Another project lead by MiratecArts, this book, suitable for any age, is written by Isabel Mateus, a conservationist from Trás-os-Montes living in England, inspired by her visit to Pico for the Montanha Pico Festival in 2015. It tells a tale like story of a young boy who longs to see the magnificent blue whale from the very whale boat his grandfather, and generations of Azoreans used to hunt them to near extinction.
The author cleverly relates the tender conversations between grandchild and grandfather, in a realistic manner, infusing a detailed history of the necessity and bloody brutality of whale hunting in the Azores and the conservation, since 1986 of the largest mammals on planet earth for future generations.
But what makes this book a classic for future generation are the illustrations of Filipe Gomes, a native son of artistic parents who cut his teeth on the etchings on whale teeth created by his parents,
“Os ossos do corpo do menino que fui foram alimentados na infância pela arte da gravação sobre o marfim dos dentes de cachalote...”
(“The bones of the child that I was were fed in childhood by the art of engraving on the ivory of whale teeth…”)
Digital scrimshaw – a first?!?
Following the art form of scrimshaw perfected by his parents, Gomes creatively, perhaps for the first time ever, transposes the traditional art of scrimshaw onto a digital platform,
“Foram milhares de riscos feitos sobre um ecrã, que me ajudaram a ter uma melhor noção do esforço necessário para gravar sobre marfim...” (“Thousands of lines were made on the screen, which helped get a better idea of the effort required to engrave on ivory…”)
The result of Gomes' skill and innovation, his upbringing, his extensive research, patience, and creativity transform this large size book into a timeless work of art. The use of bright colours, the various hues of green, blue, red, and yellow, the use of black and white create a striking, visually pleasing book.
The well written content, the depiction of the blue whale, the mountain, the sea, the sky, stone houses, vineyards, whaling apparatus, the young boy, and the grandfather, all stylized in grand fashion, creates a timeless and unique contribution to Azorean culture and history.
Review by Manuel Azevedo