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

Saturday, July 4, 2020

What people are saying about “Two Arts”

I love Natallia's ability to capture Bishop's sense of agonised fun (Robert Lowell called it her "sorrowing amusement"). Our awareness of the many sadnesses of Bishop's life sometimes leads us to forget this playful side. But it's alive and well in all of her illustrations, each of which make us aware how important childhood and children's tales were to Bishop's grown-up writing. In fact, looking at these illustrated poems, you realise how much Bishop delights in the silliness of measuring up experience according to scale and size. To grow up is not necessarily to become wiser.

Jonathan Ellis, Sheffield, United Kingdom

Playful, witty, and punchy in black and white, Natallia's drawings are such a lovely visual representation of Bishop's words.

Emma FitzGerald, Victoria, B.C

Right from the first one — the fridge magnet — Awful but Cheerful — I’ve found them delightful and could hardly wait for her next interpretation. I love the leap from one expressive form to another, words to images in this case. There is the occasional dog, lots of birds and a whimsical image for each succinct phrase. Unmistakably Elizabeth Bishop words, the images let us hone in on that moment, linger or take us aback, but all are “us”. All are us, the thin shanked, grinning gal in the polka dot shift.

Susan Kerslake, Halifax, N.S.

Every one of the drawings in the series, Two Arts, makes me smile and remember.  I ended up choosing two, each for its own reason.  Song for the Rainy Season:  this was the poem that introduced me to Elizabeth Bishop, when I was asked to read it at a concert about EB, a concert of song and poetry.  The result was a discovery that has stretched my mind and heart.  And Manners: I’ve always loved this poem for its whimsy and its kindness. Last fall I spent time with a friend as she endured chemo and I would read to her.  One day I selected several of Bishop’s poems.  Manners made my friend laugh out loud and let her forget, even briefly, why she was hooked up to tubes in a big chair.

So yes, smiles and memories, but also I love the way Natallia Povaliayeva has interpreted Bishop’s words. Her own affection for the poetry shines through.  Yet the simplicity of her black and white technique has left room for each viewer to find personal meaning and pleasure.

Claire Miller, Halifax, N.S.

("Dear, My Compass" print hanging in the dining room
of the Elizabeth Bishop House in Great Village, N.S.
Photo by Laurie Gunn.)

I purchased three black and white drawings by Natallia Povaliayeva, each illustrating a poem by Elizabeth Bishop. I “love them all,” but I want to talk about “Manners.” Each time I read the poem, I join the young EB sitting with her grandfather. Now I can read the poem aloud and pause to look at Natallia’s drawing, as we move along. "Thank you," Natallia and EBSNS!

Sally Middlebrooks, Lunenburg, N.S.

These drawings are delightful, each more so than the other! Two of them, “The Moose” and “Manners,” represent poems I know, love and have read many times. My favourite of the three, perhaps, is the third, inspired by “The Filling Station.” I didn’t know this poem. Natallia's image evoked childhood memories, and I knew I wanted to find out more. I read the poem and was taken back to a very vivid memory, driving in the back seat of the family car, early 60's, past the ESSO Station in Bathurst, New Brunswick. My sister and I would sing out E-S-S-O...., S-O..., So.... Thank you EB. Thank you Natallia.

Wenda MacDonald, Halifax, N.S.

{There are still framed and unframed prints for sale. Go to the fund-raiser section below to see how you can purchase them. As more responses come in, I will be posting them here. Thanks to those who have already purchased and responded to Natallia's delightful drawings.}