Thoughts wander all over the place, especially in the quiet of the night. As I listened to the night noises, I pondered a chair I had finished that afternoon – I had expected to be pleased, maybe even a little satisfied – but I was neither – I was deflated. Oh! It was nice enough, easy on the eye, a little unusual, sturdy, comfortable, possibly verging on the elegant – certainly it would make a satisfactory coat hanger – but, it wasn’t right.
My mind wandered back to my trip to Leitrim last week – the highlight of which was sitting in a cold, damp kitchen at 7am, with a stranger I’d just met, drinking fresh brewed coffee and waffling about art for two and a half hours – nothing highbrow, intellectual, deep or knowledgeable, just bouncing ideas and thoughts, laughing and nodding in appreciation at the honesty with which we both admitted to the dissatisfaction we felt when we completed something.
We ended by acknowledging that art was unfathomable, to us at least, and could be manifest in many ways, in many things, by anyone. Neither of us were artists – we just make stuff!
I returned to the chair – it was Ash – The Tree of Life. Indeed, trees give so much. I moved in my mind to “The Giving Tree,” a classic children’s book by Shel Silverstein. And then, to “The Night Life Of Trees,” a beautiful book created in India, each page printed by hand, the paper made by hand, and all bound by hand. A thing of beauty, to touch, and cast an eye over – a labour of love, pure and simple – no ulterior motive – no franchise – no sequel – no licensing for lunch boxes or tee-shirts, wall posters, or TV rights. Art? I think so.
The same day I found “The Night Life of Trees,” I discovered a bookshop that was a glass sea of beautiful illustrations, rich colours, and thick, soft pages. There were no ‘Sale’ signs in the window – no ‘Buy 2 for 1’ signs – no latest must have corporate character offering happiness and fun. Just beautiful books, lovingly illustrated, beautifully bound and presented – treasures to take up and explore – friends waiting to go on a life long journey with you, if you just pick them up.
Inside, I found such a book. I picked it up, started to read, and fell in love – no mean feat, considering it was in Italian, and I don’t speak or read Italian – But, the illustrations!!
As I lay listening to the night noises I thought of this book – “Duck, Death and the Tulip,” by Wolf Erlbruch. A work of quite staggering beauty.
I do not know how to define Art, what it is that makes a person an Artist, or what drives someone to want to be an Artist. But, I can point at what I believe is Art, and acknowledge those whom I believe to be Artists.
Wolf Erlbruch is an Artist, and, “Duck, Death and the Tulip” is undoubtedly a masterpiece. His art made manifest by the giving tree, from which the paper was made, and the pencils and charcoal created.
Jorge Sandoval made a beautiful video interpretation of the book, which I discovered this morning, just as the dawn chorus broke and the night came to an end.