Visual Arts profs create new public art

Two recent new public art pieces have been installed by Visual Arts faculty members in different locations across Canada: For Everyone a Sunset by Robert Youds was just unveiled at the Vancouver Art Gallery, while High Five by Jennifer Stillwell is now reaching for the sky in Winnipeg.

Jennifer Stillwell's "High Five" sculpture in Winnipeg

Jennifer Stillwell’s “High Five” sculpture in Winnipeg

Stillwell’s large-scale, site-specific commission High Five was recently installed on Waterfront Drive over the left field wall of Winnipeg’s baseball park. Standing 25 feet tall, seven feet wide and six inches deep—but designed to offer a bit of an optical illusion—High Five was designed to resemble either wings, fins in formation, an abstracted human hand . . . or even a baseball glove.

“I wanted to create an artwork where image and meaning are not fixed but flexible with changes in perspective and movement,” says Stillwell. “Even though the size of each the pieces are the same, I worked with the slope in order to create the shape of a human hand from a distance.”

"Hit for the sculpture!" Stillwell's piece in context of the baseball diamond

“Hit for the sculpture!” Stillwell’s piece in context of the baseball diamond

As for the “targets” on the sculpture, the artist says they have multiple meanings: abstract fingerprints, roundels on an airplane wing, archery targets, advertising graphics and, of course, actual targets. “They playfully address the baseball diamond and the home run potential of hitting the art,” she says. “A baseball player even hit one of the sculptures during batting practice!”

Installing "High Five"

Installing “High Five”

Talking to Winnipeg CBC in this piece, Stillwell explains that her pieces never have just one meaning.  “With my work I tend to try to play around with images and meaning and just trying to allow people to interpret it in more than one direction.” She also received coverage in this Winnipeg cultural blog for the artwork which was originally commissioned as part of the redevelopment of Winnipeg’s Waterfront Drive; the project has been managed by the Winnipeg Arts Council on behalf of the City of Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, veteran Visual Arts professor Robert Youds just opened his latest piece of public art—a light installation commissioned by the Vancouver Art Gallery for their Offsite location on West Georgia Street (between Thurlow & Bute).

Rob Youds' new art installation in Vancouver (photo: Diana Freundl)

Rob Youds’ new art installation in Vancouver (photo: Diana Freundl)

As the VAG explains, “For Everyone a Sunset draws upon the architectural vernacular of downtown Vancouver [and] references the urban surroundings by using their associated materials—aluminium framework, salvaged glass, LED lighting—to construct a sculptural query that creates a space for audiences to contemplate the urban experience.”

The piece will be on view until March 30, 2015, at the base of Vancouver’s vaunted Shangri La Hotel.

The original concept sketch envisioning "For Everyone A Sunset"

The original concept sketch envisioning “For Everyone A Sunset”

Existing in the space between architecture and design, uniformity and variety, For Everyone a Sunset highlights the intersection of built and natural environments. It measures 30 feet long by 12 feet high and 10 feet wide.

“Shifting tonality as it moves through laminate coloured glass, the light in Youds’ work captures our gaze and holds it suspended, suggesting a plenitude of possibilities amidst the

Constructing the piece

Constructing the piece

regularity of the urban grid,” says VAG assistant curator Diana Freundl.

As part of the commission, Youds also gave an artist’s talk on October 25, addressing the range of materials generally in his work and specifically with this  installation. VAG’s Offsite is funded by the City of Vancouver through the Public Art Program.

Education, Bangkok-style

Featured

From November 3 to 9, UVic will be celebrating International Education Week. Showcasing the significant contribution international education makes to our social, economic, and cultural well-being, IEW also supports Canada’s ongoing efforts to engage on the international stage.

Like to travel? Check out our exchange with Bangkok U (photo: Allan Stichbury)

Like to travel? Check out our exchange with Bangkok U (photo: Allan Stichbury)

Fine Arts will, of course, be participating in IEW. The Department of Theatre will be offering a panel discussion about their current student exchange between Bangkok University and Phoenix Theatre which was announced last year.

“There’s actually a lot of synchronicity between us,” Theatre professor Allan Stichbury said at the time. “Both departments are similar in size and have similar goals and objectives, balancing a sophisticated academic program alongside a very active production program—and both departments have very active Applied Theatre programs. The three prongs we have are the same as what they’ve got, which is actually remarkably rare.”

Learn more about Theatre’s student exchange with Bangkok University at the IEW panel discussion running from 12:30pm -1:30pm Wednesday, November 5, in Phoenix’s Roger Bishop Theatre.

IEW is packed full of information about international opportunities, and affords the chance to hear stories of international experiences and meet some of UVic’s international students and researchers from around the globe. Click here to read the full list of events—including info sessions about work & study abroad programs, film screenings, other panel discussions and more.

Theatre PhD Matthew Gusul (centre) at the field school in India

Theatre PhD Matthew Gusul (centre) at the field school in India

And you can find out more about Theatre’s other international initiatives by reading about PhD candidate Matthew Gusul, who is currently busy over in India running his intergenerational field school with 13 undergrads. (Be sure to watch this fun slide show of their first few weeks in India.)

Paphavee (Poe) Linkul, former UVic student and Bangkok University professor, with Allan Stichbury

Paphavee (Poe) Linkul, former UVic student and Bangkok University professor, with Allan Stichbury

The Department of Theatre’s exchange with Bangkok University was actually initiated by Theatre MFA and current Bangkok U faculty member Paphavee (Poe) Linkul. Intended to be a step towards internationalizing their university, Stichbury says, “This is not intended to remain simply an agreement between our Theatre department and their Performing Arts department; it’s intended to grow into a real relationship with Bangkok University.”

As the world gets smaller, UVic’s place in it keeps growing.

The colour of love

We all know the colour of money and the colour of jealousy, but leave it to acclaimed Department of Theatre design professor Mary Kerr to bring us the colour of love.

If you're in Toronto, don't miss Bella

If you’re in Toronto, don’t miss Bella

Kerr’s new play, Bella: The Colour of Love, debuts at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts’ Greenwin Theatre on October 15. Better still, the run is over 85% sold out, with two extra performances added already.

Inspired by the life of Bella Chagall—the writer, actress, scholar and revolutionary who was also the great love and creative muse for her famous husband—Bella is an intricate poetic look at the nature of love and creativity told through words and song, against the backdrop of Marc Chagall‘s colourful paintings. Written by Kerr and Theresa Tova, who also stars in the production, Kerr also (not surprisingly) did the production design for both this and the original 2011 cabaret, commissioned by the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts.

But the origins of Bella actually go back more than 30 years earlier, when a mutual Interest in Chagall led Kerr and choreographer Danny Grossman to create the show’s first incarnation in 1976. Danced to the music of Puccini on a painted horse in a bower of lilacs, this early Bella was described as “a satisfying, haunting and poetic observation about love and death.”

A scene from the original production of Bella

A scene from the original production of Bella

After standing ovations and four sold-out houses in 2011, Kerr and her artistic team began taking the production to its next stage. When approached to present a 30-minute segment at the Art Gallery of Ontario in conjunction with their 2011 exhibit Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde, choreographer Grossman was asked to come back on board (and he’s still the choreographer of this latest version of the show, also featuring music composed and performed by Matt Herskowitz). An expanded one-hour version then played at the Singer Festival in Warsaw Poland and the full two-act production appeared at Halifax’s Dalhousie University in fall 2013. This current Toronto production, however, offers a revamped theatrical run, complete with new paintings, costumes and musical numbers.

MaryKerr-NatPost-14Oct14As Tova tells the National Post in this article, she and Kerr “researched the life of this ‘unrealized artist’ in part to tell ‘the story of women, especially at that time, when Jews were not allowed to go to university’.” You can also read more about Bella in this piece from the Canadian Jewish News. This also marks the second play written by lifelong friends Kerr and Tova, following the success of their Holocaust musical Still the Night.

In the last decade of her life, Bella Chagall—born Berta Rosenfeld (1889-1944)—wrote a series of memory stories in Yiddish, the poetic and visually rich language of her youth. Chagall said of her writing: “She wrote as she lived, as she loved, as she greeted her friends. Her words and phrases were a wash of colour over the canvas.” These two published collections are the parallel poetic stories to Chagall’s paintings and drawings; together they constitute what we believe to be an intricate poetic dance between two friends about the nature of love and creativity.

A good sign: Bella in Toronto

A good sign: Bella in Toronto

“We feel their love—steeped in Hasidic traditions and imagery of 1909, their time in revolutionary Moscow, their life in Paris, escape to America and her subsequent death there—to be a back drop to the real story: a poetic discussion of what it is to be creative artists in the 20th century,” writes Kerr about the show. “Bella was a brilliant scholar, a privileged modern woman who went to university and also studied acting. The idea that she studied with Stanislavsky in Moscow while he studied design with Leon Bakst in St Petersburg, place these two young people at the epicenter of creative constructivism and cubism in the early years of the century.”

(Interesting side-note: Kerr was originally introduced to Chagall when her painting teacher accused her of copying his style in the first oil painting she ever made. She was mortified, but went on to write her thesis on Chagall and his Hasidic influences.)

Mary Kerr in her office at UVic

Mary Kerr in her office at UVic

Kerr has forged a celebrated career as a production designer in Canadian and
International theatre, dance, opera, feature film, television, exhibition and special events design. Her stage design has been described as“ kinetic sculpture on stage” and is characterized by experimentation with architectural concepts, scale, imaginative materials and colours, nonrealism and often satiric cultural commentary on the human condition through her unique sets and costumes.

She has created for the Canadian Opera Company, The Vancouver Opera, The Banff Opera of the Twentieth Century, Pacific Opera Victoria and The New Zealand Opera. In
1994, Kerr designed the internationally televised Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games in Victoria. For Expo 86 she designed the First Theatre and
production in the Canadian Pavilion.

Mary Kerr, illustration of a costume designed for Copper Thunderbird (Legacy Gallery)

Mary Kerr, illustration of a costume designed for Copper Thunderbird (Legacy Gallery)

Among her dance commissions are productions for the Paris Opera Ballet, NYC Dance Umbrella, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, The Florida Ballet and 28 pieces for The Danny Grossman Dance Theatre Company in Toronto, New York
and Europe. In 2008, she was the subject of Copper Thunderbird at UVic’s Legacy Gallery, a groundbreaking exhibit which paired Ms. Kerr’s costume plates, model, built costumes, process photographs and nationally broadcast video of the production with Norval Morrisseauʼs (Copper Thunderbird) paintings.

Named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2010, Kerr is the only scenographer to be so elected. A member the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, her work is housed in many collections including The Mary Kerr Collection at the Metro Toronto Library and The
Paris Opera Archival Museum. She was nominated for British Columbia Distinguished Academic of the Year Award in both 2003 and 2004.

Mary Kerr's bold design for Eurydice at the Phoenix in 2012 (photo: David Lowes)

Mary Kerr’s bold design for Eurydice at the Phoenix in 2012 (photo: David Lowes)

Kerr is also one of 10 Canadian designers judged to be included in the 2012 publication World Scenography: 1975-1990, as well a featured designer in the first published book on Canadian stage design Scenography in Canada (2004). A Bravo Fact Film Mary Kerr: the Creative Process has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and she is profiled in the 2008 Banff Centre publication Inspiring Creativity: 75 Years of Creation at the Banff Centre.

Kerr has taught at tUVic’s Theatre department since 1998, teaching general, directed and graduate studies in the aesthetics, design, history of scenography and culture, costume design and costume history. She continues to create bold designs for the Phoenix stage.

 

Is that meant to be funny?

If you think there’s nothing funny about censorship, Mark Leiren-Young would like to change your mind. A prolific freelance journalist, screenwriter, playwright, memoirist and award-winning author, Leiren-Young is this year’s Harvey Stevenson Southam Lecturer in Journalism and Nonfiction for the Department of Writing. And while his current Writing course Finding the Funny focuses on humour writing, his upcoming public lecture will examine the fine line between comedy and censorship.
Mark Leiren-Young is the latest Southam Lecturer

Mark Leiren-Young is the latest Southam Lecturer

“I’m fascinated by the question of, ‘Where’s the line?’,” says Leiren-Young. “What can you make fun of? What can’t you make fun of? What’s taboo? How soon is too soon?” By way of example, Leiren-Young looks east to Toronto’s frequently lampooned mayor. “Rob Ford and his tumor—too soon for jokes?”

As the author of the 2009 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour-winning memoir Never Shoot A Stampede Queen: A Rookie Reporter in the Cariboo and one-half of the long-running satirical comedy duo Local Anxiety, Leiren-Young well knows the fine art of funny. A graduate of both UVic’s Writing and Theatre departments, he is also the first UVic alumnus to hold the Southam position.

His October 15 annual Southam public lecture You Can’t Say That!? Comedy, Censorship and Sensitivity in the 21st Century will draw not only on his own experiences as a journalist and performer but also on examples from popular culture to illustrate how the line between comedy and censorship keeps shifting.

“Think about the first time you ever saw South Park,” he says. “We all said, ‘Oh my god, you can’t say that on television!’ And that’s one of the thing I’ve told my class—you can critique anything you want, just don’t tell me it’s not funny. It’s okay to say you’re offended by it, but I’m not talking about anything that people haven’t laughed at.”

After writing three plays about censorship and spending the past 25 years on the Freedom to Read organiztion’s free expression committee, it’s a topic that’s clearly close to Leiren-Young’s heart. “It gets at the heart of what we are ‘allowed’ to write, and why we write,” he says. “Riffing on what’s funny versus what’s offensive is going to make for a great conversation.”

Mark Leiren-YoungThe secret, he says, always lies in context: given our rapid-fire media messaging and instantaneous technology, it’s all too easy for a joke to cross the line. “These 10-second Youtube clips that are killing careers now—all too often they’re taken totally out of context. It’s one thing to be funny in a comedy club, but play that same joke on the evening news…”

As the eighth Southam Lecturer for the Writing department, Leiren-Young follows in the footsteps of the likes of CBC Radio’s Jo-Ann Roberts, author Richard Wagamaese and sports journalist Tom Hawthorn. And, given the topic, will his public lecture actually be funny?

“It better be,” he chuckes wryly,” or I’m already in deep trouble.”

You Can’t Say That!? Comedy, Censorship and Sensitivity in the 21st Century 7:00 pm Wednesday, Oct. 15 in room A240 of the Human & Social Development Building. Admission is free.

Alumni find love at the Phoenix

Most people come to UVic in pursuit of education. Two Phoenix alumni, however, found love and a life together in theatre

“It feels like coming full circle,” says alumna Kaitlin Williams (BFA’09).

Mack Gordon & Katlin Williams in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Mack Gordon & Katlin Williams in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Ten years ago, Williams met Mack Gordon (BFA ’08) when they were two fresh-faced first-year students in the Department of Theatre. Now married, they return to the stages of the Phoenix Theatre for our annual Spotlight on Alumni with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, running October 9-18, 2014.

Update: due to popular demand, this show has now been held over, with two extra shows added—8pm Friday October 24 & 2pm Saturday October 25.

“Kaitlin and I are blessed to work together as often as we do,” says Gordon. In 2012, they were cast as Peter and Lucy in Pacific Theatre’s much-loved adaptation of the classic Narnia tale.

Read more about the pair in this Times Colonist interview. And you can read some of the reviews here, where the TC calls it “enjoyable”, “engaging” and “charming,” while CVV Magazine says “there is much to praise in this production.”

Written and published in 1950 by C.S. Lewis, this novel is the first and most well-known story in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Ron Reed, the Artistic Director of Pacific Theatre, adapted The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for the stage, setting the play years later when Peter and Lucy are adults. Stopping off to tour their Uncle Digory’s house they find themselves returning to the same spare room where the old wardrobe sits and begin to recount all the adventures they had as children. Their imaginations take over: using only the furniture in the room and a few old coats from the wardrobe, they travel back to Narnia—bringing the audience along with them.

A seasonal favourite, Pacific Theatre has remounted this play many times to great acclaim since it first played in 1998. Over the past few years, Williams and Gordon have toured this show across the province sharing the clasic story with many BC communities, including stops at Kamloops’ Western Canada Theatre, West Vancouver’s Kay Meek Centre and, of course, the play’s home: Pacific Theatre. This presentation at the Phoenix Theatre brings the play to Vancouver Island for the first time.

Williams & Gordon in Barkerville

Williams & Gordon in Barkerville

Not many of us get to bring our spouses to work, but for Williams and Gordon, acting together makes their careers more rewarding. They keep an eye out for projects where they can perform together, whether it’s playing fiancés in the Jessie-winning production of The Foreigner or Mr. Jake and Nellie Webster, a gold miner and his wife at Barkerville Historic Town. “We joke that we are a 2-for-1 package,” laughs Williams.

Besides the built-in convenient carpool, working together makes a big difference on stage. “Sharing the stage with someone you already trust completely allows you to take risks that you might otherwise be apprehensive about,” says Gordon. “I sometimes feel akin to husbands and wives who work in the circus on the flying trapeze; our first safety net is always each other.”

Having their show selected as the Spotlight on Alumni presentation this year also means an opportunity to share post-graduating advice with current students. “Our comprehensive education helped get us involved in many areas of theatre, not just acting. The skills and connections we gained—whether backstage, studying marketing, working in the box office, or collaborating with community groups—have kept us working in theatre over the years,” says Williams.

Both actors have busy and multi-faceted careers that provide what they call their “patchwork pay cheque.” Gordon is an actor for theatre, film, and TV and also writes his own plays, works as a director—he recently assisted director Meg Roe (BFA ’04) at Bard on the Beach—and does simulation acting for training purposes. Williams has performed on stages around Vancouver and was also the Community Engagement Manager for Pacific Theatre, where she began right after university as an apprentice. She now finds acting takes up all her time.

Kaitlin Williams in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Kaitlin Williams in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

For Williams especially, this show is close to her heart. As a 12-year old girl, she attended Pacific Theatre’s adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and watching the actors transform into the story’s various characters—from Mr. Tumnus and the Beaver, to the evil White Witch and the mighty lion Aslan—inspired her to become an actor herself. “Not only am I performing in this same play, but I get to perform with my husband at my side, at the school where we met, 10 years later! It feels like coming full circle—times 10!”

—Adrienne Holierhoek

If you’re planning to attend The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, take a look at our entire Phoenix season. For the regular ticket price of just two plays, you could attend all four plays by subscribing to the entire season for only $48. Or, choose just three plays for only $36.

Five for Fine Arts in GG list

When it comes to the really big awards, we always hope there will be at least one name on the list associated with our faculty—or, if we’re really lucky, sometimes even two. Colour us amazed then that this year’s list of the English-language finalists in the Governor General’s Literary Awards includes five people associated with the Faculty of Fine Arts: one Department of Writing faculty member, two former grad students, one Harvey Southam diploma grad plus one Theatre alum!

That’s five, count ‘em, five from Fine Arts out of 18 nominees in the Fiction/Poetry/Non-fiction/Drama categories of the Governor General’s Literary Awards, which are funded and administered by the Canada Council for the Arts.

GG finalist Bill Gaston  9photo Jen Steele)

GG finalist Bill Gaston
9photo Jen Steele)

Congratulations go out to Writing professor Bill Gaston (Fiction) for his new short story collection Juliet Was a Surprise; MFA alumni Garth Martens (Poetry) for his debut collection of poems Prologue for the Age of Consequence and Arleen Paré (Poetry) for her latest volume, Lake of Two Mountains; Harvey Southam grad Arno Kopecky (Non-fiction) for his timely investigation The Oil Man and the Sea: Navigating the Northern Gateway; and Department of Theatre alum Janet Munsil for her recently published play That Elusive Spark, which was mounted here at Phoenix Theatre in 2005.

“It was quite a surprise,” Martens told the local Times Colonist in this interview with the local nominees. “I was half asleep . . . I was really quite jubilant.” And you can click here to listen to an interview with local CBC’s On The Island.

The Governor General’s Literary Awards are Canada’s oldest and most prestigious literary awards program with a total value of $450,000. Each winner will receive $25,000. The publisher of each winning book will receive $3,000 to support promotional activities. Non-winning finalists each receive $1,000.

“This year’s list of finalists contains powerful novels and poems, imaginative children’s books, skillful translations, entrancing dramas and enlightening non-fiction,” says Canada Council Director and CEO, Simon Brault. “They are all meaningful books in which we can, as readers and Canadians, lose ourselves and find ourselves.”

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will present the 2014 GG Literary Awards at 6pm Wednesday, November 26 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

India field school spotlights intergenerational theatre

The buildings may have been repaired, but two key segments of the population in the southeastern coastal region of India are still struggling to overcome the effects of the 2006 tsunami: seniors and rural youth. Now, a new UVic field school hopes to bring a sense of joy to these marginalized people by creating India’s first intergenerational theatre company.

Matthew Gusul (centre) during a field trip to the region last year

Matthew Gusul (centre) during a field trip to the region last year

Led by PhD candidate Matthew Gusul, 13 Department of Theatre students will be traveling to Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, India, to participate in the two-month field school. Gusul, an applied theatre practitioner who has done similar fieldwork in Mexico and Guatemala, has been working with the 80 people in Tamil Nadu’s Tamaraikulam Elders’ Village (TEV) for the past two years.

By positively highlighting the life experiences of TEV residents and the 750 young students of the Isha Vidhya Matriculation School—both of which were created after the 2006 tsunami to address issues of displacement and vulnerability—Gusul will work with a team of Indian directors to encourage these seniors and rural youth to perform their own stories, develop strong community relations and create new lines of dialogue across generations.

Matthew Gusl_India8_smMany of the seniors at TEV were alive at the time of India’s independence in 1947 and offer rare opportunities for living history. But the idea of meeting the needs of seniors is still relatively new in India; in 1947, life expectancy was about 42 years, while today it’s closer to 64.

“India has a new population they don’t know how to deal with—they don’t have old age pensions or facilities for seniors,” says Gusul. “And when disasters happen, seniors are the last in the pecking order of importance. Often seniors tend to get put off to the side in what are commonly referred to as ‘granny dumps.’”

Intergenerational Theatre for Development is one example of the kind of community-engaged research happening at UVic, where undergraduates have the opportunity to take dynamic hands-on learning experiences beyond the traditional classroom and into communities around the world.

Matthew Gusl_India4_sm“Our students are there to bear witness to the process of getting this company up and running and creating the first performance,” says Gusul. He is working with the NGO HelpAge India, which will act as the organizational home for the theatre company. Once Gusul and his students arrive, the company will begin rehearsing with intergenerational theatre techniques used by the GeriActors and Friends in Edmonton, and Roots and Branches in New York City. The first performance will be on November 27, 2014.

Matthew Gusl_India3_sm“I really want to look at how the community is affected by this process—the performance and process leading up to it should be absolutely wonderful, filled with fun and joy and laughter,” says Gusul. “We really use the idea of intergenerational playfulness. You see it on the bus all the time: a young person will sit next to an old person, and the first thing the old person does is make a joke, then they start laughing together. It’s the same with seniors and their grandchildren. That’s what the company works with.”

Following the field school, the company’s Indian directors—Pondicherry University’s Dr. Bala Pazani and Sugantha Lakshmi, along with Dean of Performing Arts Dr. K.A. Gunasekaran as Creative and Cultural Consultant—will take what they learned from UVic’s theatre artists and adapt the model to be culturally appropriate for India.“Even though we have this desire to help, there have been a lot of projects with the exact same motivations that have really gone awry,” says Gusul. “Often times theatre projects with NGOs and in development situations can almost become tools for teaching or message giving—and you can see that in India right now. But we view theatre as more of a process, more about the celebratory nature.”

Matthew Gusl_India2_smKey to the whole project is its ability to survive and grow after Gusul and his students return to UVic in December. “Part of what I’m trying to do is make sure we’re as little involved as possible with the actual theatre work,” he says. “We’re there to support the idea getting generated and going; then it’s about the India community taking it on. Ultimately, it’s up to them—I can’t be too much of a cook in their kitchen.”

While Gusul notes success can be difficult to measure when it comes to theatre for development (“it’s a struggle for our entire discipline,” he admits), he’ll know the field school will have done well by the smiles on the participants faces. “The most important thing is to have one of the best days TEV has ever had, where the entire community is laughing and sharing a generational experience.”

No rest for Paul Walde’s Glacier

New departmental chair Paul Walde is participating in the October 4 dusk-to-dawn contemporary arts celebration that is Nuit Blanche Toronto. His recent video installation Requiem for a Glacier will be screened at University of Toronto’s Hart House as part of the choral exhibit All Together Now. All Together Now will consider the renewed interest in the choir format and its capacities for inspiring feelings of togetherness, communicating shared memory and history, and—occasionally—provoking less than harmonious results. Nine video installations and sound works by Canadian and international artists will resonate throughout Hart House, accompanied by on-the-hour performances by 10 choirs from the Toronto community.

Paul Walde recording on Farnham Glacier (photo: Pat Morrow)

Paul Walde recording on Farnham Glacier (photo: Pat Morrow)

Says Nuit Blanche: “Paul Walde’s massive video installation Requiem for a Glacier will engulf visitors in a panoramic portrait of BC’s Jumbo Glacier area, serenaded by a four-movement oratorio written to respond to the imminent threats of global warming and resort development.”

Walde’s piece is presented alongside acclaimed UVic Visual Arts alumnus Althea Thauberger’s sound piece Murphy Canyon Choir, a documentation of a choral performance developed by the artist and a group of spouses of active-duty soldiers in the largest military housing complex in the USA.

Originally conceived in Paris in 2002, Nuit Blanche is a 12-hour event with a mandate to make contemporary art accessible to large audiences, while inspiring dialogue and engaging the public to examine its significance and impact on public space. Nuit Blanche is both a “high art” event and a free populous event that encourages celebration and community engagement.

nuit-blancheFrom sunset to sunrise city spaces and neighbourhoods are transformed into temporary exhibitions: unusual or forbidden spaces become sites of contemporary art open for all-night discovery and rediscovery, and cultural institutions—from museums to galleries to artist run centres—open their doors and offer free access to contemporary art. Now universally translated as “Sleepless Night,” Nuit Blanche has expanded its reach beyond Paris to more than 25 cities across the globe, each offering its own version of the all-night art extravaganza.

Fellow Visual Arts professor Vikki Alexander‘s photographs were a highlight of the 2012 Nuit Blanche Toronto.

A little closer to home, Requiem for a Glacier is also currently on view through to October 25 at the Art Gallery at Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam BC, and from there will appear at Université Laval’s visual arts gallery in Quebec City until the end of December.

You can read more about Walde’s Requiem in this UVic KnowlEDGE feature.

Walde's "Interdeterminacy" offers art from mushroom spores

Walde’s “Interdeterminacy” offers art from mushroom spores

In other Paul Walde news, his work Interdeterminacy (for John Cage)—seen locally as part of last year’s Visual Arts faculty exhibit Paradox—is part of Open Sound 2014: Sonorous Kingdom at the Surrey Art Gallery in Surrey, BC. That exhibition runs until December 14, but Walde will perform with EMU: Experimental Music Unit from noon to 5pm on Saturday, November 15, at the Surrey Art Gallery. Elements from the concert Music for Mycologists will be on the program, including Interdeterminacy.

New book for Writing professor Lee Henderson

From Blondie to Doonesbury, comic strips have been a mainstay of the newspaper industry for the better part of a century. Now, Department of Writing professor Lee Henderson has crafted an insider’s look at the world of comics in his highly anticipated new novel The Road Narrows As You Go (Penguin/Random House).

Lee Henderson

Lee Henderson

Henderson will be launching the book locally at a special event: 7:30pm Saturday October 4 at Munro’s Books, 1108 Government Street. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

A young woman growing up in sleepy 1970s Victoria dreams of becoming a successful cartoonist like Peanuts creator Charles Schultz, and when she winds up in hedonistic 1980s San Francisco she finds herself competing for newspaper space with the likes of ‘80s stalwarts Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes—even Peanuts itself. But is US President Ronald Reagan really her father? Henderson deftly explores all this and much more in a book that he also rounded out by illustrating his main character’s fictional comic strip, Strays.

book-U6-A146-B319-R493“The way it started for me is just living out a vicarious dream that I had when I was a kid in the eighties to be a comic-strip artist,” says Henderson in this Globe and Mail interview. “As soon as I knew that my next book would be about a comic-strip artist, [I had] the idea that I would learn how to draw them at a professional level. It was an ambition to take [on] something I did as a kid.”

Named one of “the 25 most anticipated Canadian books of 2014” by the National Post, The Road Narrows As You Go is the follow-up to Henderson’s BC Book Prize-winning novel The Man Game—which he also illustrated. A two-time Journey Prize nominee, he is also the author of the short story collection The Broken Record Technique.

Henderson will also be teaching a special Writing department course in January 2015: “Inside the Comic Artist’s Studio,” an in-depth and insider’s look at how comics and graphic novels are made. A study of the early stages on sketchbook with pencil to final inked pages laid out as digital files, the class will look at the unique challenges and opportunities for comic artists when telling a story using sequential illustrations. Not just superheroes, the semester will focus on a range of comics including Chris Ware’s groundbreaking graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth.

History mystery central to First World War exhibit

It’s a history mystery worthy of its own exhibition.

Art History & Visual Studies professor Marcus Milwright with JM's diaries

Art History & Visual Studies professor Marcus Milwright with JM’s diaries (UVic photo services)

When Art History and Visual Studies professor Marcus Milwright began planning his upcoming exhibit The Arts of World War I, he knew there was one item in the university library that he just had to use: a beautiful two-volume leather diary set illustrated with watercolours and pen-and-ink drawings of life during wartime. There’s only one problem: he has no idea to whom it actually belonged.

JM’s World War I sketchbooks, housed within UVic Special Collections and University Archives for more than three decades, contain approximately 130 sketches and drawings ranging from caricatures to sombre images, by a British soldier based in France and Belgium in 1917 and 1918.

“The dedication on the first page says, ‘To my daughter, Adele’ and it’s signed simply J.M.,” says Milwright. “Other than that, there is only the emblem of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, with whom I assume he served. We do know that J.M. survived the war, as there’s a painting dated 1920, and we know he saw active service in the areas of Ypres and Menin, as the paintings are dated and named. But that’s about it.”

diary G&MMedia attention to this story has been brisk, with most major news outlets giving Milwright’s search for J.M. prominent play. Recent stories have appeared in the Globe and Mail, the Times Colonist, Vancouver’s Metro news, the Saanich News and on CBC Radio’s On The Island, CFAX radio, CTV-Vancouver Island, plus pieces on CBC Television, Global TV, Shaw TV and a Canadian Press story that was picked up by the National Post, Vancouver Sun and the Province newspapers. Milwright was even interviewed for this article that  appeared in the famed French international publication Le Monde.

Postmedia websiteIn addition, a Postmedia website dedicated to stories about The Great War is now showcasing a special segment on the diary and UVic’s hunt for the missing diarist. There are also pieces pending on Shaw television and the Saanich News.

Milwright has attempted to track J.M. down through brigade records—but those require at least one name to search, not just initials—and UVic Libraries has no record of where the diaries came from, just that they were purchased from a private seller in Victoria, likely between the early 1970s and mid-1980s.

diary2The library has been trying for some time to solve this mystery as well and is hoping the centennial of the First World War this year will spark some new leads.

Milwright’s theory is that the diary set was sold by a family member, possibly through an estate sale following the death of Adele herself, and he’s hoping someone will recognize either the diaries or the artwork and be able to help solve the mystery. “They’re fantastic images,” he says.

WWI exhibitThe diaries and their illustrations will be a central feature of a new exhibition, The Arts of World War I, curated by Milwright and running November 7 to March 2 in the Legacy Maltwood (at the Mearns Centre – McPherson Library). The exhbiit will offer examples of books, prints and trench art from Europe and the Middle East drawn from the Legacy Art Galleries, the university’s archives and private local collections. Milwright hopes J.M.’s identity will come to light either before or during the exhibition’s four-month run.

“There is one preparatory sketch, which indicates these images weren’t just spontaneously drawn but actually planned,” says Milwright. “They look to me like book illustrations, so it’s probable that J.M. was a trained painter or illustrator before going into the army.”

If anyone has any information about either J.M., Adele M. or the diaries themselves, please contact Marcus Milwright at mmilwrig@uvic.ca.

Arts of WWIMilwright is also organizing a series of weekly lectures—Cultures of the First World War—which will run throughout October and November. Featuring a wide variety of speakers, the lectures will reflect upon dimensions of the arts, intellectual activities, and political life in countries involved in the “Great War.”

• October 2—”World War One and the Remaking of the Modern Middle East,” with Martin Bunton, Department of History

• October 16—”Revolutionary Violence and the War against War,” with Allan Antliff & “The Contrary Experience: Herbert Read and the Cultural Memory of the First World War,” with Matthew Adams, both of the Department of Art History and Visual Studies

• October 30—”The First World War in Film,” with Mitch Parry, Department of Art History and Visual Studies

• November 13—”Daughter of Empires: The Archaeological and Political Activities of Gertrude Bell in Mesopotamia, 1909-1926″ with Lisa Cooper, UBC’s Department of Classical, Near Eastern & Religious Studies. (This lecture is sponsored by the University of Victoria branch of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Consortium of British Columbia – MEICON).

• November 27—”From Ithaca to Number 31328: Greek Literature of the First World War,” with Evanthia Baboula, Department of Art History and Visual Studies

 All lectures run 4:30-6:00pm in room C118 of UVic’s David Strong Building

—A version of this article originally ran in UVic’s newspaper, The Ring