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Maggs Bros. Ltd., a prominent London antiquarian book firm, currently has an exhibition on display that links contemporary art with antiquarian materials. After visiting a group exhibit in which artists were invited to create pieces inspired by a British museum, Maggs director Robert Harding had a brilliant idea—why not replicate a similar project at Maggs, allowing artists to create unique pieces inspired by the bookstore's wonderful holdings?

Why not indeed! Sponsored by the Arts Council England, Maggs is pleased to announce Maggs Beneath the Covers, an exhibition that displays twelve artists's creative responses to rare books and manuscripts they encountered in Maggs's vast inventory. This means, of course, that Maggs invited these artists to visit and examine the usually private contents and workings of their business, "an unprecedented opportunity for artists to work with unusual and rare books." The resulting exhibit presents an exploration of "the interface between craft and fine art practice" and also offers the public "a glimpse of previously unseen areas of Maggs's historic Georgian buildings."

Harding said the firm is "very excited" about the exhibition and sees "it as a celebration both of our incredible collections and the creativity it inspires in this amazing group of artists."

The exhibition includes a "food-belt-rope-ladder" inspired by Gulliver's Travels and a sculpture of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning that was recreated from prints of the couple and their letters. For a few photos and a full list of the contributing artists, please visit Maggs's website.

Using antiquarian books and manuscripts as inspiration for contemporary art is a fabulous idea and I hope that we will see more colloborative work like this in the future!

Maggs Beneath the Covers runs until December 21.

Rare manuscripts inspire contemporary art at Maggs beneath the Covers in London