Monday, April 19, 2010

The most beautiful and sumptuous books that we mere mortals can ever hope to lay hands on: Tara Books

The London Jungle Book by Bhajju Shyam

I'm sure that a lot of you are already familiar with the exquisite books that Tara has been producing since 1994- almost everyone connected with the book biz has no doubt pored appreciatively (and covetously!) over at least one or two of their lush, colourful publications. Even so, I couldn't resist a post on Tara books!  Founded by Gita Wolf, they are based in Chinnai, in south India. The work of their Indian artists highlights the best of everything that I have always appreciated in Indian art; it is decorative, lively, riotously colourful, filled with patterns, texture, and such obvious enthusiasm for all aspects of the natural world.  I am presenting here just a small selection, just a few of the numerous beautiful books that they have produced.  I urge you to look at their site to see more, and to learn more about their company and various authors/artists.

Many of their titles are limited-edition handmade books, such as The Night Life of Trees:

The Night Life of Trees was illustrated by a group of artists of the Gond tribe (  the 'Gond' comprises an area of central India)  including the brilliant Bhajju Shyam, who also illustrated:
Flight of the Mermaid:


I love the zoomorphism of these two books, and the effortless intertwining of nature-based pattern into the depiction of humans (and near-humans)!

by West Bengalese scroll painters and singers Joydeb and Moyna Chitrakar.  This book replicates the traditional format of a Patua scroll.  It expresses perfectly the chaos and destructiveness of the disaster in its swirls of jumbled characters and jarring colour combinations.

From the Tara site: " In the traditional manner of Patua art, this innovative scroll-book transforms the dramatic news into a moving and artfully rendered fable. Dirge-like in tone and translated from the original Bengali song, the Tsunami ballad evokes, as all ancient forms of keening do, the persistence of life in death. The extraordinary imagination of the Patua artists introduces an old fashioned empathy into modern reportage-and in the process, creates a moving take that transforms the ephemera of newsrooms into art with a universal resonance. This is the first time a Patua scroll has been rendered into the form of a book. The scroll-book is silk-screen-printed by hand."

 ...and I eagerly await the appearance (next month!) of

  Monkey Photo!

 (illustrated by Swarna Chitrakar with text by Gita Wolf)

Well, that's about enough gushing from me for the moment.  There are many more beautiful books on the tara site , including many more picture books (not all handmade; some you might even be willing to share with your kids- if they're good!), including some board books , as well as postcards and some beautiful prints that I think I might NEED.  I will leave you with this link to their most recent blog entry, which talks about their newest handmade book, SSSS: Snake Art and Allegory.


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