UK CULTURE
11/04/2012 13:58 BST | Updated 11/04/2012 14:00 BST

Mike Stilkey Gives Books New Life As Art

Mike Stilkey uses an unusual medium to create his impossibly charming sculptures - books.

Elephants play the piano, peacocks sport school ties and owls keep horses as pets in his dream world, and it all takes place as a story within a story, on the front of a pile of books.

Speaking to the HuffPost UK, he said: “I love the idea that I am layering visual narratives over the written word”.

By doing so, he says, he hopes to create an interesting contrast between the stories within the books and the narrative of the paintings.

He has had a great response to the book sculptures, having been invited to put installations in bookshops and galleries across the US, the largest of which consisted of over 5000 books, at the Rice Gallery at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

He says: “I think part of the appeal is that I reuse books that have been discarded or that are going to be destroyed so I can give them a second life in my art.”

Working with libraries and bookshops, he takes books that would otherwise be thrown away and re-incarnates them as art. He describes his work as drawing on Weimar-era German expressionism

There is nothing sadder than an unwanted book, and it’s lovely that Stilkey is giving them a new lease of life, bringing out the whimsical possibilities of the stories within.

Our only worry is that he painted over some of our favourites.

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