Tuesday, 11 September 2012


 There are not many books where I look forward to their release date but I always check the shelves of Waterstones to see if any new translation of Tove Jansson's has been published. She is one of my favourite written-word companions and I miss her original and homely voice between books. In my virtual book world of teachers and she is one of the most important, alongside Ruskin and Proust.

 'Art in Nature' is a collection of short stories. originally titled 'Dollhouse' in Swedish. 'Art in Nature' proposes a simple idea. Why not pin a parcel to your wall instead of a painting? Then the mystery of the contents and your imagination can be the work of art.

 A caretaker of a summer exhibition stubbles across a middle-aged couple who are unwittingly trespassing in the grounds of his gallery, grilling sausages by the lake. They are quarrelling over a parcel. Inside is a silk-screen they have just bought but they cannot agree whether it is abstract or not, and if it is, what the subject might be. The caretaker having spent many hours contemplating the exhibition suddenly recalls some conceptual art - picture packages also displayed in the exhibition. He suggests that neither will be disappointed with their purchase if they hang it still fully wrapped onto their wall.

'Maybe you should just imagine what's inside, and then imagine different things...You just need to make the wrapping a little prettier, use more string, you know, fishing line or shoemaker's thread...It's the mystery that's important, somehow very important.'

 Part of the mystery must be that someone else has done the wrapping I feel. Here I have left three items still in their wrappers. Perhaps I will be brave enough to resist opening wrapped art if it comes my way and hang it as it is on our walls.

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