The Balancing Act

This beautiful illustration comes from my favourite new picture book, Duck, Death and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch, published by a wonderful New Zealand company Gecko Press who specialise in publishing English translations of unusual children's books from around the world.

The image of death quietly contemplating the body of his departed friend perfectly encapsulates my mental state at the beginning of this new week after the frenetic pace of last week. My craft supplies have been neatly tidied away and my stack of library books have taken their place ready to be imbibed, their contents hopefully forming themselves into an erudite thesis chapter about the connection between Rita Angus and Cleopatra.

Colin Thompson, How To Live Forever (Random House: UK, 1995)

There's a certain sadness that comes with the realisation that the many facets that make up your life are so diametrically opposed that you have to compartmentalise them all. It's a delicate balancing act.

There's the me who spends hours sitting on a miniature wooden chair in the children's department at Borders reading all the picture books and playing with the pop-up books (last week I discovered that Robert Sabuda's pop-up Wizard of Oz actually has a tornado that spins along a wire as you open the page). There's the publisher me who attempts to conceptualise the work of my favourite poets and artists and turn my responses into limited edition handmade books. There's the crafty me who plays around with fabric and paper spending countless love hours making nice things for my family and friends. And there's the scholarly me who has dedicated four years of my life to understanding why Rita Angus painted two imaginary children that she kept secret from the world. Quite simply there are too many me's and not enough time.

Etienne Delessert, Ashes Ashes (Stewart, Tabori & Chang: New York, 1990)

The daily struggle is to prioritise thesis writing and resist the temptation to play. It's either this:

Or this:
Valorie Fisher, Elsworth's Extraordinary Electric Ears (Simon & Schuster: UK, 2004)

The cautionary tale about the spider and the fly best expresses the struggle:

Because we all know what happens when we give in to temptation:

The Spider and the Fly, Tony DiTerlizzi ( Simon & Schuster: UK, 2002)

Still, what do I have to complain about - they might be split into separate parts but each compartment of my life is a lovely treasure that brings its own rewards. At the end of Duck, Death and the Tulip, Death watches Duck's body float away on the great river. 'For a long time he watched her: When she was lost to sight he was almost a little moved. But that's life, thought Death.'

Etienne Delessert, Ashes Ashes (Stewart, Tabori & Chang: New York, 1990)


Carol Barton said…
Hi Bronwyn,

Since I see from your blog that you like both craft projects AND pop-up books, you might enjoy the idea of making pop-up cards and pages. I have two books out on the subject, titled "The Pocket Paper Engineer, How to Make Pop-Ups Step-by-Step." I admire anyone who tries to continually balance all of your interests. Best wishes, Carol Barton

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