The art of John Bauer entered my world when I was under double figures and cast a spell. With Bauer’s art, nature works in harmony with the ethereal figures that dwell within it. The landscapes that my young eyes studied hungrily would quickly become the landscapes that I wanted to dwell within too.
I can recall, when I first visited Scandinavia in 2009, feeling as though I was walking through one of his paintings. Now, several years later, I still have that same feeling whenever I venture into the forest. I’m still spellbound.
When I uncovered the large and beautifully designed gift book Sagovärld – Det var en gång at Borås Library I was almost overcome with emotion. I wanted to reach out for the closest librarian and hug them and tell them how grateful I was that their library had Bauer on the shelves.
I’m sure that if I had done that they would have thought I was mad. Bauer is one of Sweden’s best known artists, so for the Swedes, having Bauer’s books in their libraries is as everyday as the English having a book by Beatrix Potter.
Sagovärld or Fairytale World is a collection of 10 classic short stories, written to accompany Bauer’s artwork. The authors include Elsa Beskow, Cyrus Graner, Helge Kjellin, Helena Nyblom, Alfred Smedberg, Walter Stenstrom, Anna Wahlenberg and Harald Ostenson.
Though it will be a while before I’m able to enjoy the stories entirely in Swedish, I can still reap enormous pleasure from the lavish illustrations.