"I am 3/4ths Canadian, and one 4th New Englander - I had ancestors on both sides in the Revolutionary war." - Elizabeth Bishop

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ViewPoint Gallery: Unique exhibition has artists respond to Elizabeth Bishop's poem "One Art"

Photo: The Walker, by Teresa Alexander-Arab

(Halifax, Nova Scotia) - ONE ART at ViewPoint Gallery is a group exhibition of twelve photographers and one contemporary composer. In it, these artists have responded to Elizabeth Bishop's poem "One Art." This exhibition's photographers were selected by an independent jury: Adriana Afford, Robert Barriault, and Anne Simpson.

ONE ART participants are: Teresa Alexander-Arab, Binnie Brennan, Marla Cranston, Heather Francis, Laurie Gunn, Rena Kossatz, Sandy Leim, Irene Miller, John D. Scott, Roxanne Smith, Sandi Wheaton, and Monika Wright.

The composer is Ian Crutchley, who was commissioned by ViewPoint Gallery to create this sound installation. This is the first time ViewPoint Gallery has collaborated with a composer. The artists are local, national, and international, and range from first time exhibitors to artists with considerable exhibition experience. The work in the exhibition is richly contrasting, varied, and all linked together by the poem "One Art."

There will be a series of events accompanying the exhibition. The première of Ian Crutchley's sound installation "How To Lose Things: Lessons From Elizabeth Bishop" will be on Sunday, September 4, at 2 p.m. On Sunday, September 11, at 2 p.m. there will be a panel discussion about the exhibition that includes several of the artists, one of the jurors, Robert Barriault; and Sandra Barry, Bishop Scholar and co-founder of the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia. On Sunday, September 18, at 2 p.m. Sandra Barry will be giving a presentation "Contemplating Elizabeth Bishop's One Art." On Sunday September 25, at 2 p.m. the Gallery will be presenting a reading series of Elizabeth Bishop's poems read by Brian Bartlett, Lorri Glenn Neilsen, Alex Pierce, and Margo Wheaton.

All events will take place at ViewPoint Gallery.

This exhibition is part of the EB100, a year long celebration of the centennial of the birth of Elizabeth Bishop.

ONE ART opens at ViewPoint Gallery (1272 Barrington Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia) on Thursday, September 1, 7-9 p.m. The exhibition continues until October 2. The Gallery's hours are Tuesday - Sunday 12 - 5 p.m., and Thursday - Friday, 5 - 7 p.m.

For online press kit please see: http://viewpointgallery.weebly.com/media.html

For more information contact:
Roxanne Smith (902) 469-9756

ViewPoint Gallery is an artist-run non-profit co-operative, whose members are photographers working together to nurture and promote their artistic passion and the practice of their craft, to exhibit and market their work, and to actively engage in the cultural life of the broader photographic community.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

EB100 ARTS FESTIVAL -- Rev. Dan Gunn speaks on "Home"

[An excerpt from the Old Time Church Service held at St. James United Church, Great Village, Nova Scotia, on Sunday, August 21, 2011. -- JB]

Thursday, August 25, 2011

EB100 ARTS FESTIVAL -- Sandra Barry's Reading -- Part 1

[With this post we begin a video survey of the many events that took place during the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival, held in Great Village, Nova Scotia, August 18-20, 2011 -- JB]

Monday, August 22, 2011

Elizabeth Bishop Festival in Great Village: Fun for All Ages!

Our Truro correspondent writes:

Great Village's William Austin had a great time participating in Saturday's cardboard boat race on Spencer Pond during the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival in Great Village. [Monique Chiasson - Truro Daily News]

It was obvious something special was happening in Great Village on the weekend.

Cars lined the main streets, people packed St. James United Church to listen to poetry and indulge in community meals, while others flocked to the Elizabeth Bishop house and a unique race took place, to name only a few events.

The weekend-long Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival was in full swing on Saturday.

Perhaps the most enthusiastic group of people was the cardboard boat racers. About 70 participants spent three hours constructing the boats out of only cardboard and duct tape. They then took turns racing the rudimentary boats in nearby Spencer Pond.

"I'd like to see more of this kind of stuff," said nine-year-old Marshall Field of Great Village, who was a participant in the race.

The youngster also took advantage of the festival to learn more about Elizabeth Bishop.

"I know she went to my school," he said, referring to Great Village Elementary school.

For more on this story, see Monday's Truro Daily News.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our Wolfville Correspondent Writes --

In celebration of the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary, Musique Royale is in Wolfville at the Manning Memorial Chapel, Acadia University, August 23. The 7:30 p.m. performance is part of a weeklong tour of the province with soprano Suzie LeBlanc, violinist David Greenberg and the Tempest Baroque Ensemble, with guest harpsichordist Alex Weimann. Harry Thurston will recite excerpts from the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop during each performance.

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) is a Pulitzer Prize winner and one of the most acclaimed poets of the 20th century. She spent much of her childhood in Great Village, NS, at the home of her maternal grandparents. Although technically an American - she was born in Worcester, died in Boston and is buried in Worcester - Nova Scotia was the centre of her spiritual and aesthetic universe.

“At the Fishhouses” was inspired by a visit to Lockeport Beach in the late 1940s. A few fish houses are still in existence along the Long Cove Road. Bishop being an acute observer, the poem begins with a detailed description of a fisherman, netting, and his fishing tools. The end of the poem takes us away from the visible, where time and place dissolve and imagination takes over.

The flow of music and words at the concert aims to transport the listener to a new environment through the use of time, melody, harmony and rhythm. Interspersed with recitations by Harry Thurston, the musicians will perform works by Dowland, Purcell, Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, Mozart, plus a Cape Breton and Acadian medley arranged by David Greenberg, and The Silken Water is Weaving and Weaving by Alasdair MacLean.

The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival, August 19 to 21 in Great Village is a gathering of writers, musicians, painters, actors, filmmakers and other artists who will present wonderful readings, workshops, exhibitions and concert performances in celebration of the centenary of Bishop’s birth. The opening concert of Musique Royale’s At the Fishhouses tour is the final event of the arts festival.

Tickets for the Wolfville concert are $20 at the door, students $10. Call 582-3933 or click here for further information.

[from Wendy Elliot's report in the King's County Advertiser and Register, August 13, 2011.]

Friday, August 12, 2011


Rosalee Peppard celebrates the life of poet Elizabeth Bishop (Courtesy Rosalee Peppard and Mayflower Music) www.rosalee.ca

Rosalee writes:

"In November 2009 I was invited to join master storyteller, Claire Miller, at her home for a house concert. Afterward she introduced me to Sandra Barry. We had a delicious chat and when I mentioned that we owned our ancestral home in Great Village, Nova Scotia, she passionately introduced me to Elizabeth Bishop. EB had wafted around my psyche for a couple of years but we hadn’t met. In 2008, I had even arranged a tour of EB House (of which I was previously unaware!), for a couple who had stayed with us and subsequently gifted us with the then new Library of America EB “bible”, which they had worked on.

"In that fateful meeting with Sandra, I learned of EB’s upcoming centenary celebrations which included multimedia expressions of art celebrating EB’s art. Since my work has been to transcribe women’s stories into song, Sandra and I seemed destined to broach the subject as part of the centenary celebration. In an early telephone conversation with Sandra, she said that while her poems had been set to music by many illustrious composers throughout the years and especially for the centenary, to her knowledge, no one had written EB’s life story in song. Her advice: read Elizabeth, not about Elizabeth. The gauntlet had been dropped. So I set to.

"For a year I did EB immersion. I was tossed on the Fundy tides of her dramatic life. My mind was chilled by the depths of her insight and calm wit, and my soul exhaulted by her wealth of our language and its nano-precision. How to paraphrase, to transcribe into poetry and music a literary and lush life such as EB’s? The more I read, the more surprising similarities I found with my own life. My “Peppard People” are from Great Village. Though not as tragic, I had been separated from parents at an early age. I have allergies and like EB anaphylactic to cashews. I am very sensitive; I too have an “artistic temperment”. I have an addictive personality. I Love poetry and literature. I Love music of all kinds. I’m artistic and have a good sense of humour. We met on many common pages of our life books.

"The more I read EB’s poetry, the more I found I became irritated and rather depressed. I felt as if I were riding along the road through her dream world full of shadows of shame and sorrow. The light licks of humour were not enough to awaken my soul of its sadness and sadness for EB. I felt at the bottom of her bottomless glass, thirsting for a reality that had been ever-evaporating. As she wrote to Anne Stevenson, “There is no “split.” Dreams, works of art (some), glimpses of the always-more-successful surrealism of everyday life, unexpected moments of empathy (is it?), catch a peripheral vision of whatever it is one can never really see full-face but that seems enormously important. ... What one seems to want in art, in experiencing it, is the same thing that is necessary for its creation, a self-forgetful, perfectly useless concentration. (In this sense it is always “escape,” don’t you think?)”

"Then I read her prose. I was home. Fascinated. She wrote place and characters from the inside out and insisted I “come in”. I was in my ancestral village, with every one of my senses filled with life. There. Yet there through Elizabeth. She was it and is it. Her song would have to reflect that: that when you go to Great Village, you go to Elizabeth Bishop, and when you read Elizabeth Bishop, you read Great Village.

"I continued and read Elizabeth’s letters. The grounded reality. The solid opinions. The wealth of language and languages. The apologies. The later stark allusions to childhood horrors and hurts. The bitter resignation of connection with her uncle. Then the artistic insights: The love of visual art and many kinds of music, and which ones. A person who filtered life through her acute senses, raw, dramatic earth shaking keeping the most precise, minute, details as microscopic mosaic word tiles with which to express life. And yet, in the flow of her writing, the ever present self-questioning and second guessing. A pervasive sense that there is no ground.

"Then I went back to her poems with her “key” and was enriched. Got the wit. Revelled and marvelled in the imagery. It was if she opened a back stage door and I saw the fragility and the humour of the flimsy, rough supporting 2 x 4’s that were holding the painted Set up on the stage of her and my life. Wow. Elizabeth Bishop’s voice was powerful and absolutely unique. And so, with those seeds, the song began to write itself..."

Monday, August 8, 2011

More about the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival

Travelers on the seashore route that connects Masstown, Great Village, Bass River, Economy and Five Islands have been admiring the stunning flower baskets and colourful banners on roadside poles, and perhaps wondering “What’s the occasion?”

The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival is a once in a lifetime happening that is raising the level of pride for all the communities of the Cobequid Bay Shore. The Festival, August 19, 20 and 21, features many free events open to everyone (full details at www.elizabethbishopns.org) plus writers’ workshops and three excellent concerts.

Volunteers from all of these communities have been planning together for two years to make this festival happen. Joy Laking, one of the local artists, designed the t-shirts and banners. "For over thirty-five years” says Laking, “I have lived and worked in the area and there has never been an event like this that includes all of the local communities. The banners and the flower baskets represent our pride in our area and our willingness to work together to keep our shore a wonderful, beautiful, vibrant place to call home."

Starry Night in Great Village, Painting by Joy Laking
(This colourful and expressive image is the one presented on the Arts Festival brochure and the banners that line the shore road. It has also been put on T-shirts, which will be for sale at the festival.)

Although most of the concerts and readings are taking place in Great Village, the ancestral home of beloved poet Elizabeth Bishop, there is also a full day of children’s activities in Bass River on Saturday, August 20, organized by the Bass River Heritage Society. A jamboree of Maritime blacksmiths will be on hand, forging metal, and providing the ring of the hammer on the anvil. Karen MacFarlane, the president of the Bass River Heritage Society is delighted to host the blacksmiths as a tribute to Mate Fisher, the Great Village blacksmith who moved to Bass River in Elizabeth Bishop’s day. It was the constant rhythm of the hammer that provided stability in Elizabeth’s fragmented world and it is the sound that underlies her most famous story called “In the Village.”

In Great Village, the festival includes a farmer’s market, readings by well-known authors Don McKay, Michael Crummey, Joan Clark, Anne Simpson, Sheree Fitch, Sandra Barry, and Mary Rose Donnelly) and three evenings of eclectic concerts. On Friday Lenore Zann presents a dramatic reading of a play about Elizabeth Bishop, “Running to Paradise,” with music by Rosalee Peppard. Saturday’s concert features Susan Crowe, Cindy Church and Raylene Rankin and on Sunday there’s a Musique Royale concert, “At the Fishhouses,” with Suzie Leblanc and Tempest Baroque. Throughout the festival there will be horse and wagon rides, guided walks and also Elizabeth Bishop House tours. On Sunday morning there will be an old-fashioned church service and a blueberry tea.

The Board-to-Boat Competition challenges everyone along the shore to participate. Families, young people (8 and up), community groups and Fire Departments, even the Colchester County Council, are invited to build a cardboard boat on site in Great Village and then there will be a walking parade of boats up to Logan Spencer’s pond where the actual racing begins at 5 p.m. on August 20. Prizes for the fastest, the prettiest and the best sinking will be awarded! Registration is $20 at Danny Smith’s Store in Great Village, refunded after participation in this event.

And there’s more: a display of paintings done recently in the area on a special artist’s weekend in June, and a book sale presented by Bookmark, Halifax’s beloved independent bookseller. Information, sales and registration can be found at the Great Village Legion. Elizabeth Bishop would be proud of her village, and happy to greet visitors to explore the wonders of the West Colchester Shore.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

News from Truro

Joy Laking

Joy Laking is interviewed by Monique Chiasson of the Truro Daily News about the upcoming EB100 Arts Festival:


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Radical Readings in Great Village at the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival, 19-21 August 2011

On August 20 and 21 a half-dozen award-winning and beloved Atlantic authors will read from their latest work, and in a rare departure from tradition they will interview each other instead of being questioned by a neutral host. There could be fireworks! Olga Milosevich of CBC Radio One will be on hand to moderate, and there is no fee for excellent seats in St. James United Church, Great Village, at 1:30 p.m. each afternoon. On Saturday afternoon, 20 August, the readers are Anne Simpson, Don McKay and Michael Crummey; Sunday’s roster, 21 August, includes Sheree Fitch, Joan Clark and Sandra Barry.

Crummey, Clark, Fitch, McKay and Simpson will also offer writing workshops from nine to noon Saturday morning for budding authors of fiction, poetry and children’s books. At a cost of twenty dollars, this is another rare opportunity and the classes are filling up already; for information, interested writers-in-training should swiftly email ebfestival2011@gmail.com listing their top two choices.

Books are only one part of this three-day Elizabeth Bishop Arts Festival, which includes three special concerts (see the links at the top of the page for information about the concerts), feasts and historic tours. On Friday, August 19, there are events for children, a book launch (Mary Rose Donnelly’s new novel, Great Village, published by Cormorant Books) and presentation of the winning stories from a writing competition on the theme of home.

The winner in the open category will be a long way from home: award-winning poet Moya Pacey is coming from Canberra, Australia, to read her story and receive her prize. Moya says, “I have always been drawn to Elizabeth Bishop’s writing—her poetry and prose. Like me, she was a traveller and lived in a different country from her birth place for a long time but the memories of her childhood place stayed with her always—strong and potent. I am very excited about the award and feel honoured that my short memoir piece was chosen. The piece is very close to my heart. When I wrote it, I found I had such a strong recall of the close and closed community of my birth place that I was able to replay the memory of the night fifty years ago that my youngest brother was born. The memory came straight from what Elizabeth Bishop called the ‘memory machine’.”

That memory machine will be in high gear as the people of Great Village welcome folks from near and far to visit Bishop’s childhood home on the occasion of her hundredth birthday.

Check out the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia website for more details.

Monday, August 1, 2011