Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I Feed You So That....blue by sandra bunting etching


I Feed You So That....black by sandra bunting etching


Not That Many More by sandra bunting etching


Autumn Blue by sandra bunting etching


Joy By Sandra Bunting Sewing on Japanese Paper

Monday, April 28, 2008


rope- clark gallery





The other show I attended was Carole Baillargeon in Diagonale’s own gallery on rue de Gaspé. It was absolutely awe-inspiring. It was giant strangely-shaped sculptures hanging, on wall, on the ground, made from corks sewn together. She even made cork dresses and did a photographic and video installation based on trying to swim while wearing these clothes. I was impressed.


monique beauregard

Monique Beauregard’s exhibition in a local library contained a stunning study of colour and texture in her larger pieces.

Her smaller embroidered artworks demonstrated simple yet striking needlework.


more monique



Diagonale_Centre des arts et des fibres du Québec
5455, rue de Gaspé, espace 203
Montréal (QC) H2T 3B3, Canada

There are centres for all kinds of arts. I visited exhibitions organized by Diagonale, which was created to develop fire and textile arts and support artists in that field. I went to two exhibitions


more fun at espace mobile

Another artist did research on the wife of an historical figure, Lady Simcoe, who appeared to have painted very bad landscapes. The artist paints in the style of this woman and gives the canvasses away when she is finished.
A darkened room held an old wooden armchair of the type contained in an old fashioned office. It has a sliding metal thing in the arm that is hard to resist touching to see if it does anything. When one slides it forward, one is bombarded by sounds of a city street: such a contrast to the almost sensory deprivation of silence in the dark.

The housing market is a strange area to explore in art. Artist Gilbert Boyer, who often applies text in unique ways, this time used photos to mirror the housing market, its supply and demand. Viewers were invited to buy photographs –the first few at a reasonable price – but as supply dwindles, prices rise. That was my take on it anyway although I’m useless at finance. I was going to buy a photo but I missed out on the cheap ones and bought a catalogue instead.



Often the documentation and concepts behind certain pieces of artwork are more interesting than the exhibition itself. This was certainly the case at the show at Espace Mobile on lower Boulevard St. Laurent, curated by Vox, who brought us the Month of Photography Festival. There was a whole loft where one could examine documentation about the artists and the ideas behind their work. There was a computer you could consult for background material and books, sketches and other creations that could be handled and explored at leisure. I spent hours there.
The exhibition itself was also interesting but it is the ideas behind it that makes it so strong. One of my favourites was by a Belgian Christoph Fink who systematically documented poetic walks he did in various parts of the world. He created his own maps and jotted down his impressions at the time. It could be something overheard, the weather, something he saw. Below is a porcelain piece based on one of his walks.


photo fink

Sunday, April 27, 2008



Working through English in the Arts
As you know Montreal is now primarily French. The organization Elan was formed to help English-language artists be better integrated in the Quebec arts milieu. It works to build bridges between artistic disciplines and also between English-speaking and French-speaking communities.
Exchanging information can be of enormous benefit in and of itself. One artistic discipline may pioneer an idea or open doors that can benefit other disciplines. This kind of dialogue can be facilitated by regular public events and an on-going electronic bulletin board. Concrete examples of exchanged resources are co-productions and shared mailing lists. Shared community resources can range from accountants and web designers to publicists and rehearsal spaces. The multidisciplinary nature of ELAN opens up many possible creative connections between artists e,g, musicians who provide music for theatre productions and visual artists who design book covers or posters.

ELAN brings together English-speaking artists from literature/publishing, theatre, film/television, music, dance and the visual arts. It facilitates communication between disciplines and promotes a new face of English-speaking artists in Quebec.

As Elan says, the roots of the English-language Arts Network go back to the Official Languages Act (OLA) of Canada, which guaranteed federal government support for linguistic minorities. “The real impetus for the OLA was to protect minority language francophone communities outside Quebec. Most bureaucrats in Ottawa did not recognize English-speaking Quebeckers as a linguistic minority in need of federal protection, and most anglo Quebeckers agreed.”
“During the 80s and 90s francophone artists outside Quebec took advantage of the OLA to structure, organize and develop their community. Anglo Quebeckers made few requests for assistance as part of a minority language community. The focus of their efforts was to become integrated in the mainstream of Quebec/Canadian culture.”
By the dawn of the 21st century many English-speaking Quebeckers were feeling secure enough about their place within Quebec society to admit that no matter how integrated we become, there will always be special obstacles to producing art as part of a minority culture. Theoretically, an infinite English-speaking market is "out there" but to tap into it without leaving Quebec is not always easy.”
To learn more about Elan, look at:



Sandra and Jean Pierre examining painted manhole covers, one of the more popular Dare-Dare projects.



Dare-Dare believes that it is better to act than to talk. However, it also holds a series of round table discussions on public art, performance art and community art and the relations between them.
Dare-Dare receives funding from the borough (ward), the City of Montreal, The province of Quebec, Canada Arts council and through fundraising activities of its own. It receives on average 140 submissions a year. It puts on 5-6 exhibitions or projects a year. The artist gets a fee, technical support and money for materials. It holds two events per year and organizes two series of conferences.

Interested in Dare-Dare? Go to www.dare-dare.org

Interested in Artist Run Centres in Canada?



A Community Project – A Wood-Fired Bread Oven

Although successful in community terms, the oven project was closed down by the authorities saying it was a danger to the area. “A pity, it made the best bread,” said Jean-Pierre.


Shovelling Dare-Dare

All exhibitions are non-permanent, launches are fun and a report is prepared after each project because ideas tend to change a lot from the moment of conception to completion.



DARE-DARE describes itself as a flexible, open space devoted to research, experimentation, risk and critical inquiry, advocating exploration and diversity in the ways of presentation. Its members interested in the context of creation and answer the need of exchange and collaboration.
I met with the Artistic Coordinator, Jean Pierre Cassie who tells me that his ancestor came from Ireland to Nova Scotia in the 15-hundreds when just 15 as a prisoner of the British Crown. Inter-marrying with the Catholic Acadians, the name got changed from Casey to Cassie. He agrees that Acadian and Quebec traditional music have Irish roots.
Jean Pierre was very enthusiastic about the projects that Dare-Dare has initiated although he admits that getting permits can sometimes be a nightmare. On a walking tour of the local area, he pointed out remnants of past projects (since they are always temporary).
Some of the most recent ventures include a photo exhibition in several different ethnic restaurants with an invitation to eat (at your own expense), urban furniture in which a portable bench makes its way around the community to serve as a meeting, resting, hanging out place and an installation where the artist spends time on the streets: dream listener: (perhaps in a similar way as a homeless person) and asks people to tell her their dreams. She then writes a sign with some aspect of the dream and hangs it in a public place. A winter project was by two artists from the Yukon in Canada’s far north that made designs of snow with their shovels.


Artist Run Centres

There are many artist-run centres in Montreal. An innovative organisation I investigated this time, Dare-Dare, was formed to promote public art. Since the 1985 Dare-Dare has been transforming arts spaces, working with the community in various public spaces and coming up with fun concepts.

Its office is in a trailer on a bit of wasteland near the centre of the city.


japanese paper

Au Papier Japonais is related to The Paper Place in Toronto

The shop:

The importers:

The summit in Toronto in June


For more information on courses and materials, check out:




And this month I did a workshop in sewing on Japanese paper, which I found fascinating. Learning about the different kinds of paper alone was wonderful – feeling the different textures, looking to see how light goes through and thinking of all the different ways to use it. I found the different samples of work the instructor showed us very delicate yet powerful. We tried different techniques on a variety of paper and came away with some lovely pieces.


Odette Drapeau Covering a book with Salmon Skin

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

La Petite ‘Maudite’ à Montréal
March-April 2008

Spring is very welcome here in Montreal The city’s turned mad with the ice hockey playoffs while outdoor cafes have opened, chairs have been put out on people’s balconies, barbeques have made an appearance and the streets are crowded with relaxed strollers once again. It went from parkas to shorts in one week.

I have kept busy at the print studio and the book binders. I have discovered that Odette Drapeau, the head of La Tranchefile, covers books with dried and pressed salmon and other fish skins.

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