Jane Austen, one of the most famous novelists in the world, lived in Steventon near Basingstoke for more than half of her life and, as a result, the local places, people and landscapes had a huge influence on her and her novels. Sitting with Jane is a unique public art trail made up of 24 ‘BookBenches’ to celebrate Jane Austen’s connections with Basingstoke and forms part of a global commemoration of her life in 2017, the 200thanniversary of her death.
Each bench has been uniquely designed and painted by a professional artist interpreting different Jane Austen themes, and Festival Place will be hosting several of the benches within the shopping centre which can be explored as part of the trail via a free trail guide and free to download app available for Apple and Android from 12th June 2017. There will also be two benches sponsored by Festival Place elsewhere on the trail, one outside the church in Steventon and one outside Milestones museum. Those who unlock the benches within the app using the numerical code found on the bench will receive rewards such as a free burrito at Festival Street Kitchen and the chance to win a £250 Festival Place gift card!
In addition, during the half term week from 25th May until 2nd June, Festival Place will be showcasing 10 school benches and will be welcoming teacher and student representatives in centre to kick things off, with each child and their school receiving a children’s copy of a Jane Austen book. There will also be a designated reading area during the summer holidays with regular readings planned throughout the month, plus a children’s writing competition with the chance for the winner to see their story in print and receive a £100 Waterstones voucher.
After September the benches will all be auctioned off in aid of the campaign’s charity partner, Ark Cancer Centre Charity to leave a valuable lasting legacy in the region.
To find out more about the Sitting with Jane project and the artists involved visit www.sittingwithjane.com and to stay up to date with all the latest news and events at Festival Place visit www.festivalplace.co.uk or find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.