Mystery book sculptor gifts fresh Riddle

A MYSTERIOUS sculptor whose ornate pieces have left a paper trail around the city’s cultural institutions has struck again.

Una Richardson with the Riddles Court piece. Picture: Scott Louden
Una Richardson with the Riddles Court piece. Picture: Scott Louden

The latest creation by the anonymous artist has been gifted to Riddle’s Court – a Category A-listed building in the Old Town whose 16th-century walls have played host to King James VI and philosopher David Hume.

Staff were delighted to receive a delicate paper replica of the building with a tree spouting out of the top and finished off with birds flying above.

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Una Richardson, director of the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT), said: “It is so incredible.

Una Richardson with the Riddles Court piece. Picture: Scott Louden

“I feel absolutely petrified about keeping it safe as it is so fragile but it is so wonderful that she has given it to us.

“We think it is the most beautiful of all the sculptures.”

This is the latest in a string of surprise artworks donated to booksellers and libraries across Edinburgh since 2011.

The Scottish Poetry Library received the first piece in March 2011, which was a delicate tree standing on a leather-bound book with a broken egg at the bottom.

The National Library of Scotland was next on the list with a paper gramophone sculpted out of the pages of author Ian Rankin’s novel Exit Music.

Sculptures have also been given to Leith Library, the Filmhouse and the National Museum of Scotland.

Riddle’s Court is undergoing a £5.6 million renovation project after the SHBT stepped in to save it from falling into disrepair in 2008.

The Riddle’s Court sculpture will be on public view in the newly revamped building when it opens to the public in 2017.

The charity plans to create a state-of-the-art learning centre inspired by the ethos of influential 19th century thinker Patrick Geddes, as well as a library dedicated to his works.

Ms Richardson said: “It includes the words of Geddes ‘Viviendo Discimus’ – by living we learn in Latin – which appears above the gate at Riddle’s Court.

“It also has three doves which was his emblem, symbolising his philosophy that we learn through sympathy, synergy and synthesis.

“She has incorporates a lot of Geddes’ thoughts into her earlier work so it is fantastic to have one here.

“We don’t know who she is but we came across her through a third party and asked if she would like to support us.”

The charity has raised more than £5m so far for the Patrick Geddes Centre for learning but it still needs £600,000 to meet its final target.

Ms Richardson said: “We are so excited to bring Riddle’s Court back into use as it contains hundreds of years of Scottish history.”

When work begins on the new building in April, the staff hope to find a temporary home for it somewhere else in the Capital.

Anyone who would like to make a donation to the Patrick Geddes Centre for Learning should visit to find out more. Alternatively, you can send a cheque to Riddle’s Court, 322 Lawnmarket, EH1 2PG.