Drawing on city’s literary skills (+ video)

Urban Dream broker Tamsin Cooper (left) with The Big Wee Book designers Malcolm Hayes (centre)...
Urban Dream broker Tamsin Cooper (left) with The Big Wee Book designers Malcolm Hayes (centre) and Leon Nimmo. Photo by Steven Jaquiery.

The first project in a series expected to fill empty shops and bring life to dormant city spaces will draw on Dunedin's literary skills to achieve its aims.

Two University of Otago design students yesterday opened The Big Wee Book of Dunedin at 187 George St as part of the Urban Dream Brokerage project.

The project was brought to Dunedin in September by Wellington not-for-profit Letting Space, which developed a project in Wellington introducing art, music and literature projects in underused CBD sites.

The Dunedin City Council allocated $50,000 of funding, and Dunedin fashion designer Tamsin Cooper was taken on as a "broker'' to communicate with building owners and artists to put the project into action.

The Big Wee Book project is the work of design graduate Leon Nimmo and design student Malcolm Hayes, both of whom have also studied marketing.

The pair were bursting with ideas and finishing one-another's sentences yesterday as they opened the space to the public.

Mr Nimmo said: "What we're doing is trying to create a community book of Dunedin through literature from the community.

"The idea is to produce one big book that encapsulates 2015, the Dunedin feel.''

The public were invited to provide everything from poems to lyrics, short stories and artworks to the project.

"It's an incredibly collaborative place where people can come in,'' Mr Hayes said.

"They can bring in their own work, or use this space here to put something down on paper."

The project provided computers, crayons, pens and pencils.

"They might have an idea, and they can really use this to have a better definition or visualisation of what they're trying to say.''

That would all go towards The Big Wee Book of Dunedin.

While everybody's work would go up in-store or online, the pair would go through them and find the best pieces of work to go into the big book, which they would help design.

The project would also collaborate with published and unpublished authors to create The Wee Book, small artisan-style books.

"So this is a different way of publishing - a lot of people find it hard to get a book published.

"This way they get a beautiful, tangible hand-crafted book created with a designer,'' Mr Hayes said.

Ms Cooper said there had been plenty of submissions for projects.

Two more had been approved, with one expected to open in January, and the other in February.

"They're very, very different from this literary-based project,'' Ms Cooper said.

She hinted they were also interactive, but not necessarily arts-based.

"I think it's very exciting.

"I think people will see Dunedin in a different way.''

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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