Eight gifts given

for a journey through life

sample pages

Jacket blurbs

“Beautiful project.”

– Lewis Hyde Author of The Gift


“Clare Whistler’s marvellous compendium is in itself a gift of collaboration: thoughts, poems, images, and meanderings. In a reader’s hands, her gift book hatches like a full moon.”

– Gretel Ehrlich Travel Writer, Poet and Essayist


“This book is a record of formative experiences, an invitation to a larger public share of the childlike clarity and commitment to a richer and more delicate world held, gently, and almost miraculously, by a small group of friends.”

– Peter Sellars Opera and Theatre Director


“Clare Whistler’s work is a stimulus to thought and experience which finds depth and beauty in the everyday – a gift to all of us.”

– Dr Thomas Dixon Director, Centre for the History of Emotions, Queen Mary, University of London

The gifts book

Clare Whistler’s Gifts project was inspired by a naming day gift for Clare’s eldest son in 1989. It was a box containing an egg for life, some coal for heat, evergreen for eternity, salt for health, a candle for light, bread for food, a coin for wealth and a silver ring for love throughout life.


Over ten years, from 2005-2015, Clare placed each of these elements in turn at the heart of its own remarkable creative hub, generating a cycle of artistic collaborations and relationships and re-energising the meaning and cultural significance of gift-giving.


This book brings together the artists, the art, the places and the thinking behind all the stages of Gifts and weaves in the memories and responses of guests invited to the events that marked the culmination of each element. Essays on different aspects of gifts and gift giving, along with generous offerings on ritual, collaboration, folklore and creativity together make an astonishing and beautiful book.

Buy gifts

Essays written and gifted by

Peter Sellars, Jonathan Dove, Sally-Shakti Willow, Matilda Bathurst, John May, Robin McKenna, Jen Mitas, Kris De Meyer and Jane Trowell.


Archive film footage from the eight Gift events has been reinterpreted into a film ‘Gifts’ by filmmaker Nichola Bruce with Sam Sharples.


300 pages

210 x 250mm

UK £24.95 + £3.50 P&P


ISBN 9781526203601

Published by Elephant Press 2016

 Clare Whistler © All rights reserved


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