Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Paper flowers

A lot of the book recommendations I have given here were posted while I was still reading the book in question, and now I am doing it again, and I am only a few pages in! But I can safely say that I will not change my mind about this book, and in fact all the other books I wrote about in this space remain firmly among my favourites.

This book caught my eye in the IMMA bookshop (I was there with a friend to see the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibition). I think I would have bought it on account of the subtitle alone:

book with glass artwork made by a friend

Yes, that's 72. There's hope for all of us. I regularly get into a state of panic worrying that I have wasted most of my twenties and could have been more productive, so this is like balm on my wounded soul ego.
One of the blurbs on the back states that The Paper Garden "both analyses and exemplifies that obsessional, mesmerised state induced in artists and crafts people through concentration and close observation", a state Mihály Csíkszenmihályi coined "flow", a concept I am very interested in.

Mary Delany was an 18th century woman who at the age of 72 invented a new art form, the mixed-media collage. She went on to create almost 1,000 detailed cut-paper flowers, which are now in the British Museum.
This book is an artwork in itself, beautifully designed, heavy and with lots of illustrations. Peacock has put herself and the parallels in her own life into Delany's story, and her writing is lyrical and mesmerising. The only reason I haven't read more of it yet is that I have been very busy and am only getting reading time in bed before I go to sleep, and no matter how good the book, my body just refuses to stay awake for much longer once I'm in there.

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