Cut out and keep

<strong>This Is For You</strong>

Rob Ryan <em>Sceptre, 64pp, £12</em>

The childish beauty of Rob Ryan’s intricate paper cut-outs have won him commissions for Vogue and Liberty, but the arrival of his first book, This Is For You, will grant his many admirers a more personal experience. This is a whimsical, visual fairytale for not-so-grown-up grown-ups, which, through exquisitely detailed pictures, tells the story of a melancholic young man seeking someone to share his heart with. (According to his mother, “it needs someone in there with you to help fill it up”.)

The overriding sentiment is that of the necessity of longing, gently conveyed through curlicued leaves, ladders and skyscapes whose intricacies make it hard not to linger over every page. Each one, in all its home-made charm and fragility, is a labour of love, supposedly literally, as they are hopeful messages to the future “you” of his soul mate.

If all this sounds twee to the point of emetic, then yes, the unashamed prettiness does go hand in hand with some occasionally syrupy sentiments. Bizarrely, there’s also the odd jarring archaism, including “naught” and “o mother mine”, perhaps induced by the old-fashioned sampler feel of many pages. But try not to think too hard about what little plot there is – this is definitely one for the heart, rather than the mind.

This article first appeared in the 08 October 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Election fever