The Brothers Grimm in Three Transcendent Dimensions: Shaun Tan’s Breathtaking Sculptural Illustrations for the Beloved Tales – Maria Popova

shauntan_grimm4  Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood)

An article from Maria on her consistently excellent Brainpickings site, concerning some mesmerizing three dimensional illustrations by Shaun Tan for Philip Pullman’s retelling of Grimms’ fairy tales (the German version – sadly, Philip’s edition was published unillustrated in the UK and US).

We agree with Neil Gaiman that ‘we do a disservice to children by shielding them from darker elements’, and that the ‘darker’ fairy tales have a profound and significant role, supporting children in making sense of the darknesses within themselves and within their own experience. Bruno Bettelheim wrote on this theme, in The Uses of Enchantment.

The writer, like many therapists, is fascinated by the uses of metaphor, story, symbolism and myth in therapy, whether with adults or children – and by each of us in our personal processes throughout our lives. She was struck by the archetypal simplicity of Shaun’s sculptures, and their emotional power. They resonate in the psyche, magical (like Rotkäppchen above), chilling (The Story of One Who Set Out to Study Fear), or terrifying (Hansel and Gretel):-

‘Sometimes haunting, sometimes whimsical, always deeply dreamlike, these miniature handcrafted sculptures made of paper, clay, sand, and wax give the Grimm classics a new dimension of transcendent mesmerism.’

Here’s a link to Shaun’s illustrated version of Philip Pullman’s retelling – as said, in German:-

Here’s a direct link to the linked article by Maria on Neil Gaiman’s re-imagining of Hansel and Gretel, illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti:-

and links to another piece on Shaun’s work, and to his book ‘The Arrival’:-

Finally, here is a link to Bruno Bettelheim’s book:-


Thanks to Michael Mantas on Facebook for posting a link to this.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

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