Wolverhampton Arts and Culture and Wolverhampton Library service are looking for volunteers to take part in a community project to coincide with Wolverhampton Literature Festival and British Art Show 9.

Volunteers, in Whitmore Reans, will participate in a work of art that celebrates community and reading with Abigail Reynolds, a contemporary artist from Cornwall, who is one of 47 artists selected for British Art Show 9 (BAS9) touring 2021-22. 

For the project we are looking for readers, who are available at a set time every week, from mid February to mid April, to gather at Whitmore Reans Library to read aloud for a short period of time from a favourite/chosen book. 

All volunteers need is enthusiasm and a passion for reading. Additionally, readers will need to be happy for their voice and hands to be recorded while they read.

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor Stephen Simkins, said: “It is fantastic to see so many partners coming together to create a community project that will have a legacy in the city.

“Libraries are a key component of Wolverhampton’s culture and by including Whitmore Reans Library in this project we are connecting people within the community who have a love for reading. 

“Both the Wolverhampton Literature Festival and British Art Show 9 are exciting events we have taking place in 2021. I am excited to see the work that Abigail Reynolds produces, and I urge everyone to get involved.”

Abigail added: “The library has been a site of interest for me for many years. I’m excited that BAS9 have invited me to work closely with libraries in Wolverhampton to create the work ‘Elliptical Reading’, and I’m delighted that Wolverhampton libraries have risen to the challenge. 

“By ‘Elliptical Reading’ I hope to provoke us all to think about the meaning of a public library. We need to use libraries to their full potential as sites for engagement; both on a global scale in terms of the books they hold, but more importantly to engage with the communities we live in. 

“A library is a shared protected space which is genuinely free for everybody to use. It’s the only place that offers such freedom and permission to all sectors of the population. It is built on mutual trust. We can’t afford to let libraries slip through our fingers through neglect. 

“I feel enormously privileged to work in the hexagonal library in Whitmore Reans. This simple, beautiful library is at the heart of a genuinely diverse community of readers which I hope to celebrate in ‘Elliptical Reading’.”

Councillor Obaida Ahmed, ward councillor for St Peter’s, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the community to get involved and connects art and literature across varied platforms.”

The community project ‘Elliptical Reading’, will be included in research being carried out by Professor Williams at the University of Oxford, who is looking into public reading.

For more information go to the Wolverhampton Literature Festival website and click on ‘volunteer’ to register your interest by Sunday 6 December. Alternatively you can send an audio or video recording, telling us about your chosen book and why you have selected it, to Georgina.cheung@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Throughout the project Wolverhampton Arts and Culture and the Library service will ensure the safety of participants and staff and follow Government guidance on social distancing measures.