The above title is my translation of the name of a little leaflet I picked up in Chur Station on Sunday. In German it’s “Lesegenuss in Grünen – offentliche Lesebänke in Chur”. Anything with “reading” in the heading is bound to catch my eye. So today, when the work was done I made myself a cheese salad sandwich and headed off on the train again into Chur to find out more …
In addition to the Lesebank-Project leaflet I’d picked up a handy folded map of the city. The nearest Lesebank to Chur Station is in Friedhof Daleu. A Friedhof is a cemetery. Never mind. It turned out to be a lovely quiet shady garden with benches and chairs and I soon spotted the (empty) Lesebank on one of the main avenues.
Inside the box is a selection of books – possibly about 30 – fiction and non-fiction, for children and adults, with a contents list and a ‘visitors’ book for comments. The Lesebank is the joint project of the Bündner Volksbibliothek and the Kantonsbibliothek. Two local public libraries but I’m not too sure what the difference between them is. There are 6 of these Reading Benches throughout the city.
I wasn’t about to start reading a novel in German as the person before me had (Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse) so I picked a small book called “The loveliest gardens and parks in Switzerland” to study whilst picnicking. I made a note of two gardens – both also cemeteries – in the Graubünden Canton.
Chur has several bookshops – all of which stocked at least a shelf or two of English language books – but nothing that I hadn’t either read already or fancied the look of.
From the reading bench I went in search of the birthplace [57 Reichsgasse] of the painter and founder member of our Royal Academy Angelica Kauffman. Although born in Chur she travelled in Switzerland and Italy with her father who was also an artist and to London at the age of 25. She was a close friend of Sir Joshua Reynolds. The ground floor of her former home is now a cafe and there is a little hanging shelf unit where a few cards and books and the cafe drinks list are displayed.
Here you can see a slideshow of Kauffman’s paintings – many of which are portraits – owned by public galleries throughout the UK including some National Trust properties. The Artist Hesitating Between the Arts of Music and Painting, 1791 or 1794, [below] was acquired with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2002 for Nostell Priory, in West Yorkshire.