Amazing new genre pushing boundaries

As a family we’ve recently been on a graphic novels kick.

It certainly makes for shared reading, because books can be savoured and re-read within a realistic time frame.  With text intense books, what often happens is one person gets to read the book from beginning to end and then it’s due back to the library.  Or by the time the second reader is well into the book the first reader has either forgotten vital details, or even worse, blurts out bits of plot and ruins the surprise.  “The butler did it — oops, sorry!”

Despite what you might think, graphic novels can deal with tough, adult subjects.  Art Spiegelman’s Maus springs to mind.  I had read the first version when it came out ages ago, but the most recent edition has more material, and more harrowing material.

We’ve also read Guy Delisle’s Jerusalem, Chronicles from the Holy City   and his Burma Chronicles, Pyongyang (North Korea) and Shenzhen

Young Sprout of course is not ready for adult narrative but has been reading the Little Prince series.  These have a steampunk esthetic and a sophisticated narrative technique. In each story the Little Prince and Fox, his companion, land on a different planet and have to figure out how to help the inhabitants deal with their problems — leading to discussions about motivations and character and why he might like some stories more than others.

Lauren Redniss has pushed this genre to a whole new level.  Radioactive, Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout  combines     the biography of Marie Curie with many sidebars about nuclear war, nuclear tests, nuclear energy, chemotherapy, x-rays.  The artwork is done with cyanotype  a     type of sun printing.  (<<<<  this link includes a slideshow of selected pages to get a tiny idea of the book).

Ah, what inspiration!

More to follow on the resulting output — but that’s a post for another day!

P.S.  No, it’s not lost on me that ironically, a post about graphic novels has no image.

P.P.S.  Most of the links are to Amazon.ca (Canadian website).  Readers in other countries should Google to see if Amazon has a site in their home country.

Creepy before and after

Our new home has a backyard, greatly appreciated after so long in apartmentland.  The enthusiasm may wane when the grass starts to grow and needs to cut, we’ll see.

Only thing is, this is part of the deal …

IMG_0002AT LEAST it’s not facing the house, but it’s firmly settled in the ground and not for us to remove (rental).  Young Sprout did NOT like seeing this from the house, let alone playing near it.

First attempt was to place a garbage bag over the top.  That lasted a few days and then blew off into the bramble bushes.  The middle of the bramble bushes.

IMG_0003This is somewhat of an improvement.  From the house, seen in profile it rather looks as if it’s facing a firing squad, and apparently Young Sprout and Pirate Girl have used their rubber dart guns for target practice, although I’m positive they would not have ever seen a firing squad since they don’t watch a lot of movies.

I used some recycled Indonesian cotton that had been used as packing in an international move and is great for surface design, soy wax resist, etc.

Grandmother to Grandmother Activism

Turning the Tide … One Ripple at a Time

is a fibre arts show at the Martin Bachelor Gallery

712 Cormorant St, Victoria

through March 10, Monday to Saturday 10 – 5.

More info from 43patgv@telus.net

The dozens of art quilts made by the North Island Quilters and Guest Artists in collaboration with the Glacier Grannies of the Comox Valley will be auctioned off at a Gala Dinner on March 12 (call 250 532-9038)

A gorgeous catalogue shows all of the quilts with comments explaining the issues which will be a permanent record of the show.  This is available for $30 from germel3@gmail.com or call Gerry at 250 598-7785

Proceeds from the book will go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which assists African grandmothers, women, and children affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

On the back cover are quotes from women of the Kitambaa Sewing Project in Southern Uganda, started by Pippa Moore of Vancouver Island.  Reading  “I have been able to buy a door for my house” certainly put my life into perspective.

At our Quilt Guild we were privileged to be given a sneak peek of all the quilts, but seeing them properly hung was much better.  The volunteers from the Victoria Grannies who were staffing the gallery told me that earlier about 15 people were there at the same time, which for a commercial art gallery is really heavy traffic!

Political Installation ~ Better shot

Here is a better photo of Throne for a Loop, complete with (empty and well washed) Coke can.  Until you try, you have no idea how hard it is to handle an empty soda can without it buckling.  The days when strong men amused their fellow office inmates workers by crunching cans in one brawny fist are gone forever.

Happily when I dropped my pieces off at Tulista Park quilters from our guild were there setting up, and two of them spontaneously exclaimed that they love this one!  I was so relieved I had to hug them1  Whenever I am planning to show anything controversial I always have a speech in my head about “You don’t have to show this, no problems, I can take it away,” but so far I’ve never had to actually give that speech.

Latest Creation

So here’s my take on the Egyptian flag complete with golden eagle.  It’s draped over a throne (actually a camping chair spray painted gold).

To fully appreciate the title

Throne for a Loop

you need to look at the back.  It’s a Moebius strip so only has one edge and one side.

Now I just have to hope that somebody “gets it.”  It’s going into an art show in Sidney and no one but family has seen it as yet.  Feeling nervous.  Doing something three-dimensional is a new departure for me.  I even feel nervous about dropping it off on Monday afternoon, not just the weather and attendant family circumstances that I’m not getting into here, but how it will be received (this is a non juried show, but one of my quilts once didn’t get hung in a non juried show so you never know!)

 

Further musings on art, authenticity, value will follow — I seem to have hit a motherlode of synchronicity on this topic in reading, viewing, and thinking in the last little while.

Even making this had a LOT of synchronicity.  Actually in Tutenkhamen’s tomb they found a surprisingly modern chair.

 

So, feel free to share your thoughts!

Political Project

During the coverage of the Egyptian revolution I was struck by how flexible the design of their flag is, because it consists of three coloured stripes it can be as long as you want.  Now I’m sure there are probably heraldic rules about proportions and so forth, but in Tahrir Square there were some super long ones.

Sometimes a whole bunch of little things disparate elements come together and inspiration strikes.  I’m putting the finishing touches on what to me at least feels like one of these inspired creations, although I realize others may differ.

This has involved a lot of running around, networking with different people to get design hints and how-tos, Dumpster diving for supplies, tweaking the printer to convince it to print in yellow (the eagle on the right is a reject, not a statement about gender or anything!), spray painting,  and even more ironing than a regular quilting project.  I’m not ready to say a whole lot more about this one in case I jinx myself. It’s three-dimensional and I’m just hoping it turns out close to my concept, so stay tuned …

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Celebrating Freedom with installation art

The hours from Thursday morning to Friday lunchtime were among the most exciting and nerve-wracking of my life.

Since the unrest in Egypt began, our family has not had a moment’s tranquillity.  Even without cable TV (a deliberate choice on our part) we have been following broadcasts and blogs online and trying to stay in touch with Egyptians we know around the world, including the relatives in Egypt who were completely cut off for several days as the regime tried to put a lid on the popular uprising.

On midday Thursday (Pacific time) Mubarak was supposed to give a speech.   It was 40 minutes late, meaning that our prayer time came and went before he even started (although we prayed right after so it still counts).  This is 10 p.m. Cairo time, so it was after 10:30 when he finally spoke.

The speech began with patronizing platitudes about “I am speaking to you as a father to his children.”  Then, “the blood of the young people killed and injured in the unfortunate events will not be wasted because I have ordered a complete investigation and I will hold the guilty ones accountable.”   (I’m paraphrasing here and based on what the interpreter said since my Arabic is less than basic.)  At this point I’m thinking, no, wait, this is not good, this is going the wrong way.  After a couple more minutes the crowds in Tahrir Square started growling and waving their shoes, which by now everyone knows is like giving the finger only worse.

At one point the interpreter started one sentence over three times.  I thought it was the interpreter stumbling, but it may have been Mubarak because one commentator said he seemed to be disoriented.

Important to note that in Egypt, State television showed the speech and not the reactions in the square.  And we had to phone our relatives in Alexandria to tell them to watch, because they didn’t know the speech was scheduled.

We were left absolutely fearful that he had outdone Machiavelli, that everything would end in a bloodbath with hundreds killed as they marched on presidential palaces (there are many to choose from), Army bases, and the television building, and that the regime would spin this as foreign agitators and inflamed students.  On the other hand if the people just packed up and went home (as if!) the regime would say that there were no problems.

I left a window to a breaking news blog open and kept refreshing it to watch developments.  Although we’ve probably had a lot more sleep than friends with cable, who have been getting by on two or three hours, I actually stayed up most of the night as I had to work.  Frequent breaks to check on what was happening, e.g. “The Pyramids are open.  But there are no tourists.”

Finally on Friday morning Pacific Time a relative called to say Mubarak had stepped down.  After jumping up and down and shouting and crying we headed out for candies.  No one had dared to hope for any kind of celebration, especially after the disappointment the day before, and of course red, black, and white don’t match the colours of any North American celebration, so we had to improvise.  The white candies had to be hand picked out of the Valentine’s mix (Wearing a plastic bag as a makeshift glove).  It’s installation art because they were loose in the dish, meaning it couldn’t be carried anywhere, except very carefully around the apartment.  It’s currently disassembled but sorted by colour.  I’m hoping for a party or get together of some kind that I can either reassemble it there or perhaps make sheet cakes and stick the beans on with butter frosting.  We’ll see.

Umm Sprout improvised a bag for the candies we took to prayers, using a Body Shop bag which originally said “thank you Canada.”  This is more exciting than a planned celebration where you have time to either buy or make decorations and favours, and it’s unrepeatable.  Everyone is so euphoric, and yet calmer at the same time.  I really see and hear a change in the people I know.  Abu Sprout sweetly said that he felt sorry that I’m not Egyptian, but right now I almost feel Egyptian!