Book Projects

Firmament, The Lost Christmas Gift



Photographs and Essays by Andrew Beckham

Foreword by Blake Milteer, Museum Director and Chief Curator,

Taylor Art Museum/Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

George F. Thompson Publishing, Fall 2013

This book has been a labor of love that many, many people have helped to make possible. It is an expression of my concerns as an artist, and as a human being, about trying to make sense of our place in the universe. It’s a real privilege to have this project published by the eminent George F. Thompson, and I feel humbled by, and grateful for, the opportunity.

Firmament is an archaic word rich in meaning.  Its definition is twofold: an expanse both terrestrial and cosmological, referring to the dome of stars above as well as to the ground beneath our feet.  To be in both places at once, the earth and the heavens, is an idea steeped in theology and myth.  With one word, firmament challenges the dichotomy of sacred and profane that Judeo-Christian culture has struggled with for millennia. But firmament also opens the door for a contemplative response, even as it poses daunting questions about, to borrow from Gary Snyder, our “place in space.”

These have become my questions over the years: how do we find a meaningful place for ourselves in the world; how do we know where we fit?  Is my backyard any less important or difficult a place to pose these questions than the forest, the mountain, the windswept plain?  One square mile or one thousand, connecting with the intimacies of a particular geography takes time and patience and care.  Even so, our relationship with place is necessarily a relationship to scale.  Looking up with sure footing, how can I know with any certainty where our tiny planet is placed, orbiting our modest sun, as it moves with the spiral arms of the Milky Way, one galaxy among millions?

The Book of Job from the Old Testament offers some weighty perspective, as God probes Job about the nature of his place in the firmament: “Where is the road to light?  Where is the west wind released and the east wind sent down to earth?  Have you guided dawn to its place, to hold the corners of the sky and shake off the last few stars?  Have you seen the edge of the universe?”

Like Job, I have no answers.  It is only through the practice of photography that I am able to return to these questions again and again, with what I hope to be some measure of courage and imagination.  In so doing, my “place in space” may be illuminated just a little more clearly than it was before, even as the ineffable nature of the universe remains, as it was for Job, something to contemplate in awe and silence.

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This project is made up of three suites of images.  For more about each suite, and to see a selection of the photographs, follow the links below:

I. One Square Mile

  1. II.Twenty Thousand Square Miles

III. An Incalculable Distance





An Artist’s Book written and illustrated by Andrew Beckham

Princeton Architectural Press, October 2012


“Andrew Beckham's art has always suggested to me a world far more magical than the one we inhabit, but one I have always believed was out there, if I could only free myself from the practicalities of modern life. Now he has found a story to help the most recalcitrant among us into the beautiful prisms of his imagination. The Lost Christmas Gift deserves to become part of the Holiday tradition in countless families. The story is deeply moving, the artwork, simply sublime.”

-Pam Houston

"You could buy this for the production values alone, but the story is absolutely mesmerizing. A parcel arrives, lost in the mail since World War II. Inside is a handmade book from a father to his little boy at home, tracing a winter adventure with photos, drawings, and delicate maps. You’ll ask yourself if the package is real. It doesn’t matter."

-Bookriot / Always books. Never boring.

“In The Lost Christmas Gift, Andrew Beckham brings us a wonderous, eerily timeless story about love, survival, war, ceremony, family, magic, and the gods. He delivers us to the realm of the marvelous.”

-Barry Lopez

“Every year, I make it a tradition to pick up one very special Christmas book for the entire family to experience and share for years to come… This year, I’ve found something quite incredible. The book is called The Lost Christmas Gift by Andrew Beckham. The story is touching, exciting, filled with tension and drama and pure wonder. It is a picture book, but one for all ages. In a word, it is exquisite.”

-Fallen Star Stories / The Children’s Book Blog

The Lost Christmas Gift debuted in September of 2012, and before Christmas had arrived, the First Edition was entirely sold out. On the Denver Post Bestseller’s List for 4 weeks in a row, TLCG also made the LA Times’ Holiday Gift Guide, and received accolades from across the country. The second printing is now available. The Lost Christmas Gift can be found at independent booksellers nationwide, as well online outlets, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.