Friday, September 30, 2016

Mothers and daughters walk across the High Level Bridge

As a newlywed in 1946, Mom was afraid to walk across the High Level Bridge with Dad. On a fine September evening, I walked across with Yasemin, at her behest. Sadly, my mother neither met my husband nor saw her granddaughter. She died before we were married and our daughter was born.

"Mompy should be here," I said. 

"She is." My daughter was referring to the picture I'd shown her earlier. I'd photographed an old photo and had it on my cellphone: a nice image of the grandmother she never met. Oddly enough, the High Level Bridge opened in 1913, the year of my mother's birth.

It felt good to make that journey, all three of us. Below, Yasemin demonstrates the use of the Sit and Chill Bench, where we rested before the return trip. It's located near the entrance to the University, the Highlevel Diner, and the High Level Streetcar crossing. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The perspective from inside the clock

"Which way do the clock hands turn?" asked Dilly Knox, the legendary Bletchley Park codebreaker.

"Clockwise, of course," replied one of Dilly's fillies, (as the girls who worked for him were called.)

"Not if you're inside it!" was the triumphant response of the boss.

This clock, at MacEwan University in Edmonton, illustrates his point. The face is a transparent window, so you can stand behind it and see the hands move.

From this perspective, they do seem to move anticlockwise. Life is a matter of perspective.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rain shadow principle as observed from the train

The weather was dry in Jasper, and a big machine came alongside the train to wash the high windows of the Observation Car. Rain started on the west side of the Rockies, and continued till we got to the coast.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Craig Shemilt delivers the scoop on publishing at WORD

WORD Vancouver went ahead in spite of recent flooding at the library. Canadian Authors Vancouver sponsored a workshop by Craig Shemilt of Island Blue/Printorium.

Cheering news is that "the book in alive and well today," with print books accounting for 79% of sales, up from 70% a couple of years ago. Sales of ebooks, once considered a threat to print books, are dropping fast, except in China where this trend is reversed.

The talk encompassed the nuts and bolts of book production: digital versus offset printing, spine readability, paper choices, colour and inks, back cover blurb with a focus on the opening sentence, free versus commercial fonts, bleed margins, ISBN and CIP codes, and the high cost of books printed in landscape orientation.

Craig also spoke about the essential marketing tasks faced by authors, especially those who choose to self-publish. He emphasized the need for business plans, editing, design and distribution.

President of a company with a century of publishing history, Craig has long-term working history with book publishers and also produces books for individuals. He enjoys tracking statistics and calculates that the 12,000 books printed by his company to date would take about 66 years to read.

Canadian Authors Vancouver was pleased to sponsor this packed workshop at VPL yesterday. We appreciate Craig's sacrificing a dragon boating event to share his knowledge with us.

Autumn colour begins in the Rockies

Mid-September was a colourful time in the Rockies, and the Panorama Car provided great views.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Moments on the train

Left: Crossing the Thompson River in early morning.
Centre: Diner car is prepared between sittings.
Right: Passenger takes an inadvertent selfie while photographing the Chateau Maissionneuve. This car belongs to the original fleet of 29 stainless steel cars built in 1954. All were named after famous French Canadians. Sieur de Maissonneuve founded Montreal in 1642, first called Ville-Marie. With a fort, a chapel and a hospital, the fledgling city had a population of 70 souls by the end of its first year.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Jigsaw of the Canadian while riding the same train

A puzzle illustrating the train we're riding is a cooperative venture to be worked on by any interested passenger. Railway employees too may pause in a lull to put in a couple of pieces. Oddly, I did this puzzle one Christmas, not realizing the historic train was still running.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Sleeping on the train under the full moon

Riding the train, I slept in a Lower Berth as I did in childhood. Snug behind closed curtains, I raised the blind, watching as the train hurtled through the vast Canadian wilderness.

The full moon illuminated wavelets on a dark river, and lit patterns of cloud and trees. As we travelled, the train rocked me into a magical sleep. When we paused on sidings to wait for freight trains to pass, I woke as the rhythmic movement of the train stopped, then watched the long strings of cars roar by.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Watching the world pass from the observation car

Wonderful views can be enjoyed watching from the observation car as the long train passes through the Rockies. These steel cars were built for the CPR in the early 1950s. I enjoyed the view from these high domes more than from the more contemporary Panorama Car.

The inside too, is much as it was when the cars were new, adding a nostalgic atmosphere to the train journey on The Canadian.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

View from the railway siding

While The Canadian waited on a siding, the long freights rolled past, almost too close for comfort.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Canadian rolls into Edmonton -- All Aboard

It's a historic ride in steel carriages built in the 1950s. For passengers, not much has changed. This leisurely and quiet journey allows time for reflection as well as for visiting with fellow travellers. Staff still call travellers to the dining car by tradition: "First call," and "Second call."

In spite of its name, a staff member told me not many Canadians ride this train. However, on my travels to Edmonton and back, I met folks from Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver Island and small town Ontario. Train buffs came from Germany, Australia, England and the US.

Some came to enjoy the ride and others to avoid flying. Among those who came all the way from Toronto to Vancouver, most were retired. After all, this is the air age. It's unusual to find working people willing or able to ride the train for four or five days.

When i was eight, our family moved from BC to Alberta in 1958. That unforgettable journey revealed my first view of mountains, not to mention bears, Dall sheep, elk, and deer. In those days, everybody took the train.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Mask by an unknown artist

The Audain Art Museum in Whistler is a great place to see great art, both contemporary and historic, by indigenous artists, especially those of the west coast region.

This mask by an unknown Git'ksan artist is part of a display of masks in a room devoted to an extensive collection of them.

A portrait mask with a rainbow headpiece, it is made of wood, pigment and tin.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Dance Screen by James Hart

James Hart created this enormous masterpiece between 2010 and 2013. This avant-garde work employs traditional Haida carving techniques, portraying the gateway between the material and spiritual worlds.

Made of red cedar, it incorporates mica, yew, wire, and abalone shells. Hart studied under master artists Bill Reid and Robert Davidson.

This was a gift of Audain Museum Founders Michael Audain and Yoshiko Karasawa.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Moccasin Flower by David Milne

This still life was painted by Canadian painter and print maker David Milne.

The artist painted this in 1935. The flower he found in the nearby woods can be seen between the bottle and the pan.

This is among the Beaverbrook Masterworks currently on display at the Audain Art Museum in Whistler.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Maurice Galbraith Cullen's wintry image of Montreal

Heads down, horses wait with empty sleighs on a Montreal street. Snow falls on the scene, blurring the image of St. James's Cathedral in the background.

In 1918, while serving in the Canadian Forces, Galbraith came to the attention of Lord Beaverbrook, who arranged for him to be commissioned as an official war artist.

Belonging to the Beaverbrook Gallery, this painting was part of the recent Masterworks display at the Audain.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Les deux plages, Parame et St. Malo by Clarence Gagnon

When  Lord Beaverbrook acquired this large and lovely painting from the widow of the beloved French Canadian artist Clarence Gagnon, he promised her it would "hold the place of importance" to which it was "entitled by the genius of the artist."

Painted in 1909, it portrays the dress and customs of the times, including the quaint wheeled cabins people used to don their bathing costumes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Canadian painter Lawren Harris in an early pre-abstract phase

Later Lawren Harris paintings are largely abstract, filled with vague shapes that subtly suggest the landscapes that inspired them.

This is one of his earlier works. Displayed at the top of the staircase in the Audain, it startles the viewer with the sudden sense of witnessing a sunrise in a city of the past.

This is one of several treasures by Group of Seven and many other artists, both Canadian and international, acquired by Max Aitken Lord Beaverbrook for his Fredericton gallery.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Churchill's hands

When the British Parliament commissioned Graham Vivian Sutherland to paint the old war horse in 1954, the artist began with studies of his hands, face and eyes. 

He made these impressive drawings at Chartwell before the oil painting commenced. 

How is it possible for hands to say so much?
Even without the cigar as a prop, these could belong to none but Sir Winston Churchill. 

They're part of a group of sketches from the Beaverbrook Masterworks, currently on display at the Audain Art Museum in Whistler.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hogarth portrait seen at recent Audain special exhibition

William Hogarth (1697-1764) was the first British painter to bring art to the common people. King George II gave him a post as sergeant painter.

Hogarth was a great portraitist. This subject, John Pine was his friend, "a stout and jovial man who held the position of engraver to the king's signet and stamp office."

He is described by artable as "the father of satirical caricatures and moral paintings, a genre which would later develop into cartoons."

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A rare female self-portrait from the Beaverbrook Gallery

The London-based artist is Marie Spartali Stillman, and the painting is entitled "Girl with White Roses."

Stillman (1844-1927) was a Pre-Raphaelite and a friend and colleague of Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and William Morris.

The artist trained under Ford Madox Brown and exhibited at Dudley Gallery in Piccadilly, The Royal Academy in London and the Central Exhibition in Philadelphia.

Part of the Beaverbrook Masterworks, the painting can be seen at the Audain Art Museum until tomorrow.

The date Stillman created the work is unknown.

Original Group of Seven work by Jackson and Carmichael

Before the G7 name was highjacked by an informal bloc of industrialized democracies, the Group of Seven referred to a coalition of Canadian Artists who banded together in Toronto in the 1920s. Using a bold new style, they painted wilderness landscapes and more. Today much of their work can be seen at the McMichael Collection in Kleinburg.

The vibrant autumn scene on the left was painted by Franklin Carmichael in his home town of Orillia in 1924. A.Y. Jackson painted Grey Day, below, in 1935.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Helena Rubenstein stands proud at the Audain

This is a painting of the world's first female self-made millionaire. The cosmetic queen Helena Rubenstein was eighty-four when she met Graham Vivian Sutherland, the artist who was commissioned to do her portrait.

This painting was purchased by the Beaverbrook Gallery. A second one done at the same time shows the subject seated. This used to hang in Mme. Rubenstein's apartment in New York, and she comments on it in her autobiography.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Terror in the ice 1838

HMS Terror was a Royal Navy bomb ship used against the Americans in the War of 1812. This vessel was made to withstand the impact of heavy mortars, making it ideal for Arctic service. Captain George Back sailed it into Hudson Bay on a map-making mission in 1836.

Artist George Chambers was a maritime painter who had much naval experience. He based his painting on the descriptions from the ship's log, published as a book by Captain Back in 1838.

Later, along with the Erebus, it was used in the ill-fated Franklin expedition.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Madeleine graces the walls of the Audain

Two paintings by British painter Edward John are included in this special exhibition at the Audain. The collection, called Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Gallery, remains on display till September 11.

This portrait of Madeleine Stulik was gifted by the Sir James Dunn Foundation. The widow of Sir James, once president of Algoma Steel, married Lord Beaverbrook some years after losing her husband.

The young subject chosen by painter Augustus Edwin John is the daughter of a restaurant proprietor. In the 1920s, John was a frequent customer at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant in London, his favourite rendezvous.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Dali's Equestrian Fantasy later married Lord Beaverbrook

This English horsewoman, Marcia Anastasia Christoforides, was born in 1909 and married the Canadian financier Sir James Dunn in 1942. His third wife, she was 36 years younger than her first husband.

Salvador Dali was a friend, and in 1954 the couple commissioned this portrait of Lady Dunn seated on a handsome palomino horse. An obedient falcon is perched on her gauntlet.

Lady Dunn, a philanthropist, owned racehorses and collected art. Widowed in 1956, she married Lord Beaverbrook in 1963, only to be widowed again a year later. This portrait is on display at the Audain Art Museum in Whistler until September 11. It's part of a special exhibition: Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Gallery,

Monday, September 5, 2016

Masterworks from Beaverbrook Gallery in Fredericton at Audain till September 11

Beaverbrook walks in step with Churchill at Chartwell.

Max Aitken was the wealthy Canadian newspaperman, author and financier who made the Daily Express the most widely read paper in the world. He was elected to the House of Commons, was knighted Lord Beaverbrook, and became Churchill's friend and advisor.

In spite of his many achievements, he did not anticipate being remembered for his politics nor the newspapers that pass "into oblivion in 24 hours."

Remarking that "the labour of age may prove more lasting than the strident achievements of youth or the aggressive toil of middle life," he hoped his memory might be linked with his Fredericton gallery, "a collection of fine paintings ...which may become imperishable relics of our time."