Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky and Isabelle Arsenault (Abrams & Chronicle)

It struck me as I was reading this to Charlotte that Louise Bourgeois is just one of those artists whose works surreptitiously work themselves into your subconscious, and whose influence you see in so many of the works of art you love.
In "Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois" we're taken on a lilting and lyrical journey through Louise's life, stretching right back to her childhood and early home life.

Louise's mother was an incredibly talented seamstress who repaired and restored tapestries for a living. Her deft hands and expert eye for colour and form were soon passed on to Louise, who began to find her own artistic feet very early on in life.

Louise's childhood sounds like the sort of childhood we'd all crave. Living in a big house next to a river, with enough landscape around it for exploring and adventures, and all-night camping under the stars. As Louise grows older, and starts to look beyond her house and garden to the world beyond, the journey follows the river like a thread, weaving its way to Paris as Louise attends college - and watches the world change in the name of 'progress'.

Close to her mother, but distant from her father (the section about him always leaving, and Louise throwing herself into the river in a rage hits home like a mallet blow - one of the few moments in the book where you're jarred away from an almost floaty dreamlike view of her life), Louise is devastated when her mother dies and spends much of her artistic life paying homage to her.

Without a doubt, you'll know of her amazing sculpture work...

Louise Bourgeois - "Maman" (1999)
You may have even seen this one standing imposingly outside the Tate Modern in London. Louise also continued works in textiles and fabrics, adopting the skills she'd learned from her mother in early life.

"Untitled" (2005)
Louise was a talented Mathematician and Astronomer but art became her all-consuming passion, and she was still creating amazing works right up until her death at the age of 98 in 2010.

"Cloth Lullaby" is a stunning introduction to Louise's work and life, and the effect it had on Charlotte was mesmeric, as we finished the story and then read all about the real-life Louise at the back of the book and on various internet pages (it's always a good sign that a book has been a hit when it leads to further investigations and research purely because you fall completely in love with the subject matter). Louise is paid due homage here with utterly glorious and immersive storytelling fused with the most beautiful artwork.

Do not miss this!

Charlotte's favourite bit: Louise's early adventures sleeping out in a makeshift tent in her fabulous garden.

Daddy's favourite bit: I've loved Louise's work for a long time, and it's so brilliant to see a children's book that introduces her in such a delightful and lyrical way. Reading this out loud is like reading a glorious passage of poetry and then using it as a jumping off point for more research on Louise's life and works has been brilliant. What an utterly stunning book!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Abrams and Chronicle Children's Books)

"Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois"

Written by Amy Novesky

Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Published by Abrams and Chronicle

Publication Date: 1st March 2016