If you happen to be in or around Teignmouth keep an eye out for beautifully painted pebbles. In tree hollows, on walls, in gutters, on groynes. If you find one, check the back and if it says spymass.com, you can keep it. We have two. Now, everytime I set foot outside, I am on the look-out. And in looking, I see stuff I wouldn’t usually see. Which is a good thing for me as a writer. I’m noticing tiny details in the environment where I live and work.
I emailed Bryan Robinson, the artist of the pebbles who leaves them for people to find. He said he’s spoken to one person who has collected 50, so we have a long way to go to catch up. A lot of looking. Bryan exhibits his pebbles and his paintings in a gallery in Teignmouth and this is one way to get his work seen so that it will encourage visitors to the gallery.
But this goes further than advertising. It really touched me to find these small pieces of art. A kind of public art but that is at the same time very private. Our stones now live on the bookshelves in our study. But there are more out there waiting to be found to make their way into someone else’s home.
This concept reminded me of the phenomenom of leaving books in public places for others to find. Over the last decade or so people over the world have left books on benches, in phone boxes etc. Some are officially registered with bookcrossing.com and this way you can track the journey of your book and see how many other people have enjoyed it. You can also do book reviews. Book sharing has been a real success in Buenos Aires where they are keen to promote reading and literature. On the flyleaf of one novel was the hand-written inscription: “This book has not been lost. It has no owner; it is part of the Argentine Free Book Movement, and it was left in this place so that you would find it.”
And the concept has moved to sharing the Bible as part of the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the St James.
And Christians will be encouraged to take their Bibles from their bookshelves and get them out there for new people to engage with this old book in a fresh way.
And flash mob singing – who can forget the Hallelujah Chorus in the shopping centre?
And Banksy, of course.
It seems we have a hunger to share our creativity with the world and I for one am all for it. OK, so writers might not get the royalties for the books being shared, but then their books will be reaching new readers, readers who might go on to buy the book for themselves or other books by the same author.
There’s something magical about doing things for others that will surprise and please them – like the Elves and the Shoemaker – one of my favouite ever fairy tales.
Share something good today.