There are books around me, galore! And some of the oversized books in my collection are quite beautiful. In 2022, I added one more beautiful volume to my collection, “Depth of Field: The Aga Khan Beyond the Lens” (read reflections by Nizar Motani.) I proudly have it on my tiny square living room table for me as well as everyone visiting me to enjoy. As Motani observed: “This epic volume and once in a life time publication should be an occasion of immense pride and happiness for every Ismaili murid and should belong in our homes.”
The photograph of my beloved Imam — Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan — on the front cover is a joy to see. It also serves as a source of strength in my daily life, and reminds me of his ancestry to the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) from whom he is directly descended and holder of the Hereditary Divine Seat of the Imamat. As the volume’s editor, Gary Otte could not have chosen a more vivid and warmer photo for the cover.
On Thursday, May 11, 2023, at the opening of Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s exhibition in Calgary, I acquired “The Living Sea,” a fully illustrated 320 page hardback edition of the Prince’s collection of sea animal photographs captured over the last few years. The exhibition hosts, The Glenbow at the Edison, were allocated 100 copies and, as of the 2nd day of the exhibition, they had already sold 25 copies (each @ CAN $80.00 + taxes, as applicable). According to the information that I have, there will be a total of 350 copies for sale in Canada — including Glenbow’s stock of 100. It appears that the volume, with its small print run, will have to go into second printing. The book is beautifully bound and printed in Spain.
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The Living Sea Exhibition – Fragile Beauty exhibition (May 11-21, 2023, Calgary) is going to be etched in everyone’s memories forever, judging by the comments and the time that most visitors are taking to view the photographs, reading their captions as well as gathering facts and statistics on the fragility of the sea and its beautiful creatures that are posted on a number of panels. I therefore differ with the Ismaili community’s Al-Akhbar newsletter that says that “the exhibit can be viewed in approximately 30 minutes.” Indeed, Prince Hussain’s excellent timeline from 2004-2023 and profile alone require at least 5-7 minutes of reading time. I don’t recommend that visitors rush through an insightful exhibition such as The Living Sea in 30 minutes. I would recommend at least another 20-30 minutes!
And what when the exhibition winds down in Calgary on May 21? Its return to Calgary may be some years away. How are we going to preserve and cherish the memories of the Prince’s incredible insight into the sea and its creatures that we are being presented through the exhibition? How do we cherish the work he is doing and share them with our young children and youth?
This is where owning your own copy of “The Living Sea” becomes important. The book is insightful, and outlines Prince Hussein’s firsthand experiences he underwent to capture these emotive photographs. The electronic media is around, but nothing is as satisfying and pleasurable as holding a book in your hands, taking the time to flip through its pages as you read it. As parents, we will bring excitement and happiness to our children as we show them the book. Their astonishment will be reflected as they point or place their finger on the photographs. Most importantly, this will be an opportunity to educate our children at a young age about the fragility of the marine ecosystem, how vital it is to our existence on Earth, and how imperative it is that we work to protect it as well as all the creatures who call it home. I therefore recommend you to acquire your own copy of this marvellous volume. And many who will not visit the exhibition, will get a lot of satisfaction by owning the volume.
With regard to its prominent placement, “The Living Sea” and “The Aga Khan Beyond the Lens” will sit next to each other at an angle, so that they fit well on my tiny square living room table.
Date posted: May 13, 2023.
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