Winter Story 2013

Our lovely granddaughters Lael and Niamh have a wonderful Christmas tradition of composing, with the help of their mom and daddy, an animated Winter Story to share with family and friends. And once again, I’m proud to share it here. This year’s is called Twelve Days. Turn on the sound and if you wish, you can view it screen size by clicking on the icon on the lower right of the bar. You can also see their winter animations from the last few years on their site. Enjoy!

Dutch Art in Burnaby


Image Credit: Rembrandt van Rijn,The Windmill, 1641,
Etching on cream laid paper, 14.7 x 20.7 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

This afternoon we visited the Burnaby Art Gallery and its two exhibitions of Dutch art, Storms and Bright Skies: Three Centuries of Dutch Landscapes and Inner Realms: Dutch Portraits.

These were mostly small drawings and etchings with some watercolours and a couple of oil paintings from the Golden Age, 1600’s to 1800’s. Very fine detailed work (magnifying glasses were on loan), really quite lovely and romantic images of the countryside and people of the day. One image of skaters on a frozen pond had husband wondering if the sticks being used were precursors to today’s hockey sticks? A few Brueghels and several Rembrandts were the highlights. Naturally all the printworks were my favourites and those of Rembrandt most superb, both landscapes and portraits including a self-portrait.

With the dim lighting calling for flash, I did not try to take photos, even were it allowed. It was surprisingly busy, as if it was an opening event, with many families taking advantage of the Sunday afternoon children’s art activities in another room. I think this kind of exhibition of traditional and historic work probably appeals to a greater number of the public than some contemporary work, do you suppose?

Here’s more about the exhibitions in the Burnaby Newsleader, with an image of Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait.

As always when we visit the BAG, afterwards we went for a walk in the lovely garden around the gallery and down to Deer Lake – photos to come tomorrow!




During these long hot and dry summer days I often feel as if time moves very slowly, or I move slowly as if through molasses. Yet, suddenly it is mid-August. We’ve had very busy days all summer with much family coming and going and moving out too. At last we had some decent rain to water the garden, giving me a break from dragging hoses and heavy watering cans. There were the first signs of condensation yesterday morning as you can see in the photos above, taken about 6 a.m.

Over breakfast this morning with some of our family including our granddaughters, the conversation included noting how adept and creative these young ones are with their iPads. For example, the almost 8-year-old one has composed many musical pieces using Garage Band (a music and sound editing program for Macs). Us adults show our ages when we say computers and iPads weren’t even around in our youth!

This made me recall my single attempt with Garage Band years ago (with help from youngest daughter!) when working on a collaboration for qarrtsiluni’s ekphrasis issue. Later I enjoyed revisiting it here and hence thought I’d share the links for some of my newer readers. Those were the days when blogging was still so new and exciting.

slow road, finale

Last but definitely not least was our long desired visit to the architecturally stunning Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler. Planned for many years and opened five years ago, it received a lot of attention during the 2010 Winter Olympics (I thought that’s when it opened). It has a blend of contemporary First Nations work along with historical collections. Please read about it on their excellent website. We’ve long been very impressed by their strong culture and arts so it is a wonderful thing to see it so beautifully presented here and being actively used by the Squamish and Lil’wat people.

A huge carved and rotating wooden disk, one of two overhead to greet visitors as they come in the main entrance.

Note the inspiration from First Nations architecture in the Istken Hall.


One style of boat is for the sea-going people and the other for the inland river fishing tribes.

A view of the Great Hall from upstairs.

A re-creation of the Pit House which is normally underground. Note the benches where each family member had his or her own sleeping spot.

There is an opening in the top of the house to allow smoke to leave and was also the entry/exit with a notched pole as a ladder.

A clay and shell mask, one of many artifacts in the museum area.

I also enjoyed learning more about the BC Aboriginal legends and symbology on their website. You may like to view a short video and slide show which gives a better idea of the Centre than our few photos.

Added later: If you’ve missed the earlier posts in the slow road series and would like to visit them, they are here:
part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, interlude and part 6.

a moth and Nordic art



found on the floor of my studio
like another on the windowsill
and in my office window

Not really related but sometimes rather winglike, mythical and mysterious:

Eyes as Big as Plates, an ongoing collaborative venture between Riitta Ikonen (Finland) and Karoline Hjorth (Norway). I love how their photographs are set in the natural environment and seem to reference ancient Nordic folk stories. The link above goes to a blog about their photo projects and exhibitions in each of their birth countries and now developing in New York City. Their models are volunteer seniors. Here’s the first post. Enjoy!

(Many thanks to Leslee of Third House Party for sending this to me – she knows me well!)

Added March 15th: I keep going back to look at this amazing photo of a moth at Jude Hill’s Spirit Cloth. Be sure to click to view larger. The wing edges look like frayed edges of cloth, just like the pieces of worn cloth she stitches. Her work is just lovely and meditative as is her site – a place of peace and calm.

Added March 26th: Writer and poet Marly Youmans has written a marvellous post about ‘Eyes as Big as Plates’, referencing her own book The Foliate Head and Andy Goldsworthy. I was stunned to open her blog this morning and see the image of one of the “Eyes”, this time on the cover of Kiasma magazine. Kiasma is the modern art museum in Helsinki. Go look!

more Robert Young

Over five years ago I wrote about BC artist Robert Young and his visit to the printmaking studio at Capilano University. Please read that article then come back here.

Last week by an odd chance, Robert and I had a lovely email conversation. He had not seen that early post I wrote about him and had some nice things to say including this:

You may be interested to know that the print reproduced in your article contains a black and white landscape image which I made at art school in England and which is partly derived/inspired by Akseli Gallen-Kallela.

This certainly surprised and delighted me as I had researched and written a major portion of my written thesis for my BFA Honours on this famous Finnish artist.

I’ve seen and admired Robert Young’s work here and there over the years and most recently in 2009 at the Burnaby Art Gallery. In researching for this post, I came across an excellent and insightful review by Robin Laurence of that BAG exhibition.

So I was sad to learn from him that I had missed his major retrospective in 2011. He has kindly given me permission to use his images and exhibition information to update us on some of his recent work.

This is from the Evergreen Cultural Centre’s website:

Mystique Povera, 2008-09, egg tempera, acrylic and oil on linen. 48 x 59 inches. Collection of the Artist
Robert Young: Lacunarian Picturing
June 18 – September 3, 2011

The Art Gallery at Evergreen, in partnership with the Simon Fraser University Gallery, is pleased to present Lacunarian Picturing, a Robert Young retrospective exhibition. The Vancouver artist, born in 1938, has produced art for most of his adult life and continues to work from his home studio.

The Art Gallery at Evergreen will focus on a chronological exploration of Young’s paintings while the SFU Gallery will focus on Young’s depictions of architecture and interior spaces. On display will be works ranging from the 1970’s, to his much-debated Tart, 1993 from the Vancouver Art Gallery Permanent Collection, to his most recent painting from this year titled, Lacunarian Picture, 2011. (more…)

Then a year later came his Unveiling of Axis Mundi:
LEFT: Lacunarian Picture, 2011. RIGHT: Axis Mundi, 2012, acrylic, egg tempera and oil on linen, 152.4 x 121.9 cm. Collection of the Artist

[At last year’s exhibition] the signature work showcased at the Art Gallery at Evergreen was Lacunarian Picture, a work in progress that Young began specifically for the exhibition in Coquitlam. Now, over one year later, the work is completed and it gives us great pleasure to unveil it here at Evergreen Cultural Centre.

I understand the title changed from Lacunarian Picture to Axis Mundi and you can see both versions above. I wish we could view the work larger in order to see all the details full of stories, so typical of his work. Also, do read Robert Young’s statement (pdf) found on that page. I think it gives fascinating insight into his artistic and thematic process. It is something I can identify with in some of my work where I do not always know what it will be about until it is done. I’m sure some other artists experience that too.

Last but not least, when I asked if he was still painting, he wrote: Oh yes, still painting and doing my best work…. He still follows his own path, true to himself, and is an inspiration for all artists, especially for those of us ‘getting on in years’.

Added MARCH 4th morning: Robert Young has just told me that his work can be seen at the Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art Database. His page is here. Excellent, I had forgotten about this site! (But why did a general internet search of the artist’s name not come up with this site?)

More later in the day: I have just spent an hour browsing through Robert’s work on this site – wow! The images can all be viewed larger. Do especially have another look at Axis Mundi, the very last one! I also love his famous Tart. Enjoy!

Michiko Suzuki: A Feeler


Michiko has a solo exhibition of her latest prints coming up at the Bellevue Gallery in West Vancouver. The opening is on Valentine’s Day, Feb 14th, 6 to 8 pm. and the exhibition continues to March 16th, 2013.

Read about Michiko’s current theme and view some of her older works on Bellevue’s pages.
Michiko’s name and numerous exhibitions have appeared often on these pages — here are links to the most recent:
~ A four person exhibition in the Embassy of Canada in Tokyo
~ Our Institute group’s exhibition in Tokyo
~ Michiko’s previous solo exhibition at the Bellevue
Hope to see you on the 14th!

hand studies




While I continue to work on my Hands series, I am also thinking of possibilities to follow, whether they will be variations on the same theme or something else, I don’t know yet. Anyway, I did some playing with hand scans again with an exploration of tones other than the natural. Here they are in my online ‘sketchbook’ as food for thought…

I seem to revisit hands in my work (and in blog posts such as here) many times and of course hands have been a subject for artists since cave art days. One that I recently learned about thanks to a mention by a fellow artist is Gary Schneider and his fascinating photo series called Handbook 2012. Made by hands’ sweat and heat interacting with film emulsion, these [are] unusual portraits of friends and family…(via Aperture). His work is otherworldy, stunning and thought-provoking.

And I love the thought of my hand images being self-portraits!

on Marly Youmans’ Thaliad


I have recently finished a second reading of Thaliad, called a post-apocalyptic epic in blank verse. Marly’s writing swept me into another world with her beautiful language and her storytelling magic. Here’s one of my favourite passages:

The glare threw flames of dazzle, dazzle cast
Uncanny aura, aura beckoned dream,
and dream was drowned by day and brought tide
Of gold in spilling flood, to flood the mind
Until no mind was minding anything
But lapping radiance, and radiance
Ruled Glimmerglass and flashing form, the form
Of something weird, making and unmaking,
Unmaking Thalia till Thalia
Was empty husk, and husk was packed with sun,
And sun was sealed in trembling dark, and dark
Arose in dreams, and dreams made lucent night.

(from Chapter XVI, page 62-3)

To me, these words seem like waves repeatedly washing ashore. That repetition and rhythm made me think of The Kalevala, a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology.

I first learned about Marly’s book as a follower of her blog The Palace at 2:00 a.m.. And about Clive Hicks-Jenkins‘ unique and beautiful illustrations for it. Edited and published by my friend Beth Adams for her own Phoenicia Publishing in Montreal, it is truly a collaboration between three artists.

I’m no good at book reviews but could not let this go by without a mention and a recommendation, dear readers. For a fine review, please read this.

Last year, I wrote a bit about Marly Youman’s novel A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, which I also enjoyed and read twice. There’s something about her writing that I enjoy reading most during the night hours (2 a.m.?) perhaps when the magic feels strongest.

Added January 26th, 2013: Clive Hicks-Jenkins has posted about “a glittering review of Thaliad” at the book blog Tomcat in the Red Room. It really is fabulous. As I commented, it made me feel relieved that my dismal knowledge of the classics and other related literature did not matter for my enjoyment of the book.

Later: forgot to add that Beth has picked up this post of mine to include in Phoenicia’s blog here. I am honoured to be in such good company over there!

last day of 2012





A few scenes from this afternoon’s walk… how I love the dark lines and silhouettes of the trees against bright water and sky. I love those white clouds and patches of blue behind.

As I wrote five years ago:
I feel some sadness in saying goodbye to another year. Changing the annual calendars is such an adrupt marker of the passage of time and of aging, inducing a twinge of melancholy in me. I’ve sometimes wondered if all the partying, drinking and merriment is a way to avoid looking at Father Time in the eye.

As in most years, we celebrate at home quietly. I think this year we’ll open the Christmas gift of Grand Marnier for a toast at midnight. As always, especially at these milestones on the calendar, I’m thankful for the many good things in my life.

Thank you to all of you dear friends and readers for the past year’s delights. I wish you all a New Year of Happiness, Good Health, Inspiration and Abundant Creativity! Hauskaa Uutta Vuotta! Bonne Année! Allen ein frohes Neues Jahr!

Oh, and should you be looking for suitable art to complement your evening, how about art of intoxication?

And, if in Germany, you’d likely be watching “Dinner for One”, a tradition for 50 years. I saw this last year, it is hilarious! Find it on YouTube and enjoy!