I know there is a God
Who stepped down the clouds
To walk amongst us
And to die amongst us,
He was but a babe,
My saviour was a child
Who went through puberty like me,
He had dreams and nightmares
A giggle and a smile,
My saviour may be divine
But He became human
And lived life as a man.

Maybe he had a favourite
Region for wine
And when he carved wood
He could not resist
Using the left over bits
To make toys for the kids
Down the street.

Blistered feet from walking miles
Looking forward to sitting down
Covered by shade
Chatting to friends
Checking his coin purse to see
If he could buy one of those
Freshly baked loaves
Which filled his nose
With their aroma.

He got caught in the rain
Perhaps he worried he
Wasn’t beautiful enough
Looking into the lake
Amongst the drops and waves
Wondering if he should have
Been created this way.

Maybe there were days
When he wanted to stay in bed
But could never tell his mum
Why everything was not ok.

Jesus was human
And it is worth remembering
That his humanity
Gave him empathy:
He knows what it’s like
To be us.

Konan Yao, a Baule sculptor at work, Yagolikro village, Ivory Coast

Baule fly-whisks are carved in a light wood covered in a thin sheet of hammered gold. According to Baule goldsmiths, the technique of gold-leafing was introduced from the Akan region of Ghana.

Timothy F. Garrard, 1989: Gold of Africa, Prestel. Photo: Eliot Elisofon, 1972.


Ultrafragola  (Ultra Strawberry)

Both in its name and in its sinuous shape, this evocative and erotic ‘vanitas’ is an homage to women’s sensuality by Ettore Sottsass. It was realised in materials that were unashamedly new: wavy vacuum-formed acrylic sheet and coloured neon light as opposed to the more traditional mirror made from gilded, carved wood. For Sottsass “Life is perceived by the senses before the intellect, and sexuality belongs to that sensorial vocabulary.” He intended this piece to carry deep meaning and yet carry a modern simplicity. In the home the object would assume a ritual value, as if it had sprung from the ancient oriental cultures in to the present. Ultrafragola was the only production piece from the Mobili Grigicollection that Sottsass designed for Poltronova in 1970 yet still looks as fresh today.


World’s Longest Wooden Sculpture

Chinese artist Zheng Chunhui recently unveiled this exceptionally large and intricately carved wooden sculpture that measures some 40 feet (12.286 meters) long, 10 feet (3.075 meters) high and almost 8 feet (2.401 meters) wide. Four years in the making, the tree carving is based on a famous painting called Along the River During the Qingming Festival, which is a historical holiday reserved to celebrate past ancestors that falls on the 104th day after the winter solstice. The Guinness World Records group arrived in November in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, where the piece is currently on display, to declare it  “the world’s longest wooden sculpture”.

source 1, 2

Large (Wikimedia)

This is George-Jules-Victor Clairin’s Spanish Woman on a Balcony. (“Woman” is not a typo—maybe the others are English spies? Or men in drag?)

All joking aside, it should not be at all strange to hear from Christie’s that Clairin had an “association with the theatre.” While it is certainly obvious that he had indeed visited (and been impressed by) Spain, the touch of drama goes beyond that of a wide-eyed tourist.

The exaggerated intricacy of the carved wood (with its dragons and bull skulls and scrolls), and the sheer overabundance of flowers—added to the set-like isolation of the balcony from the surrounding architecture—make this the Spain of the stage.

Objectof the Month: Woman’s Busk

ByLaura L. Camerlengo and H. Kristina Haugland

Do you look at this object and wonder, “What is it?” Perhaps it’s a decorative panel, a cooking utensil, or a tongue depressor?

You may be surprised to learn that this carved maple wood slat is actually a busk. Beginning in the sixteenth century, busks were used to stiffen stays (an early name for corsets). Busks were made of rigid materials such as bone, whalebone or wood, and would be inserted down the front of a pair of stays to render it inflexible. This reinforced the ideal conical and erect torso, and ensured that any bending was donefrom the hips, not the waist, encouraging dignified posture and movement.

In the eighteenth century, busks were sometimes hand carved with emblems, as seen on this example. This busk’s design was created by chip carving, where knives or chisels are used to remove small bits of wood. While busks often served a practical purpose, not all were functional; some were to be made and given as love tokens. This was likely the case with this example, as it features a large heart at its centerfront, surrounded by the initials “R.S.”. These same initials appear on the back of the busk, along with another pair of initials (“P.L.”) and “1777,” likely the year the busk was made.

Woman’s Busk, American, 1777

Maple with chip carving

12 ½ x 2 5/8 inches (31.7 x 6.7 cm)

Gift of Mrs. William D. Frishmuth, 1912-34