The Five Senses : Hervé Tullet

The Five SensesThe Five Senses by Hervé Tullet

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been unpacking a lot of my books recently from eternal storage and amidst the general delight of rediscovering old favourites and all the Angela Brazils that I couldn’t remember I had, was this beautiful little book.

Tullet’s introduction to the five senses is a vivid, gorgeous thing. Art books for children are sometimes difficult things that don’t quite know how to deal with what they’re positing to deal with. Do you talk down? Do you talk up? Do you talk across? How do you position your textual voice when you’re talking about something as intensely personal as art?

This book sort of circumspects all that difficult discussion by presenting a series of paintings, cuttings, gluings(interventions?) that explore and dance around the topic. Each section is introduced in a similar manner; bright white background with a black painted ‘touch’ or ‘sound’ before descending into vivid individualistic moments on each page. A series of eyes. A clash of hands. A piece of wood (watch out for splinters). A distorting mirror. Anything, really, and that’s the great joy of this. It plays and dances with everything and does it with a great democracy.

Obviously there are limitations in talking about ‘smell’ or ‘hear’ when we’re looking at a book because of the format of the book. Tullet’s approach to ‘solving’ this is lovely. His images are so evocative, so all consuming that they act as an incentive to take the art out of the book and work with it in the real world. Sit by the side of the road when looking at the traffic page. Walk through the woods when touching the wood page. There’s a lot of activity that can be taken from a book like this and that’s the great joy of it. It’s a book to dip in, to explore and to go back and forth in and to not be afraid of.

It’s a book that acts as a very lovely and very accessible introduction to the art / design world. Mimic the drawings with your kids. Press fingers into paints and smear them along (designated!) walls. Draw around hands and collage them all together. One thing I always did (and still do!) was to make a sort of ‘mood’ book where I stuck in postcards, ticket stubs, photos, leafs – anything, really, which inspired or struck a chord with me. You can see a couple of sample images from this in the slideshow below.

These sort of things also act as a great inspiration for creative writing – use a page as a prompt, an inspiration. What does it make you feel? What does it make you taste?

Tullet’s a joy. I’ll be keeping this one around for a fair bit longer, I think.

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