Copies of George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-4 have been arriving at an artist’s studio in Edinburgh for months. Each form and dimension, posted from Ukraine, Hong Kong, Peru, Germany, Cape Cod and Sarajevo.

Some are in mint situation, others are dog-eared, tea-stained, closely annotated or became graffitied artwork works. One is a water-stained first version; one is a secret love letter from a married girl to her old flame; one other, a graphic novel model, got here from Orwell’s son Richard Blair.

Every has been donated to a novel set up locally corridor of Jura, the Hebridean island the place Orwell, in dire poverty and desperately unwell, wrote Nineteen Eighty-4 throughout the late Nineteen Forties, to mark its publication 75 years in the past.

Hans Ok Clausen, a sculptor primarily based in Edinburgh, is gathering 1,984 copies of the ebook to exhibit on Jura for 3 days in early June. It will likely be an interactive, “residing” sculpture the place guests are invited to open and browse each quantity.

Many have arrived, usually with abroad postmarks and customs stamps, addressed to “Winston Smith, care of Hans Ok Clausen”.

“I don’t see my artwork venture as political,” Clausen mentioned. “It has politics woven via it, however it additionally has a love story woven via it, so I’m excited about Nineteen Eighty-4 the novel; I’m excited about all of the layers,” he mentioned.

“Typically folks overlook the romance and the love, and this man looking for his personal humanity. It will get misplaced within the Huge Brother-ness of all of it. So in some methods, I’m attempting to be the neutral, impartial artist inviting folks to take from it what they may.”

One correspondent, a married girl who referred to as herself Julia, after the hero Winston’s lover, despatched in her private copy as a memorial to her old flame, a person additionally married to another person, her Winston.

Clausen mentioned his set up, the Winston Smith Library of Victory and Fact, is designed to be “a monument [to] the defiance of the printed phrase”. He’s nonetheless taking donations and is about 100 volumes wanting the goal. In return every donor receives an enamelled pin-badge as a gesture of thanks.

Clausen desires guests to understand the materiality of every quantity: the Russian copy printed on coarse paper; the impeccably printed Japanese version; the hand-cut Canadian quantity on thick paper; the musty odour and yellowing edges of the oldest copies; the extraordinary annotations and highlighting in others, and the inexpert repairs with sticky tape to those with battered spines.

In his small studio at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, a quantity from Ukraine sits alongside one other from Russia; one in Arabic leans on one other in Hebrew; there are Chinese language editions in Cantonese and Mandarin. One other got here in from the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, which bore the brunt of Serbia’s ethno-nationalist battle 30 years in the past.

Audiobooks will probably be broadcast over two wide-mouthed loudspeakers, harking back to the audio system that indoctrinated the residents of Airstrip One. {Photograph}: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Clausen has labored with secondary faculty pupils in Edinburgh, London and on Jura itself, with pupils who stay there however go to high school on neighbouring Islay, who’ve customised copies utilizing paint, scalpels and pens. A trainer and sculptor at Cape Cod neighborhood faculty in Massachusetts minimize an intricate Huge Brother paintings into his.

The set up contains audiobooks on cassette and movies on DVD. The audiobooks will probably be broadcast over two wide-mouthed loudspeakers harking back to the omnipresent audio system that indoctrinated the residents of Airstrip One.

Guests to Jura will discover a desk with a Nineteen Forties typewriter and a paperweight, in reference to the thing Winston purchased within the vintage store above which he and Julia performed their illicit affair. The store itself was a entrance for the thought police.

Clausen, who’s self-financing the venture after being turned down for funding, hopes the sculpture will tour. The Orwell Basis, set-up to advertise brave writing and primarily based at College School London, has expressed curiosity.

“Once I get residence from Jura, that’s my bank card maxed out,” he mentioned. “It does should be seen. I really feel prefer it’s a dedication, that this must go someplace.”

The venture has the blessing of the Orwell Society, a bunch arrange below Richard Blair’s patronage in 2011 to advertise his work. Quentin Kopp, the society’s chairman, whose father, George, was Orwell’s commander within the Spanish civil battle, mentioned they hung out speaking to Clausen.

“We glad ourselves this was a really real initiative,” Kopp mentioned. Kopp is among the many donors, giving Clausen an early copy of Penguin’s paperback editions from the Nineteen Sixties.

“This ebook has a transparent fashionable resonance with many issues which might be occurring. It’s staggering how prescient Orwell was.”


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