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ILONACAT (WIRRAL, ENGLAND)

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The True and the Questions Journal
The True and the Questions Journal
by Sabrina Ward Harrison
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.91

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a journal that is also a blank book, sort of, 27 Jan. 2006
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Sabrina Ward Harrison is well-known for her art journals. This is a slightly different format. There are journal entries-both visuals and text-but they operate largely as a springboard for your own writing. SWH has provied quotes, lists, bits of poetry, etc. also the backgrounds, most of which are minimalist, and some prompts-you take it from there to make whatever you want : lists, a long entry about what happened today, a memory, whatever.
If you have a fear of the blank page, this book gets round that entirely. If you want some ideas about how to start, or how to continue, the book provides ideas. And it is very good at giving permission to be messy !
While I appreciate the openness and vulnerability expressed in this journal, I do find some of it a bit psychobabbly. This is probably "just" a cultural thing.


Adobe Photoshop Master Class: Maggie Taylor's Landscape of Dreams (Master Class (Adobe))
Adobe Photoshop Master Class: Maggie Taylor's Landscape of Dreams (Master Class (Adobe))
by Amy Standen
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a modern surrealist, 22 Jan. 2006
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Maggie Taylor works almost exclusively with digital imagery. Some purists may object to this; my hunch is that artists in the past may well have made use of it had it been available. It is, after all,just another medium, and it does require skill. This book showcases a large amount of her work.
Maggie Taylor is a surrealist, by which I mean her work is littered with strange human-animal hybrids, eerie effects of light and distortions of perspective. Many of the images are both amusing and unsettling.
The book is a collection of writings by different people on her work, and there is an enlightening interview. In it, she refers to Joseph Cornell as a major influence ; like him, she enjoys picking up odd bits of junk-Victorian tintypes are a favourite-and then working on them in her studio.
I must say that the title "Adobe Photoshop Master Class" is unwieldy and, more importantly, misleading. This book does not give you technical advice about Photoshop. In fact, these words are printed very small on the cover itself but they should really be eliminated altogether.


The Babylonian Tarot
The Babylonian Tarot
by Sandra Tabatha Cicero
Edition: Cards

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good art, lots of mythology, 18 Jan. 2006
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This review is from: The Babylonian Tarot (Cards)
This recently-published Tarot is to be commended on several points.
First, it is written by Sandra Tabatha Cicero, a world-renowned Tarot scholar and one of the few people in the world today who really are steeped in the traditions of the Golden Dawn. If this sounds daunting, don't be daunted-the book is intelligently and clearly-written, not patronizing and not obscure, either.
Second, the art work (also by Cicero), is good. The Majors and Minors are in full (but not gaudy) colour and the Minors are not simply pips-they have the symbol on them (e.g. Six of Cups) but also a small picture at the centre of the card. Personally, I find this much more satisfying than the symbol on its own.
Third, the basis of this Tarot deck is the mythology of the ancient Babylonians, so if you enjoy stories, and gods, and monsters, and so on, this will be a real treasure. I approached the deck knowing little of this pantheon-I'm delighted to be extending my knowledge of mythology AND have an attractive and well-thought out Tarot at the same time.


Collected Poems for Children
Collected Poems for Children
by Ted Hughes
Edition: Hardcover

75 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for children. . ., 13 Dec. 2005
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Too many collections of poetry for children are rather patronizing and rather limited in their scope. My experience is that kids don't just want comic poems and/or poems about bodily functions or slugs. They really don't. Ted Hughes never wrote down to children and was passionate in encouraging poets of all ages. All his children's poetry from the slim volumes is brought together here, "graded" if you like from the poems for younger children to the more sophisticated work in SEASON SONGS. Having said that, a good poem is a good poem is a good poem- these poems are great for adults too. And they are accompanied by lovely images by Raymond Briggs.
I've bought this for my daughter as a Christmas present. She is 7 and a half, very keen on writing poems, also on animals. I believe she'll treasure it always.
If you buy this with THE COLLECTED POEMS OF TED HUGHES, you will have "riches beyond compare" on your bookshelf. At his weakest, he is still interesting-at his best, he is magnificent.


The Fairytale Tarot
The Fairytale Tarot
by Karen Mahony
Edition: Cards

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Tarot, wonderful tales, 12 Nov. 2005
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This review is from: The Fairytale Tarot (Cards)
This Tarot book and card-set were created by the same team-Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov- who created the Tarot of Prague and the Baroque Bohemian Cats Tarot to so much acclaim in the past two years. A third person, Irena Triskova,a Czech artist of some renown, collaborated with them on the project- the artwork does have an indefinably Eastern European feel to it.
However, not all the tales represented on the cards-and retold in the excellent book-are European. There ARE the classics such as "Puss-in-Boots", "Cinderella" and "Hansel and Gretel", but quite a few less well-known tales too. Ukolov's Russian background yields several Russian tales ; there is also a tale from Lithuania. The Hierophant, one of my favourite cards, depicts an Indian sage from an Indian tale. There are also tales from China and the Middle East. But no, this doesn't feel like a shapeless mish-mash. Each tale has been carefully studied and selected for its ability to match a card's more traditional Rider Waite-based interpretion. For this reason, it is possible to do a reading which utilizes both the Rider-Waite meanings and the (possibly several) meanings offered by the tale. I have found this a very effective and enjoyable way of using these cards. They have also stimulated me to go searching once again through the many excellent collections of tales available out there.
As I said, each tale is retold in the excellent book. For this reason, I really wouldn't recommend purchasing the deck on its own. In addition to the retelling, there are sections on interpretation, and a useful bibliography. The eminent Tarot scholar and writer Rachel Pollack has even written a story based on one of the cards.
Need I say that the artwork is second-to-none ? Anyone who has seen the other decks of this talented team would expect that. The colours are vivid but not gaudy.There are echoes a-plenty of Rackham, Dulac and Bilbin. And the borders really are a piece of art in their own right. If you are one of those people who hate borders on Tarot cards, do look at these ones before forming a definitive conclusion ! The cardstock is sturdy without being too thick, the cards are neither too large nor frustratingly small and the finish is matte rather than glossy. In all, the whole thing is a class act which should provide pleasure and inspiration for many years to come.
A note of warning : though many children will doubtless love looking through these cards-and there is nothing here I wouldn't let my 7-year-old daughter see- the deck-and-book are really aimed at a more mature audience than, say, the Inner Child cards which are also structured round fairy tales.


Sylvia Plath. Letters Home 1950-63: Correspondence
Sylvia Plath. Letters Home 1950-63: Correspondence
by Sylvia Plath
Edition: Paperback

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A problematic book, 20 Oct. 2005
I'm not going to deny that reading other people's letters can be very satisfying, especially when the writer of those letters is actually a writer, gifted with words and impassioned with them. That the writer of these letters was Sylvia Plath was obviously its main draw when I read the book. It appears, at face value, to offer us an insight into her life : what better than to read of her experiences in her own words ?
However, it is not as simple as that. The great majority of the letters in LETTERS HOME were written by Plath to her mother, first from Smith College, then from Cambridge in England, then from the various places that Plath lived and wrote in when married to Ted Hughes. The letters, apart from a few at the very end (written in the last few months before her suicide) possess an unrelentingly optimistic tone that borders on the manic. Yes, they are very descriptive. And they appear to be describing an idyllic existence : the writing itself, fascinating people met, the wonderful children, marvellous recipes, superb landscapes. Most of all SUCCESS. Success success success. Plath is clearly writing what her mother wants to hear. Hardly anything negative is mentioned at all ; if it is, it is almost immediately sentimentalized or even retracted. These are letters from a grown-up child still desperate to get approval from her ever-demanding parent. In that sense, they are very sad letters.
The short editorial notes which the late Mrs. Aurelia Plath inserted into the text might also give food for thought to the perceptive reader-she appears to exhibit no insight whatsoever into her daughter's difficulties or her own role in them. Those difficulties, by the way, are referred to very occasionally and obliquely, as if they were a sordid secret of some kind. Or as some utterly baffling and inconvenient phenomenon. Sylvia, it is implied, is "difficult"-all would be well if she only learned to relax more. How she is meant to do that with this vampirical presence in her life is not dwelt on.
If you want to really climb into Sylvia Plath's mind-as much as anyone can ever access the mind of another, that is-I recommend her JOURNALS. The writing there is also excellent, as you would expect, and virtually the same time-frame is covered (1950-1962). And unlike LETTERS HOME,the journals feel real.


True Colors: A Palette of Collaborative Art Journals
True Colors: A Palette of Collaborative Art Journals
by Kathryn Bold
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, 17 Oct. 2005
I acquired this book last year and had not looked at it for a while. I'd forgotten just how good it is. Visually sumptuous, it chronicles a round-robin project in which fifteen American artists contributed to the making of fifteen art journals, each of them based on a colour or combination of colours. Each art journal gets its own chapter-"Green", "Autumn", "Sepia", etc.-and this includes the artists' comments about the process as well as ample illustrations.
Though I have kept journals for years, I have only recently been incorporating art into them. The artists in this volume are for the most part professionals : graphic designers and multi-media artists but don't be daunted by their magnificent creations-instead take heart from the fact many of the materials used can be found inexpensively in your local art store-acrylic paint, crayons, staplers, string, and so on. Junk mail can be used in the making of a wonderful collage. Let your imagination soar.
My current favourites here are the Aqua project-so evocative of the sea and summer holidays of yore-and Sepia-all those vintage photos !


Pieces: A Year in Poems & Quilts
Pieces: A Year in Poems & Quilts
by Anna Grossnickle Hines
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quilts and poems-how could I resist ?, 10 Oct. 2005
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First thing-these poems are written FOR children, not BY children. They concern the seasons of the year, and are matched beautifully with mini art quilts. I would guess that the quilts were made before the poems.The poems are appealing, and could be memorized if wished. The quilts explore the colours and textures of the natural world beautifully. My current favourites are the quilt that depicts falling leaves-the many varied reds and browns are just GORGEOUS-and the design of yellow roses against a snowy background.
As a near-beginner as far as quilting goes, I find this book inspiring. It's just a pleasure leafing through it.


Niki de Saint Phalle: My Art, My Dreams
Niki de Saint Phalle: My Art, My Dreams
by Carla Schulz-Hoffmann
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book about a wonderful artist, 10 Oct. 2005
Art monographs can be rather dry. This isn't one of them. It celebrates the work of Niki de Saint-Phalle in all its variety-the "shootings", the gradually-evolving Tarot Garden, the commissions for the Noah's Ark in Jerusalem, the Stravinsky Fountain in Paris, and so on. The artist herself emerges as a passionate and almost endlessly creative person, never afraid to experiment but never experimenting just to impress..And her use of colour is magnificent.I particularly enjoy the peek into her notebooks and sketchbooks that this book provides.
Ideal as an introduction to an artist who is sadly no longer with us, this book would sit equally happily on the shelf of a devoted fan.


Making Journals by Hand: 20 Creative Projects for Keeping Your Thoughts
Making Journals by Hand: 20 Creative Projects for Keeping Your Thoughts
by Jason Thompson
Edition: Paperback

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "How to" AND lots of inspiration, 10 Oct. 2005
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Some books of this type are inspiring in a general kind of way but don't actually tell you HOW to do wax resist, or whatever.Other books may commit the opposite error-they are SO full of "how to"s, and heat-guns and fusibles and all sorts of things a beginner like me has never heard of, they become disheartening.This book is great because it doesn't presume prior knowledge but explains step-by-step- and without patronizing-various techniques. It is also illustrated. For me,the most inspiring bit of it is looking at pages from other people's diaries. And there are sections on different kinds of dairy, too-art journal, gardening journal, travel record, and so on.


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