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Odette Drapeau: La Parole des Pierres

Odette Drapeau, Naïm Kattan, David Cowles, and Clement Roger communicate through poetry, photography, bookbinding and printmaking in their spectacular collaboration, “La Parole des Pierres.”

Odette Drapeau is highly respected in the field of bookbinding. From 1986 to 2001, Drapeau was the President of l’ARA Canada (les Amis de la Reliure d’Art)1. In 1996, Drapeau was awarded the International Trophy of Art Bookbinding (Prix Antoine Grandmaison)1.
Naïm Kattan has received countless accolades for his writing, including the literary Prix du Quebec in 20052, and the Prix France-Canada in 19713. Kattan is also an Officer of the Order of Canada4. The 2006 speech written by Norma Baumel Joseph to precede the presentation of Kattan’s honorary degree from Concordia University quoted Kattan: “Je suis né à Bagdad, c’est réel, c’est mon enfance, ma famille, mes racines. Je suis né à nouveau à Paris, ou j’ai découvert en vrai et pas seulement dans les livres la culture et la civilisation de l’Occident …. Ma troisième naissance, la plus fondamentale, s’est faite à Montréal: une ville qui contient toutes les autres, ou toutes les ethnies, les religions et les langues survivent, mais ou il doit y avoir une langue commune pour que les gens puissent s’entendre et se parler: le francais.”2

Naïm Kattan’s history provides insight into the poem from “La Parole des Pierres” that is currently on display at the Gallery. Although Kattan was born and raised with a Jewish heritage in Bagdad, the oppression of Jewish people in the early 1950’s caused his departure from Iraq4. After studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, Kattan moved to Montreal in 19542. As referenced in the poem, Jewish people have been displaced throughout history. Jewish people were forced to move from Judah to Babylon in the sixth century B.C. for 70 years5.
The photograph of a tree that has been circled by grave markers is featured with the poem on display at the Gallery. Among the stones that mark lost lives, perhaps the tree represents knowledge that is lost through divisions between cultures, and divisions within cultures.


Thank you to the jurors of the 2018 Art of the Book collection for their comments in the Art of the Book 2018 Catalogue. The catalogue is available at the Gallery.

The Art of the Book 2018 is an international juried exhibition of the work of members of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild. Occurring every five years, this international show marks the 35th anniversary of the Guild and will be the only opportunity to see the show in Atlantic Canada.

The show was juried by four outstanding professionals: Betsy Palmer Eldridge, Lang Ingalls, Jan Elsted and Susan Warner Keene who met for two days to inspect the submissions in person, discuss each book’s merit and select the show. The final selections demonstrate artistic merit, technical competence and offer unique opportunity for education in the various aspects of book making. The exhibition examines eight aspects of the book makers’ art: Fine Binding, Fine Printing, Restoration, Box Making, Artists’ Books, Papermaking, Paper Decoration and Calligraphy.

Many of the books exhibit the extraordinarily exacting techniques involved in traditional bookmaking while others are uniquely individualistic. Some are collaborative creations between printer, writer and book binder while others were authored, bound and created by one artist. Many are exemplary displays of the full integration of form and content, with details in the binding, stitching, materials and structure echoing and supporting the artistic expression. Regardless of the approach, the breadth of creative expression and artistry will not disappoint.

Jerene Lane: The Fisher’s Boy

Embossed footprints and rolling waves complement Jerene Lane’s celebrated calligraphy of Henry David Thoreau’s poem “The Fisher’s Boy”:

“My life is like a stroll upon the beach,
⁠As near the ocean’s edge as I can go;
My tardy steps its waves sometimes o’erreach,
⁠Sometimes I stay to let them overflow.

My sole employment ’tis, and scrupulous care,
⁠To place my gains beyond the reach of tides,
Each smoother pebble, and each shell more rare,
⁠Which Ocean kindly to my hand confides.

I have but few companions on the shore:
⁠They scorn the strand who sail upon the sea;
Yet oft I think the ocean they’ve sailed o’er
⁠Is deeper known upon the strand to me.

The middle sea contains no crimson dulse,
⁠Its deeper waves cast up no pearls to view;
Along the shore my hand is on its pulse,
⁠And I converse with many a shipwrecked crew.”1

Extensive European colonization of America in the early 19th century led to the formation of several western states3. In 1849, the famous California gold rush pulled many people to the west3. Thoreau, a renowned philosopher, lived from 1817 to 1862, and was born in Massachusetts2.

The 2019 essay written by Rick Furtak details Thoreau’s philosophical views of nature, and Thoreau’s comments about human perceptions of gold2. The California gold rush was foolish in Thoreau’s sight2. According to Thoreau, seeds are treasured in the natural world over precious stones2.
There are no precious stones in the poem, “The Fisher’s Boy”; the pearls are hidden from sight. Perhaps the boy values the pebbles and shells because he believes they are a gift.

1- https://americanliterature.com/author/henry-david-thoreau/poem/the-fishers-boy
2- Furtak, Rick Anthony, “Henry David Thoreau”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2019/entries/thoreau/>.
3- https://www.britannica.com/event/westward-movement
Thank you to the jurors of the 2018 Art of the Book collection for their comments in the Art of the Book 2018 Catalogue. The catalogue is available at the Gallery.


October 17, 2020 @ 10:30 am
November 14, 2020 @ 5:00 pm
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