Is there an eagle in this class?

A beckoning space just outside Trinity College’s library prompted an invitation from librarian Su to bring something to the walls. Since I’m a library fan, having worked in my share of Bristol libraries and been a student in most of them too, it had to be book related.

But there are books, and then there is the Book. The Book surely creates this College, a ‘people of the Book’ in microcosm. Even when much of the work that happens around here starts from reading other books about this Book, it’s this Book that has the centrifugal force of something that goes beyond reading. So if I was going to get visual about it, I had to land on that emblem of the pulpit, the eagle, the winged spoken word.

The living nature of this word is easily characterised in the soaring flight of the eagle, its lifting power and glorious freedom – elsewhere in my work on bird imagery in the Bible, I created a partner image along these lines. But a verse in Deuteronomy reveals that there’s an aspect of it that stays close to the young readers, those wanting to learn to fly. An aspect which ‘stirs up the nest’ (Deut 32:11). This seems to me to be a different sort of living word, one which does the studying rather than being studied. A fitting image for a library wall?

Header image: Hope’s Promise II, 2008 (installation at Trinity College, 2014), by Sheona Beaumont.

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