Steadfast is my passion for gobbling up the wordy nectar of books that it has even come to the hilariously unpleasant point of it posing a nuisance for those who live with me in my tiny hobbit home, of particular I stress my Amma as one of my more unfortunate victims! It drives her crazy to see so many books splayed all over the carpet that the poor carpet itself is no longer visible to the eyes. I have to be honest, inadvertently my bookworm ways have supplied the floor with mountainous literary padding, yet from this I am able to derive my crafty defence when replying to my cuddly Amma of my quirky mishaps, “Can you not feel how cold it is, Amma? The walls have radiators and we have jumpers but look at the awfully meagre floor, nothing to keep it warm so I thought it would be a nice thing to lend the carpet a thick layering of jackets, kindly donated by my books!”
She is not impressed, of course! Giggle, giggle!
But did You know that if the written word is a primary love of my life then it has a cousin that I treat with equal respect and respond to with comparable awe. The art of illustration! Tonight I am in animated spirits knowing that I am about to introduce to You one of my most treasured illustrators to have come out of the British Isles and she is Jane Ray! My bookshelves are plumply stocked in children’s books whose pages sparkle with prints glimmering with gold-leaf paintings, delicate brush strokes and aflame with an atmosphere that is magical, contemplative, nurturing and dreamily reassuring. To absorb her visual vocabulary is to invite the heart to make tender journeys into the imagination of the child, led by a caring hand that seeks to take You to places and people who will leave a mark of smiling presence in Your soul long after the book and its illustrations have been put away. ♥
Today, the prestigious Guardian paper published some of Ray’s beautifully festive illustrations that were commissioned to accompany their partner tales penned in words. Take delight as ‘The Twelve Days Of Christmas’ comes to colourful life, aching to be read and admired in front of a roaring open log fire, preferably with a circle of wide-eyed and knee-high hobbits – an appetising pleasure which I shall be delivering over Christmas, of course! On the other hand, if sweets are Your calling, as it is most definably mine, then begin to lick those lips as You pore over the marshmallow-soft dreaminess of Ray’s illustrations for ‘The Nutcracker’, a love story that sees its protagonists make passage on a boat to a land enchanted in the shininess of sweets and all things wonderfully sensorial to the curious mind of an adventuress! And, finally, in ‘Heartsong’ You are met with a gloriously touching image as two souls share a warm and affecting embrace that is timely in its message since it tells us exactly what we ought to do with our hearts this Christmas, not to only extend it out for our friends and family but, in any way possible, to those souls too who may not have a roof to sleep under this festive season.
Ray’s illustrative compendium is masterful and fantastical to say the least, and I have learnt much from her that has fed directly into my own storytelling and visual orientations to photography. She is one of many monumental sources of inspiration to my rising as an artist and tonight, roused in Christmassy joy, I would like to pay tribute to this fine, fellow visual dreamer by submitting a photograph of what would have been an empty and monotonous canvas of a stone wall, barren as like the plain piece of paper that yearns to be christened with a word and picture, but I have on this canvas placed my two good friends, and look what happens! Take the plunge to stand back and pay heed to Your eyes as they play in tune with the biological routine of the retinal carpet to register the greyness of the day, but that ambience does not dominate for too long. The ray of Friendship and Love swiftly pushes back the lingering greyness right over the edge of the four sides of the horizon of the frame. What is left is that my heart finds itself joyfully basking in the golden sweet ray of these two people who matter to me very much and to say that in words more often rather than giving credit for the more fundamental building blocks of life, such breathing and eating, tells me vividly and completely than ever, that Love is indeed the hidden encasement of God in a Word. ♥
Like the way I choose to keep my face hidden from the virtual world for most of the year, Love and God encourage You to take the seat of illustrator and beside You, the paints of Your imagination… ♥♥♥
Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester| UK 2015