Just Passing the Time

"Children of the World Create Together" calendar. Published by Turnowsky, Tel Aviv. 12 pages. 45 by 49 centimeters. NIS 179.

"Colours, Flavours and Blue Skies" calendar. Published by Turnowsky, Tel Aviv. Photographs by Itamar Greenberg. 12 pages. 42 by 37 cm. NIS 78.90.

A common saying (so common that it is common to forget it) that is a favorite among politicians the world over is "Time is on our side." However, anyone who has taken the time to consider this saying knows that time works in nobody's favor. Like a seasoned journalist, time never takes a position on anything. Instead, time does what it does best: It passes.

And time has passed with monotonous regularity - second after second, minute after minute, hour after hour, night after day, day after night, day after day after day after day after day after day after day, week after week (repeat that phrase about 52 times), month after month (12 times, sometimes, 13, on Hebrew leap years), and year after year - 5,764 times (so far) since the universe's creation, according to Judaism. And this process will continue forever until someone happening to sit beside a certain button decides otherwise.

Time's cyclical quality is a challenge to calendar designers and manufacturers. I refer here not to an appointment book, a vital tool if you are organized, because without it, you would never know the day's schedule (although some of the work is now the province of the computerized world - through palm pilots). No, I am talking about calendars, those masterpieces of utilitarian art that we hang on our walls, which please the eye, and which act as if it is really possible to learn from them what the day's date is.

These wondrous creations of design and print are, in our digital world, a gorgeous, breathtaking remnant of the analog world, a luxury item we can do without (some people argue that this will be the fate of books in future years; I, of course, disagree) but which make life much more pleasant. Calendars have certainly not disappeared from today's world, nor will they disappear from tomorrow's. Granted, in our present economic situation, and in the face of the possibilities the computer world offers, calendar manufacturers are more hard-pressed than ever. But those who are experts in their craft and who know how to innovate constantly, always survive.

There is a strong temptation here. After all, the calendar is hung on the wall and, each month, we turn over another page. By year's end, we have forgotten what the previous pages looked like. What could be easier for manufacturers than to reprint a calendar that has been a winner year after year and to simply adjust the days of the week to the dates (because, unfortunately, the seven days of the week do not easily fit into the mold of 364 or 365 days each year nor into the framework of 29-, 30- or 31-day months)?

Art and innocence

The calendar market is bigger than most people think. Calendar fairs are held throughout the world, prizes are awarded for design, and most calendars are exported from one country to another, translated from one language into another (some are multilingual to begin with), and adjusted to different calendar systems (Gregorian or Hebrew, and some combine both). The Steimatzky bookshop chain regularly imports and prints calendars and Palphot manufactures and exports them. Both companies can be seen primarily as manufacturers, perhaps even as a separate industry. One of the few Israeli handcrafters of calendars is the Turnowsky company's Dan Toren, who each year speaks about his calendars with the joy of a child who has just invented a new toy.

Turnowsky's flagship calendar is entitled "Children of the World Create Together," whose first edition was manufactured before the start of the present millennium. Through international contacts, the calendar's designers turned to children aged 5 to 10 around the world, asking them to draw a flower (or leaf), a tree, a friend, a house or a moon. Some of the children also added a word or two about the subject of their drawing. The Turnowsky studio turned the drawings into absolutely delightful collages, integrating into each calendar page the names of the child artists, their countries of residence and some of what they had written. With pages in different tones of yellow and with some of the words engraved or embossed, the studio produced what was called (in wall calendar exhibitions in Stuttgart and the United States, where the calendar won prizes) "A beautiful display of art and innocence" and won accolades such as "Their creations came together to form new worlds of imagination where the common language is fantasy and hope."

Elinor from London, Patricia from Madrid, Nathalie from Uppsala, Maya from Zichron Yaakov, Geovana from Ecuador, and Daria from Denver (and many, many more children from many, many more places) together drew a lovely bouquet of flowers. In contrast with what they see daily on their television screens, Stephanie from Marrakesh, Christian from Prague, Eldad from Abu Ghosh and Noa from Zagreb drew houses that proudly stood on their foundations, not hovels created by a bomb dropped in this or that war. Among the children, there is only one Arab girl, Dina from Nazareth, but there is no Arab child from Judea, Samaria or the Gaza District. Perhaps in the next edition - because, as we all know, time works in favor of children.

The second calendar is a local Israeli product. Under the rubric, "Colours, Flavours and Blue Skies," color photographs were commissioned to capture beautiful landscapes in Israel. Each page is devoted to a different subject, each of which will warm the heart and please the eye with colors such as orange, brown, blue, green, red or "lively colors." As is standard at Turnowsky, the composition is absolutely charming.

And what will we do at the end of the year with last year's calendars? As with any other disposable product, we will just throw them out, I suppose.