Origami, Poems and Pictures by The British Museum

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Origami, Poems and Pictures by The British Museum

Category: Crafts
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A magical combination of craft, poetry and art. It might be aimed at children but this adult found it soothing, relaxing and enjoyable.
Buy? Yes Borrow? No
Pages: 32 Date: May 2017
Publisher: Nosy Crow
ISBN: 978-0857639387

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Sometimes you find a delight of a book. On an afternoon when it was unseasonably cold and decidedly wet I discovered Origami, Poems and Pictures and I was transported to Japan. As the title suggests we're looking at three celebrated arts and crafts: the ancient art of paper folding, haiku poetry and painting. I'll confess that it was the origami which caught my attention, but I was surprised by the extent to which the rest of the book caught my imagination. We begin with something very simple: a boat and in case you're worried, all the entries have a degree of difficulty (from 'simple' through to 'tricky') and this one is at the lowest level.

It takes just seven steps to make a boat: it's a very simple boat but a boat nevertheless. There's a haiku too:

how long the day:
the boat is taking
with the shore.

This is credited to Sokan: the name was new to me and I went exploring. It seems that this was the adopted name of Shina Norishige, a 15th century poet. There's a picture to look at too. It's The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai, dating from the early nineteenth century and it's one of those pictures where you see something new every time you look at it. It's as though the full story of the men kneeling in prayer as their boats are battered by the wave is only slowly going to be revealed. Just one double-page spread absorbed me for over an hour as I built a boat, thought about the haiku, researched the author and then considered the painting. It was a refreshing, soothing hour, in fact, almost magical.

Each of the thirteen projects is graded, with some of the more difficult pieces of origami being quite stunning. I loved the dragonfly, but my favourite is the flower, deceptively simple to look at but stunning. If you need further instruction to help you with the origami there's a QR code which links to step-by-step 'How to' videos. You're wondering about what sort of paper to use, aren't you? Well, there's a pad of fifty sheets at the back of the book: most are patterned on one side and plain on the other and they're the perfect weight for the craft. There's hours of soothing enjoyment to be had from this book.

All the paintings and prints in the book belong to the British Museum.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

For more on Japanese art - this time netsuke - we can recommend The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal. For an introduction to Japanese culture, have a look at Japan Through The Looking Glass by Alan Macfarlane.

Buy Origami, Poems and Pictures by The British Museum at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Origami, Poems and Pictures by The British Museum at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Origami, Poems and Pictures by The British Museum at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Origami, Poems and Pictures by The British Museum at Amazon.com.


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