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Audience at a My Bookcase event
Image courtesy of Kim O'Neill

Cristina Garriga spent a year at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) as an Erasmus Exchange Student in 2009. She has now made her home in Scotland and is the founder of the My Bookcase project.

Tell us about your time at Edinburgh College of Art

In 2008 I was fortunate to receive an Erasmus scholarship to undertake a one-year exchange course at ECA. I attended the Masters course in Architecture and the Arts.

As a student from a traditional architecture school, becoming part of the creative community of ECA made a big impact on me and my practice. There I learnt that encounters between both disciplines of my interest and passion, art and architecture, were possible.

Tell us about your creative practice

Trained as both an architect and an artist, my practice expands the conventions of art, architecture, and technology to envision alternate ways of being and inhabiting the world. My current work lies in the dynamics of social encounters in built space. Increasingly, the library - where encounters happen through the medium of the book - has become the focus of my research.

In 2014, I started the My Bookcase project, a social enterprise initiating and supporting creative projects that take the book as a source for both research and practice. My Bookcase approaches the book not as a hermetic object, but one that can be deconstructed and explored through art, architecture, design and literature, as well as with communities beyond these fields.

The main project of the organisation is the My Bookcase Platform, a new online service where to catalogue and share the contents of your bookshelves, create reading lists for specific projects, discover new titles by browsing the online collections and connect with fellow readers in your community to borrow books.

My Bookcase actively involves others as both participants and co-creators in the realisation of projects, facilitating a platform through which to analyse the new circumstances that the public library faces as an institution and what this creative investigation can bring to society.

What did you like about your time at ECA?

What I recall as very important from my time at ECA is to suddenly be surrounded by a community of like-minded creative people with whom to share my interests. All students were supported by the Architecture and the Arts tutors, who really encouraged us to go out of the architecture boundaries in order to discover new ways of doing things. It was fun and fresh, and I guess Edinburgh as a city was the perfect playground for us.

Tell us about your experiences since leaving ECA

ECA was my first contact with Scotland; a connection that continued long afterwards. After graduating as an architect in Spain, in 2012, and after a year of living and working in Berlin, I decided to finally attend art school, and Scotland was the first choice. I enrolled in the Masters course Mlitt in Fine Arts (Sculpture) at GSA.

At GSA I was awarded with the Deutsche Bank Award in Creative Practice for the project My Bookcase. The award allowed me to develop my vision first in the city of Glasgow, and recently across Scotland and beyond.

What have been your biggest achievements since graduating?

I believe that my biggest achievement has been the amazing people I have met through my work at My Bookcase. The project has allowed me to connect with amazing communities such as Glasgow Women’s Library. My Bookcase and Glasgow Women’s Library teamed up to bring the Speaking Volumes project to the biennale Glasgow International 2016.

I have also been very fortunate to connect with those individuals who inspired me and asked team if they would like to guide me through this My Bookcase journey.

Alumni wisdom

One good piece of advice that I was given is: do not be afraid to ask for something. Whatever you feel you need to achieve – go for it.