BookBench_Ranskill Primary School-021b8a09

North Notts BookBench trail returns this summer

Schools across North Nottinghamshire are getting ready to showcase their creative talents to the region – as they add the finishing touches to their North Notts Journeys 'BookBenches’ ahead of the sculpture trail launch this summer.

The ‘BookBench’ sculpture trail, which has been organised by North Notts BID in collaboration with Wild in Art, a leading producer of spectacular public art events, will see 40 uniquely designed benches put on display across Worksop, Retford, Harworth and Tuxford for residents to find using a soon-to-be-released trail map.

Launching on Friday 18 June, the trail will run for eight weeks throughout the summer and feature colourful designs that celebrate the area’s rich literary history and the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower crossing, as well as promoting a life-long love of reading.

Sally Gillborn, chief executive of North Notts BID, said: “We are delighted to be launching the ‘BookBench’ sculpture trail across North Nottinghamshire this summer. After it was postponed last year due to Covid-19, we are excited that the public will finally be able to see the tremendous creative efforts made by local students and artists to form this captivating trail.

“When finalising the concept with Wild in Art, we thought it was important that the trail tapped into the region’s unique heritage with several of the ‘BookBench’ designs inspired by the Mayflower crossing - telling the story of its past, present and future significance. However, we have also included more modern journeys, such as a heart-warming tribute to NHS key workers who have worked tirelessly to overcome the challenges of past year.”

Due to the impact of the pandemic, many of the ‘BookBenches’ have been strategically placed in town centres to help drive footfall towards the high street in a bid to boost custom for local businesses.

Sally continued: “As lockdown restrictions start to ease over the coming months, we hope this free activity will persuade families to get outside, stay local and create their own adventures - exploring parts of North Nottinghamshire they may have never visited before. We also want to encourage people to share their experiences online by posting pictures on social media with the hashtag #NorthNottsJourneys, so we can enjoy the trail together after a year of isolation.”

The end of the trail will be marked by the North Notts Lit Fest, with the benches contributing as a key focal point throughout the festival by hosting readings from well-known authors. Once the trail is over, the benches will be returned to the schools and organisations that designed them to inspire creativity and create a lasting legacy within the community.

Ben Reed, head of creative development at Wild in Art, said: “Following the postponement of the event last year, we are thrilled to be able to share the incredible ‘BookBench’ designs, each one telling a special story inspired by journeys, adventure, freedom and pioneering spirit.

“North Notts Journeys will offer both residents and visitors an opportunity to discover the local area’s cultural and creative offer as part of a safe, fun and free activity while also encouraging them to initiate their own adventures.

“Our thanks to the students, artists, sponsors and North Notts BID who have worked together to bring this special event to North Nottinghamshire, unleashing the power of creativity for all to enjoy.”

The ‘BookBench’ was one of the first sculptures to be designed by Wild in Art’s creative director, Chris Wilkinson. Decorating ‘BookBenches’ with scenes and characters from stories is a great way to inspire children to read more widely, while trails and events around the ‘BookBenches’ take reading out of the classroom into the community and encourage families to talk about and enjoy books.

The trail map will be available to download at from Friday 18 June and printed versions will be available to pick up in shops and cultural institutions around North Nottinghamshire.