Sometimes artists or authors have depicted or explained an aspect of what God is like through animals. In the much-loved Narnia stories of CS Lewis, the lion Aslan is a character who represents God or Jesus, a kind and powerful and self-giving king. The Bible itself describes God in many ways, including at one point as a mother hen who cares for and protects her chicks! In a new book of illustrations by the artist Charlie Mackesy, the God-like character is neither a lion, nor a chicken. Instead, God is something like a big horse.
Charlie Mackesy is a Christian artist, sculptor and illustrator who lives in London. His new book is called The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse. The book is a collection of beautiful ink drawings which he first distributed via his Instagram account (which now has 181,000 followers!) and is popular with many people of all walks of life. Within the world of the book, a young boy often expresses the frustration and pain of being human, and it is the horse who often offers kind, wise counsel. “Life is difficult, but you are loved,” the horse says to the boy at one point. Like the Narnia books, some of the things that the characters ponder, say or do resemble aspects of living out a Christian faith – from self-sacrifice to kindness, from patience to courage. The book also reminds us that the inner world of our hearts is where real transformation needs to happen for us to change and grow.
For me, Charlie’s drawings remind me most of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. These ended in 1995 (and so I am showing my age!) but in the world of Calvin and Hobbes, the boy Calvin, often misunderstood by the adults in his life, finds a friend in his stuffed tiger Hobbes who he imagines to be alive. Hobbes is a gentle, wise and kind friend who helps him make sense of the world. Even more famously, Charlie Brown would enjoy the companionship and loyalty of his dog Snoopy, and Christopher Robin had Winnie the Pooh and the other animals of Hundred Acre Wood. If any of these have ever appealed to you, I recommend Charlie’s book, which seems destined to become a classic. It’s a book suitable for both children and adults. Why not put this one on your Christmas list, or purchase a copy for someone else?
Ps. In our St John’s service last Sunday, Rachel showed us a painting of the prodigal son being embraced by his father. This painting is also a piece of art by Charlie Mackesy. You can find out more about Charlie and his work at his website: www.charliemackesy.com.