Location Travelling exhibition - Venice, Dresden, London
Start on site April 2019
Completion date January 2021
Area 28 sqm

The library of exile; an installation by British artist and writer, Edmund de Waal, housing more than 2,000 books in translation, written by exiled authors.

Edmund de Waal CBE, 2021

"....the design and realisation of my Library of Exile for the Venice Biennale 2019 was an extraordinary feat as the Library had to be created in London, shipped to Venice, and subsequently re-erected in Dresden and then again in the British Museum.

Whittaker Parsons have an iterative way of researching and thinking that is very positive. They are a remarkable practice.”

Photography: Gagosian
Fabrication: Edmund de Waal studio

A collaboration, to design a timber temporary pavilion, designed specifically for installation in historic venues with tight access constraints and logistical challenges.

Photography: Gagosian
Fabrication: Edmund de Waal studio

The pavilion was conceived as a ‘space to sit and read and be’, to reflect on what it means to have to relocate countries and cultures. Internally, the white walls are lined with elegant floating timber shelves punctuated by a quartet of de Waal’s vitrines, psalm, I-IV (2019).

Externally the pavilion is lined with ply panels finished with a porcelain slip with Edmund’s graphite inscription of the world’s great lost libraries. These panels were not only proportioned in response to the historic interiors ratios but also to travel well.

Photography: Gagosian
Fabrication: Edmund de Waal studio

The pavilion was designed for ease of assembly as a series of prefabricated s/w timber cassettes, each dimensioned to fit of on a Venetian barge.  Once the exhibition series was complete, the pavilion was dismantled, recycled and reused. De Waal donated the books to the University of Mosul, Iraq.