Aarale Ben Arieh

Down to Earth Daydreamer

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Toy Sculptures

Toy sculptures

"It was back in the days when I was apprentice to Abu Ibrahim, an old deaf man from Sheikh Iblin on the Gaza coast who built boats and ploughs.

We were sitting on the floor of his workshop in the market sipping sweet tea. The floor was strewn with citrus wood chips produced by our hatchets. The smell of fresh wood mingled with the scent of citrus and permeated the room.

The master gave me an unusual job to do – to make a wooden toy for his grandson. I was both surprised and thrilled by the request and at the end of the day I presented him with a rocking bird.

On the morrow Abu Ibrahim did not look a happy man and told me he had not had a moment’s peace since we parted the day before. It seems his 12 grandchildren who lived with him had raised a commotion over the toy. They all wanted one. I happily suggested that I make one for each of his grandchildren, and he was delighted. Buoyed by his reaction I set to my task and, by the evening, had finished 12 small pieces.  Abu Ibrahim took the bag of toys home. The following morning he told me the toys had been a great success and that peace and quiet had been restored to his home."

There has been no looking back since then. The toy sculptures have changed shape and materials. In time they have grown into sculptured adventure parks all over Israel and the world. The entire Toy Sculptures collection was exhibited at the IsraelMuseum in 1987.

The “toy sculpture” you have is a descendant of the original works. It is simply and charmingly designed and suffused with the scent of peace.