Monday, 12 November 2007

The Arrival

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan is a ridiculously talented Australian writer-illustrator. This 2006 book The Arrival is one of the most original books I've ever seen; telling its story entirely through pictures, it has the feel of an old, dreamlike, silent movie like Metropolis or The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.

The story concerns an man who leaves his own country in search of a better life in a strange new place. We see him struggle with language, customs, technology, plants and animals, which are utterly foreign to him. He meets other immigrants and hears their stories, and he works to be reunited with his wife and daughter. If that sounds dull, don't be put off! It's scary and sad and hopeful and whimsical and funny. And every page is a lush visual experience.

Shaun Tan has a great website, here.

The Lost Thing

The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan

If you liked The Arrival, you'll love this fantasy about a boy who takes care of a strange lost creature that is part organic and part mechanical. Visually it reminded me of the fantasy cities in the movies Brazil, Dark City, The City of Lost Children, and Jasper Morello, among others, and with elements of the paintings of Salvador Dali and Hieronomous Bosch; it has its own playful Shaun Tan style that isn't like anyone's else's.

Art in the 'Hood

The building that used to be the local corner shop is now a painter's studio. There are giant, photorealist paintings in the window. They're of children's toys which look familiar but somehow altered, somehow disquieting. Behind the display, but still visible, is a partly-finished work still being painted. If you go at the right time, you can see the painter working; and if he's not there working you can go around the back and knock on the door. I don't know what it's like for him working in a fishbowl, but it's pretty interesting for the rest of us. He is David Woodings, and his website is here.