On the look-out for a last-minute gift? Or for something to buy, borrow or peruse?
Here are five books that link art, Cambridge and beautiful design.
1. Yiting Lee, The Alley
The Alley, by Yiting Lee. An unopenable pop-up book! Watch a video of the book in action.
Yiting Lee is a graduate of the renowned MA in Children's Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art.
When I met the artist at the Mill Road Winter Fair, she told me that her lecturers had at first been skeptical about this project. They told her that this wasn't a proper book as you couldn't open it fully. But that's just what makes this book so mysterious and marvellous. (And there's a twist at the end. Shh.)
Not available in shops but contact the artist if you wish to buy a copy. Her website is here.
2. Kindersley inscriptions
Cutting across Cambridge: Kindersley Inscriptions in the City and University, by Lida Lopes Cardozo Kindersley. Published by Cambridge University Press.
This little book has photos of and information on all of the publicly-accessible Cambridge carvings made by the Kindersley Workshop.
I stumbled across David Kindersley's letter-cutting workshop back in September (I may post about this in future). It's a national institution and the distinctive carved letters can be found throughout Cambridge and beyond.
I found this inscription in the small church graveyard next to the Kindersley Workshop on Victoria Avenue. The cutting is beautiful.
3. Kazuno Kohara, Ghosts in the House!
Kazuno Kohara is another graduate of the MA in Children's Book Illustration. Her book Ghosts in the House! was the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2008. Published by Macmillan.
I love these whimsical ghosts, the spare use of colour and the vintage look of the lino-cuts.
4. Epic of the Persian Kings
Epic of the Persian Kings: The Art of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, by Barbara Brend and Charles Melville. Published by the Fitzwilliam Museum.
This gorgeous exhibition was at the Fitzwilliam Museum two years ago. The catalogue is beautifully produced.
The catalogue reproduces the exquisite and lavish illustrations done over the centuries for the famous Book of Kings, the Persian epic written by the poet Firdausi in the late 10th / early 11th century. Each full-page illustration is accompanied by a short explanation of the story. There are also some scholary texts at the beginning.
A book that's a joy to browse.
5. Art in Oceania
Art in Oceania, by Nick Thomas (Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge) and Peter Brunt. Published by Thames & Hudson.
A few weeks ago, I went to the book launch of Art in Oceania, held at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. A small but eager crowd stood around with glasses of wine and leafed through copies of this wonderful tome.
Jonathan Lamb, Professor of Humanities at Vanderbilt University, introduced the book. He said that we should not view the ocean between the different islands of the Pacific as a barrier that separated them but as a means of communication and trade that linked them. I found that really interesting.
He also pointed out how radical Art in Oceania is. It contains chapters on prehistoric, pre-colonial and colonial art but also on tourist art, art on T-shirts, the art of tattooing and contemporary art. I find it absolutely fascinating to dip into.
And you can see how lavish the production values are. A very special gift (to yourself or to someone else).
Sixth bonus book:
Cambridge: An Architectural Guide, by Helena Webster and Peter Howard (2000). Out of print but look out for it at second-hand sites! It's a pocket-sized gem of a book that can be your travel companion on physical walks or virtual armchair tours.