Book Art and Video by Cecilia Levy

(Click here for an audio version of the post that follows…)

What do books mean to you? For me, the sight of pages bound together conjures adventure, romance, learning and joy. A book suggests what a heaven-on-earth it would be to occupy the most epic reading room ever! In such a place, librarians would work to honor the greatness of fiction (like my soon-to-be-published “Flamenco and the Sitting Cat” novel), as well as non-fiction. Once published, every book in that magnificent reading place would live forever.

Artist Cecilia Levy resides in the small Swedish village of Sigtuna, between Stockholm and the university town of Uppsala. Her art ensures printed pages are neither discarded nor forgotten. In her hands, they are reincarnated, afforded three-dimensional lives as exciting as their first ones!…

Cecilia Levy, artist, working in her studio, Ateljéföreningen Hospitalet in Uppsala, 2019. Photographer: Stewen Quigley.
Cecilia Levy, artist, working in her studio, Ateljéföreningen Hospitalet in Uppsala, 2019. Photographer: Stewen Quigley.

“Paper Art” by Cecilia Levy

I am Cecilia Levy and I create sculptural objects in paper, using old book pages, wheat starch paste, and papier maché technique.

My work is exhibited internationally and is included in private and permanent collections, including the Swedish National Museum.

In 2017, my public art commission, “In Fusion –- Contemplation Pieces,” was installed in the main entrance to Stockholm’s New Karolinska University Hospital, NKS, twenty plinths displaying over twenty-five of my unique paper sculptures.

My home is in Sigtuna, my studio is at Ateljéföreningen Hospitalet in Uppsala, and I’m a member of Konsthantverkarna in Stockholm, where my pieces are sold.

"Companion," teacup and strainer, 2018.
“Companion,” teacup and strainer, 2018.

I have a background in graphic design and bookbinding, and paper has always been my medium. I make sculptural objects in paper, using book pages. I only use old books, up until the 1960s. They have the paper quality, layout, and typography that I appreciate.

"Longing," mocha set, 2020.
“Longing,” mocha set, 2020.

Old book paper is a fragile and delicate material. It carries several narratives at the same time, both in content and regarding the passage of time. My works reflect this, the fragility of life. The pieces reflect my personal stories and memories.

For instance, my a mocha set, called “Longing,” is a replica of a set given as an engagement gift from my grandfather to my grandmother…

"Chapter One," thistle, 2015.
“Chapter One,” thistle, 2015.

Visible traces from the passage of time, marks from previous owners and readers, paper quality, color and typography, holes in the binding, wrinkles and dog ears, olden expressions and spelling, and the (sometimes) odd content. All of these are characteristics I value and are what determine my choice of working material. Every single piece of paper is chosen with care.

My different pieces represent different sides of me. I often use everyday objects, those found at home, or in thrift shops. These Hobo Boots are special to me. They are appealing to the eye. They were fun and pleasing to make, yet they also have a serious underlying message about homelessness and poverty…

"Hobo – Homeward Bound," boots, 2012.
“Hobo – Homeward Bound,” boots, 2012.

My 2017 public art commission, “In Fusion – Contemplation Pieces,” was installed in the main entrance of Stockholm’s New Karolinska University Hospital, NKS. In all, twenty plinths held over twenty-five unique paper sculptures. I was inspired by folk medicine, especially plants and herbs that can be used for infusions, in other words, herbal teas…

"Coltsfoot and Artichoke," medicinal plants for a public commission, 2017. Photographer: Alvaro Campo.
“Coltsfoot and Artichoke,” medicinal plants for a public commission, 2017. Photographer: Alvaro Campo.

The title of the commission is a play on words that indicates a fusion between art and folk medicine. “Contemplation” is used, in a sense, to look at/be aware of/be exposed to. It’s an essential term within philosophy and theology. People coming to a hospital are often anxious and worried. My hope is for visitors to halt for a while, and to let their minds wander.

Here’s a video of Cecilia at work.

What do books mean to you?…