The BookWallah

Pop-up Library for a Literary Festival

The portable, pop-up library and the concept of ‘wallah’ as an itinerant provider of a specific service were conceived by Varadarajan. Together with Georgia Hutchinson, the suitcases were designed as part library, part art installation where visitors could browse, sit and read. The bookcases were constructed using digital fabrication, which were then covered with kangaroo leather so that it would easily degrade and pick up signs of travelling. This project extends Varadarajan’s interest in design projects as ‘campaigns’ within specific cultural and social communities, situated more broadly within a creative practice that seeks to re-imagine mass-produced materiality.

The Bookwallah is a project in the form of a ‘travelling library’. Six Indian and Australian writers travelled by train to various literary festivals across India in search of stories and connections. They carried with them custom-made suitcases that opened and transformed into bookcases, filled with hundreds of new Australian books.

Bookwallah was exhibited at the Cowen Gallery at the State Library of Victoria in 2013. It travelled to literary festivals in Mumbai and Bangalore, as well as Goa, Chennai and Pondicherry. It also travelled to Writers’ Festivals in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The project was initiated by AsiaLink – Australia’s leading centre for the promotion of public understanding of the countries of Asia and of Australia’s role in the region. It received extensive reviews in: The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, The Monthly, and news outlets in India.

  • Featured Images
  • Credits: Nicholas Alan Low, Asia Link Project Lead
  • Year 2012-2013
  • Agency-industry: Asia Link, Melbourne
  • Acknowledgement: Georgia Hutchinson, Rob Sowter