Wednesday 29 March 2023

"Lost" - beginning new work

Although the sorting through and purging from the archive of rooftop portfolios and rolls has taken up a lot of my time these past few months, I have also been busy with some new work. In the autumn I received the delightful news that I would receive an Agility Award from The Arts Council/An Chomairle Ealion for my proposal of a new print series Lost. As often happens with new work, I certainly had moments of confusion and despair as nothing seemed to be working the way I imagined. I finally had my breakthrough moment in early February when everything worked as planned and I knew for certain that indeed I had chosen the right medium (contact monoprints) from which to create this new body of work. All of the works are the same size, 12.5 cm x 18.5 cm (or 18.5 cm x 12.5 cm if they are vertical images), printed on Japanese mulberry paper, which is both strong and delicate. The pictures are about memory and refer to lost moments, lost country, lost time, etc. I decided I wanted the titles to give a bit more information about the story behind the image, at least as a starting point.

Even on a rainy day, the bus might be on time

When I was a teen, I went on an amazing government-sponsored youth project, Educanada, which brought teens from all over the country to the capital to learn a bit more about their own country so there were day trips to Montreal, Quebec City, Upper Canada Village near Kingston, as well as local Ottawa tours of the Parliament Buildings, Rideau Hall (Governor General's home), national police headquarters, National Art Gallery, Museum of Civilization, etc. It was great! The thing that really stood out for me, though, was seeing the log booms floating in the Ottawa River past Parliament Hill. It has been many decades since the industry has transported timber this way, hence my inclusion of this image in my Lost series.

Log booms used to float down the Ottawa River past Parliament Hill

This image portrays a memory of my childhood playing with my little brother in the backyard of the house in Toronto’s east end. 

We used to play cowboy games in the back yard

On my first visit to NYC (back in the mists of time when I was at art school in Toronto) one of my friends, who shared a hotel room with me, was dramatising a teenager on the phone and giving me an art history lesson at the same time; I vividly remember that pop art was the topic so I decided to reference Roy Lichtenstein in my title. 

Well, Brad, let me tell you…

I did not meet my grandparents till I was about 9 years old when my family won a St Patrick’s Day competition from a magazine-type tv show in Toronto (as a matter of fact, the show was called "Toronto Today"). The prize was to bring two people over from Ireland for a holiday if you were picked as having the best reason to do so -- 6 of my siblings had not seen their grandparents since they emigrated and 4 of us, Canadian-born, had never even met them -- so we had a pretty good reason to win! I remember before meeting them that summer that I had been incredibly jealous of my friends who had grandparents and especially those who had a grandparent living with them. So when I met my Oma and Opa my adoration was unconditional. Letters that I have from them attest to the fact that they felt the same way. When my grandmother died in 1980, one of my letters to her along with the goodbye card I made for my grandparents, after that first meeting 11 years beforehand, was found in her purse and returned to me.

Although we only met a few times, they loved me and I adored them

I was born into a large immigrant family

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