Handiwork: Sara Baume

Everything about this book is satisfying – the size (pleasingly pocket-sized), the texture (heavy-grade, slightly rough paper) and of course the contents. It’s a beautifully wrought insight into the mind of an artist who explores her craft, her inspiration, her influences and the world around her in little sequences. Many of these sequences read like little prose poems that stand alone. Many are peppered with the wisdoms of others, from William Morris’s “Art must arrive from daily life” to Stephen Knott’s “definition of the concept of flow as ‘utopia in a moment’”. Unsurprisingly given Baume’s artwork, birds feature heavily as does her grief at the death of her father – more than once, I was reminded of Helen McDonald’s phenomenal ‘H is for Hawk’ which also uses a relationship with birds to weather the storm of grief for a deceased father. (For McDonald it was taming a goshawk, for Baume it’s tempting birds into the garden).

It’s a beautiful book, filled with intimate insights. It’s incredibly personal and I’m sure any creative type will recognise the chaos caused by a person’s need and desire to create conflicting with their self-doubt. I’ll definitely find answers in it for years to come.

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