Music and art, or books about music and art, are all I ever really want for any Christmas, seeing as how, even at sixty eight, I still have my two front teeth! There are, of course so many of such books to choose from, it is sometimes difficult to know for certain what would be a good purchase for my wife to make for me, or I for her, as her tastes are pretty similar. I have, over the years been very grateful to those journalists and columnists who make their considered recommendations on-line or in the print media. As I now move into my fourth year of writing for Lanzarote Information on-line, I realise that I perhaps have a duty to compile our own list of recommendations for our readers and that such a duty is fraught with burdens of responsibility. Nevertheless I have already delivered recommendations, here, of books set in or about Lanzarote and with a little help from my friends, I have posted my own Sidetracks & Detours blog, commendations of the ´best´ musical boxed-sets that would make great Christmas presents, (did you read that, my darling wife?). Today, though, especially for subscribers to Lanzatote Information we bring another set of recommendations, this time of books about art. So, have a browse through the following couple of pages and decide on your purchase,…..not for me, of course, no you musn’t,…..oh alright my address is,…..

Bel Mooney´s article in The Daily Mail on Friday 11th December at
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article-9040557 has actually saved me a lot of time on this Christmas task. Many of the people for whom I buy presents are lovers of the visual arts, but there is often such a plethora of appropriate titles to choose from, In the UK I would often head to my nearest Waterstones (other good book shops were available) and browse what was on the shelves. The trouble with that is that I rarely moved on from the first book I picked up as my browse became a read, became a reverie. Ms. Mooney, though has suggested four titles and given a brief synopsis of each one. Thank you Bel, I´ll perhaps buy them all for patio reading under the pergola for those moths when the sun slides slowly behind the sea and leaves a beautiful pin-tinged sky still light enough to read by..

The first title she offers is Spirit Of Place: Artists, Writers & The British Landscape, written by Susan Owens and published by  Thames & Hudson for £25-00. This, she says, ´is one of the books of the year´ and she explains why in her description of it as ´ a wide-ranging, enthralling examination of how landscape shapes the imagination, and is itself given imaginative shape by painters and writers from the earliest times to the present.´

The book includes the sharing of Palmer’s moonlit visions, and dazzles us with Turner’s radiance, Nash is here, too, with his ´blasted battlefields.´ For those who love literature the book covers ´a beautifully written text which wears erudition lightly´ and the art contained is much to be admired. This is an essential addition to the top bookshelf marked A for Arts. We have already helped you fill shelves L, for books on Lanzarote and M for books on music and musicians.so A for Arts will help balance the books, so to speak.

Shaping The World; Sculpture from Pre-History To Now, written by Antony Gormley and Martin Gayford and published by Thames & Hudson £40) was the second book on Bel Mooney´s list and called just as loudly to me as had her first.

There are perhaps two reasons why the book appeals to me: when I ´discovered´ the work of Gormly it had a profound effect on me and significantly changed (for the better, I think) some of my writing techniques, and also I live on an island so enthralled to another artist (the late Cesar Manrique) that his scores of wind toys, monuments and sculptures still adorn the landscape.

The Daily Mail contributor strongly recommends that we spend some time behind this book, ´eavesdropping on two brilliant men discussing art, bouncing ideas around and clarifying each other’s thoughts.´

Here, the artist and Gayford, the art historian. in fascinating conversational tones, define sculpture as widely as possible (referencing a prehistoric hand-axe and Silbury Hill, for example) illustrating a varied and inspiring analysis accompanied with a generous, seductive selection of illustrative plates. The dangling conversation takes us through fluid forms, such as ritual and dance, and the whole journey from past to present leads you to ´look at the familiar anew´ and, no doubt, envisage the future.

There is something about Gormley and his work that drops me into deep contemplation. Perhaps because I first visited ´Another Place´ (his installation of 100 tin men on Crosby Beach) on a Sunday when the sky was low and black, the waves high and angry and the beach deserted of human beings, except for my wife and I, mingling with these stoic tin-figures staring out to sea, with 100 pairs of eyes seeming to focus on the same spot on the hazy horizon. I wondered what they could see, what they were thinking and all the other who, what, when, where, why questions my ´five bums at the bar´ might have wanted to ask. The drive home, from there back to Rochdale, took us about ninety minutes and throughout that journey my thoughts were a tangle of confusion (that my wife says is my usual state of mind when I´m driving !). The minute we arrived home I rushed to my keyboard and tapped out a piece about what we had seen and only when reading it back did I become aware of its content. Have You Ever Seen The Rain, a title borrowed from Credence Clearwater Revival, was published in Rob Howell´s MAiLOUT magazine. That led to Pam McKee (then my business partner in Just Poets) and I collaborating in a unique way to create a book I had thought was to be called Healing In These Songs but Pam thought was under the working title of The Turnpike Path. I thought I we were writing a contemporary book about a child born of non-consensual sex and Pam thought we were writing a book about the genocide of the Native American Indian. Neither of us told the other what we were writing, we’d simply cut and paste from our texts to make a whole, (and leave some holes). The book is out of its short print run now, but short extracts will be published throughout 2021 on my blog, of selected extracts from that book we eventually called The Healing Process.

However, back to Bel’s books. Picasso and Maya, by Diana Widmaier-Picasso and Carmen Gimenez is, as the £155 price sticker on the Rizoli publication might suggest, an altogether more precious item. It is, it has to be said, ´a handsome book,´ that celebrates an unusual, lavish Paris exhibition devoted to Picasso’s relationship with his elder daughter Maya. The book, says Ms. Mooney is ´a work of art in itself.´ The artist fell in love with Maya’s mother, Marie-Therese Walter (1909 to 1977), when she was only 17 and he was a 45-year-old married man. His drawings of Maya as a baby are a delicate counterpoint to the more familiar style of the paintings and sculpture that record his love for his child. The book would make a special (if expensive) gift to be treasured.

Goya by Janis A. Tomlinson is published by Princeton at £30 and depicts fear in that way that only Goya can. There are no artists that spring to mind who have created anything to compare with his terrified faces of the innocent victims in his series The Disasters Of War. These images reveal the great Spanish artist’s revulsion at the brutality of humankind. Neither do any artists stand in comparison with him for juxtaposing mockery and compassion at human foibles and flaws. Although I have never known much of Goya´s biography or canon, this masterly biography should help me now put the work into context and breathe life into the legend of an artist most of us perceive from afar as a ´morose recluse.´

There is one title, at least, from Lanzarote, that I would be proud to add to this proposed gift list, and I am especially gratified that when we discussed it here in a recent article we received a subsequent enquiry from a regular reader about from where on the island the book might be available. Targeted, perhaps, at children, but so enchanting that when we purchased one for our ten year old grand-daughter in South Korea we also, despite being sixty years her seniors, bought a copy for ourselves!

It was difficult enough for us to track down, even here on the island. Being beautifully hand-crafted I´m guessing it is a fairly limited edition.

We first tried a bookshop Libreria El  Peurto, Calle Inspector Luis Martin 11, Arrecife (near San Gines church) phone 928 815 107. This a wonderfully ´twilight´ shop crowded with books and adorned with posters, all very atmospheric in a John Le Carré style, that had sold its last copy just before we called in. Really helpful staff suggested we try calling back by phone at the end of the week, but when we did so they had not received stock and re-directed us to another shop. We phoned ahead on 928 813 739 and then drove the thirty miles to Libreria Lanzarote, 77 Calle Rambula Medula 75, Arrecife to collect their last two copies. The staff member at this much more brightly lit, spacious and modern book shop was charming and helpful, and we imagine there would be many more fine titles to select from that would be suitable for family members and friends of all ages.

This, The Cesar Manrique Pop Up Book by Mayte Pozo, is certainly suitable for all age groups and represents excellent value, showing great presentation values. If you seek and find and purchase please mention, to the staff member of whatever book shop helps you, that your quest began with a recommendation from the Pass It On pages of Lanzarote Information on-line.

Meanwhile, thanks for reading our pages and enjoy your book-hunting !