A sale of 50 “book benches” designed to illustrate classics of London literature raised £251,500 at auction. Most of the money will go to the National Literacy Trust.
The 50 brightly coloured benches were laid out in a series of walking trails throughout London over the summer, as part of the Books about Town project, a collaboration between public art impresarios Wild in Art and the National Literacy Trust. They aimed to celebrate London’s literary history while raising money for the NLT’s work to improve literacy in the UK.
The Jeeves and Wooster bench by Gordon Allum commanded the top price of £9,500; James Bond bench, painted by Freyja Dean, and War Horse bench, painted by Gerard Strong from illustrations by the National Theatre stage designer Rae Smith, took £9,000 each. Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere designed by Chris Riddell, made £5,000.
Children’s laureate Malorie Blackman spoke at the auction of the importance of the National Literacy Trust’s work in raising literacy levels- “A recent report indicated that one child in three does not own a book. Seven years ago that figure was one in 10. The situation has actually got worse, not better. And a recent report highlighted the fact that 40% of our poorest children leave school at age 11 unable to read to a reasonable standard.”