Once you have filled your premium notebook with notes, ideas or sketches, what do you do with it? If you’re anything like us, then you’ll find it hard to part with what has been a handy companion for weeks or months, especially if it has a beautifully sleek branded cover. Recycling books is a great idea and if you want to hang onto those precious notebooks but don’t know what to do with them, then how about this for inspiration…

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Folkestone Fringe presents Shelf Life, a collaboration between artist Thurle Wright and Marrin’s Bookshop, with all the pieces in the exhibition having been created from books found in the bookshop. International artist Thurle Wright lives and works in Folkestone and is known for her art that transforms ‘pages from books, atlases, dictionaries and newspapers into small, fragile units and reconstructs them into structures and patterns, creating entirely new meanings’.

The intricate paper artworks on show in Marrin’s Bookshop are dotted around the store just waiting to be found – not only on the shelves and amongst the books, but, with a piece called ‘The Collection’, on the ceiling too! The piece is made up of images of moths, some of which are found locally, cut from a natural history reference book. You can view the book itself – sat atop a pile of books stacked beneath the artwork – and see just how carefully and painstakingly the moths have been cut out, creating a little artwork in itself. The paper moths have been stuck to the ceiling, forming a colourful and eye-catching display above your head.

moths - the collections

The ‘Apothecary’s Tale (Caution)’ shows two apothecary jars nestled between the books inside a glass display cabinet. Each jar is filled with the shredded text of a short story called, ‘The Folkestone Leech’, from the Ingoldsby Legends. The story features a ‘notorious apothecary on the harbour side in Folkestone who makes a lethal potion for a woman who wished to kill her husband’. Other pieces include ‘Souvenir’, with extracts from the 1949 Guide Bleu to Paris and old postcards from the Louvre, and ‘Fortune’ which includes extracts from H.G Wells’ locally based story ‘Kipps’ which charts a young man’s fall from fortune, ending with his happy retirement to run – appropriately enough – a bookshop. Each artwork in the bookshop illustrates how the old can be used to make the new in an impressive example of artistic recycling.

Another wonderful and inventive piece on show inside the bookshop is a wisened old man’s face, complete with a pipe, all made from old books and set into the face of a grandfather clock. While not part of the Shelf Life exhibition itself – having been created by one of the bookshop’s proprietors – the piece shows how art can make use of old books, turning them into something quite striking and memorable.

Book face

Marrin’s Bookshop has been established on Sandgate Road, Folkestone for over half a century. It’s a wonderfully quaint place, and a rare find in an increasingly internet-based book world. Marrin’s Bookshop certainly is a treasure trove with its narrow, winding corridors and rooms that are lined with beautifully bound old books from floor to ceiling, with even more books and other curiosities piled on the floor and crammed in nooks and crannies – it is a book lovers dream in Dickensian proportions! And with Thurle Wright’s exquisite and delicate artworks waiting to be discovered around every corner, the Shelf Life exhibition is a little touch of fairy tale magic on the high street.

Shelf Life is running alongside Folkestone Triennial. The exhibition will continue to evolve until it ends at the beginning of Folkestone Book Festival, which runs from 14 to 23 November.

Shelf Life is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11am to 5pm until 15th November.