Vancouver Writers Fest 2015, The Beaumont

When writer, thespian, and clown Sara Tilley discovered letters written by her grandfather, they inspired her to combine her crafts to create a novel that made space for all her disciplines to interact. Fitting then, that Vancouver’s Open Book Art Collective curated a diverse exhibition that reflects the narrative voice Tilley so wholly inhabited and delivered.

Taking place between the late 1800s and early 1900s, Duke is full of chronological time jumps as it weaves a narrative that simultaneously withholds and reveals the secrets and struggles of William Marmaduke Tilley and his family through recorded journals.  

The artists of Open Book Art Collective seek to fill in some of the gaps visually, including their own narratives through their mediums to bring a dialogical depth to Tilley’s literary work. Andrea’s anthropomorphic portraits speak of the residual effects that the passage of time has in the physical. Cara’s charcoal series explores Duke’s search for identity through the rugged Canadian landscape and his connection, or lack thereof, to his true self. Katrina’s installation seeks to close the physical and emotional distance between loved ones – a tender act of reconciliation and a desire for connection and clarity. Laura creates a method of menial mark-making that becomes a strikingly beautiful act of remembrance. Bre draws on the romance of the handwritten letter. Here there is a connection of a different sort, the tangible embodiment of the interior self. In the diptych entitled Wet Sin, Mahla encodes and censors two viscerally charged words. With both of these artists, what is left unsaid holds equal weight to the written word. Jenny’s video piece recalls the tension between futility and belonging. Her work examines the underbelly of nostalgia and how the past can become a fearfully liminal place. 

We hope that you, dear viewer, will also find a space where you can enter into the story.