of reach – it is unlikely that the majority of us will be alive when these books are published. 100 years, therefore, may as well be a 1,000 or 100,000 in terms of our perception. However, in the life of the forest, 100 years is nothing. A blink of an eye.

So, in 2114 – 100 specially commissioned, beautifully printed books will arrive at the University of Edinburgh. For a Curator – this is one of the most unusual things I have ever considered.

I’d best leave a note to warn people.


Neil Lebeter, Art Curator.


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