“By the time I finish this story you will have decided to hug the land – the real earth – the trees in the orchard, the timbers of this house. You will have decided never to go away.”
Jane Urquhart’s 1993 novel Away is the seventh book that Open Book Art Collective has created original artworks for. Away traces the lives of four generations of women across landscapes: from the rocky coasts of 19th century Northern Ireland to the slums of Montreal, to the present-day shores of Lake Ontario — emotive, political and literal landscapes that both enchant and devastate the characters. Themes of displacement and connection to land resonate with our contemporary realities of the refugee crisis, colonial legacy, and industrial development pushing the earth to the brink of environmental collapse. These broader themes of identity and place are echoed alongside the intimate details of four women’s lives whose stories form the heartbeat of the narrative.
The artists of Open Book Art Collective have created a diverse body of work that responds to the poetic and cyclical storytelling found in the novel, intending to honour the richness of the literature. Threads of Irish mythology and spirituality weave throughout the corporeal, earthy, and material-focused imagery found in the exhibit. We invite the viewers to contemplate bodily responsiveness to one’s unseen inner forces, the symbols we cling to in order to tell our life stories, the often unknown but intimate ties to one’s matrilineal heritage, and the ever-evolving understanding of our relationship to the non-human world. Whether their subject matter is water, permeable bodies, or personal articles essential for survival, each artist has interpreted themes from the novel according to their various art practices and the way the writing impacted them personally.
Jane Urquhart’s 1993 novel Away is the seventh book that the artists of the Open Book Art Collective have read together. Away traces the lives of four generations of women across landscapes: from the rocky coasts of mid-19th century Ireland, devastated by potato blight, to the slums of Montreal, to present-day shores of Lake Ontario. While traversing lands and histories, Away lyrically explores the complexities of our relationship to the land.
Urquhart’s characters navigate landscapes that both enchant them and prove devastatingly harsh. Away’s themes of displacement, industry and connection to the land resonate with contemporary realities of refugee crises, indigenous rights and the unfettered development that is pushing the earth to the brink of environmental collapse. As an elderly woman tells her granddaughter at the beginning of the novel, “By the time I finish this story you will have decided to hug the land — the real earth — the trees in the orchard, the timbers of this house. You will have decided never to go away.”
The broad themes of place are set alongside the intimate details of women’s lives whose stories form the heart of this narrative. These characters navigate landscapes of family, politics, race, and nation while always seeking to realize their identities as women. “Away,” writes reviewer Tania Glyde, “is a ravishing evocation of the lives of those whose souls are irrevocably touched by nature. It is also, subtly and cunningly, about female independence.”
Open Book Art Collective and VanDusen Botantical Garden present: The Signature Of All Things. Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s epic novel, this art show explores 19th century botany and the convergence of science and wonder. Featuring new artwork by Open Book Art Collective Members: Andrea Armstrong, Bre McDaniel, Jenny Hawkinson, Katrina Stock, Laura Auxier, Mahla Shapiro and Kristin Voth.
Come to the opening reception and experience:
-the beauty of the fall gardens
-activities for children (a microscope with ferns and mosses!)
We can’t wait to see you there!
“The whole sphere of air that surrounds us, Alma, is alive with invisible attractions — electric, magnetic, fiery and thoughtful. There is a universal sympathy all around us… When we cease all argument and debate — both internal and external — our true questions can be heard and answered…That is the gathering of magic.” – The Signature of All Things
*Please note: Admittance to the show is free but you will still need to purchase tickets to go into the gardens.
Join us for an Open Book Art Collective exhibit inspired by the works of The Inklings and their literary mentors. This show is in conjunction with the Verge Conference 2016: Arts & The Inklings hosted by The School of Art, Media, and Culture at Trinity Western University.
Click here to learn more about the conference and purchase tickets.
SHOW DATES: September 21 – Oct 17 September 29 @ 6pm | Opening Reception and Artist Talk | President’s Reception Hall, adjacent to President’s Gallery
President’s Gallery, Reimer Student Centre 2nd floor
Trinity Western University
7600 Glover Road, Langley BC
Laura Auxier, Jenny Hawkinson, Andrea Armstrong, Bre McDaniel, Katrina Stock, Kristin Voth. OBAC is pleased to have guest artists Simeon Pang, Julia Soderholm, and Melanie Colenutt join us for this exhibit!
The Inklings were a group of authors that included C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams that met as an informal literary group in Oxford. They, along with early authors such as G.K. Chesterton, George MacDonald, and Dorothy L. Sayers shaped contemporary literature, particularly fantasy, as we know it today.
Open Book Art Collective is excited to announce our next book, The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert!
The book follows the life of Alma Whittaker, a privileged and reclusive botanist living in 19th century. The book explores themes of love, creation and nature, purpose, and the aging process, among others.
“In her ninth summer, completely on her own, Alma learned to tell time by the opening and closing of flowers. At five o’clock in the morning, she noticed, the goatsbeard petals always unfolded. At six o’clock, the daisies and globeflowers opened. When the clock struck seven, the dandelions would bloom. At eight o’clock, it was the scarlet pimpernel’s turn. Nine o’clock: chickweed. Ten o’clock: meadow saffron. By eleven o’clock, the process began to reverse. At noon, the goatsbeard closed. At one o’clock the chickweed closed. By three o’clock, the dandelions had folded. If Alma was not back to the house with her hands washed by five o’clock- when the globeflower closed and the evening primrose began to open- she would find herself in trouble.” – The Signature of all Things, Elizabeth Gilbert
Have you read this book? Share your thoughts on our Facebook Page or join us in reading it this summer!
We are also proud to announce that the show for this book will be taking place at The VanDusen Gardens in Vancouver in the month of October! Watch this space for more information!