I had a book land in my lap last week, literally. I am amazed at the passing accuracy (and speed) of the local delivery couriers. On receiving a package it is a ballet of knock, sign, pass, catch (possibly) and reversing van hurriedly down my driveway. The whole performance leaves you stunned and wondering what actually happened!!!!!!
I digress...........the book I received last week and have now read, four times I think, is a beautiful summary of an artist's/sculptor's life and work. I had a sneaky suspicion I might get to read it this year as the author is my cousin, currently residing in Australia. We have been back in touch after many years. We were tiny tots on our last encounter and over the past few months I had heard he was writing.
So the book arrived, I had no idea what to expect and know not my cousin's writing style or the artist of subject. The title: Bruno's Art & Sculpture Garden ~ Sculpture & Paintings by Bruno Torfs ~ Written by Andrew Kade.
To my delight the book contains much about two topics dear to me. Sculpture and gardens, and it is simply delicious to look at. On first glance and a skim-read I am reminded of the Renaissance Art text books I insisted on purchasing while at University (one of the reasons I am still paying back the student loan debt!!!). I am drawn to the sculpture photos in particular, and enthralled by the way they appear to emerge from their medium, much like the way Italian Renaissance Sculpture seems to climb from within a block of marble. I'm surprised at this connection, as the environment and style is so different from that of Italian art.
If books about art interest you, you will enjoy this book, but if you are also interested in the journeys and lives of other people and the process of discovering themselves as people you will love it.
The book describes the life of artist Bruno Torf who creates in a variety of mediums and genre, not just sculpture. It shares a peek into his childhood, and journey into adulthood as the artist travels and experiments with his art. The biography continues to show us his family and other aspects of the artist's life that are of importance to him.
The writing is light and reflects the humour of the artist and his many humorous works. The book has a lovely balance of commentary and photography. In some places I would have liked more description about the works and photos, but then others will be content to create their own interpretations and monologue. The writing does not distract from the poignant photography and I can tell the design and layout has allowed several pages to be completely dialogue free, which I appreciated.
After reading the book for the fourth time I think it is possibly even two books combined into one. The life and journey of an artist, and the incrediably life changing experience of the Australian bush fires, 2009. In particular the destruction of the artist's current home town, Marysville, Victoria.
The last third of the book describes the destruction, (or maybe rebirth? Renaissance?) of Bruno's Sculpture Garden in the fires now always remembered in Australian history as 'Black Saturday'. The post fire photos are very moving, yet beautiful. The photography reveals the heartbreaking destruction of beautiful Australian forest and the amazing survival of many of Bruce's garden sculptures, despite the fiercest, inferno imaginable. The writing suggests it was a time of extreme emotion but also a lesson in love and hope.
It's not often that I read a book four times in the duration of a week. Partly it was because I was very proud to read the writing of someone I know and love, but also because some books that land in your lap have a quality that's difficult to let go. I am left after the fourth read wanting to visit these amazing sculpture gardens, rekindle the relationship with my talented cousin and with the hope that one day soon I will read about the rebuild of an artist's life and dream.
To Bruno; your family, Andrew and Iris. A job well done. A beautiful result. xx