Playing with collage by Jeannie Baker

cover image

Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781406378665.
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Themes: Collage, Arts and crafts, Invention, Recycled materials. The front cover invites the readers to look more closely at the image, working out what it is made of and what it could be. For those who know Jeannie Baker's work, the background knowledge that she plays with collected items from nature will stand them in good stead as they scan the cover. But those who do not know her work, and there can be only be a handful, then this will be an eye popping read.
Aimed at a younger audience, but with enough information and instructional images to appeal to anyone with an interest in art, Playing with Collage is a joy to read.
Each chapter involves a double page of information with illustrative photographs, allowing the reader to see just how her work is done, as she gives the most basic of instructions that will make every reader believe that they can do it too, even someone new to the field.
After the introduction, three more double pages talk about Tools, Tips and Playing with Materials. After these the book is divided into four parts, each dealing with a different aspect of collecting materials. The first is Paper which encourages readers to collect all sorts of paper, then play around with it, making different shapes and images. This is followed by Out in Nature, where she shows the readers the sorts of things they can collect when out in the field. Again, On the beach shows a range of things that can be collected while beach walking, and the last section, In the Kitchen showcases the sorts of things that are right under our noses.
Baker goes on to discuss Translucency encouraging the reader, as always, to try it out for themselves, and the last section shows a variety of found materials and asks the reader to guess what materials she has used in her egg box collage.
And this then is the aim of this beautiful book. Readers will be so entranced that they will go out and try her techniques for themselves, marvelling at her work, seeing her work with fresh eyes.
Readers familiar with her work will be astounded at the range of materials she collects to use in her collages and look more closely at the books when they come across them. For others this book will initiate collection and storage then experimentation as they try out some of the techniques she espouses.
This is a beautiful read from every point of view: an instruction manual, an art book, a book espousing the art of collage, a peep into Baker's talents, an inducement to re-look at Baker's other books.
Fran Knight