The topic, Compassion Under Contemporary Conditions, really inspired me and I was thrilled that I would have opportunity to hear Margaret Atwood speak as I find her very entertaining, closely linked to family and very very smart.
At home, I shot about loading easel, panel and STUFF into the car. At the U of C, I was met, early, by Allan Rosales who made the invitation for me to submit my artistic intention a week earlier. Allan was helpful and very gracious. I also met Zareen and friend, from the University visual arts department, as they displayed a beautiful art exhibit based on compassion. It wasn’t long and I was settled alongside artists Mark Vazquez-Mackay and Rebecca Zai. As the day opened up, Mark seemed to be painting the various layers and facets of compassion and his piece was breath taking. Rebecca was working from a photo reference that she had taken while on one of her international travels, a person demonstrating care for the ordinary street cats of his village. Again, a beautiful painting!
Photo Credit: Allan Rosales painting by Mark Vazquez-Mackay Sunday, May 29, 2016
Hmmm…doesn’t seem I have a completed painting by Rebecca in my photo archives. I’ll grab one and post later.
It was a blessing day, as it revealed itself. I thought it was very gracious of both Shane and Graham to come and introduce themselves and chat a little about art and life. While my painting was not completed by end of day, there were a lot of different feelings that I moved through in the process and I was very excited to begin the journey of painting a body of work based on British Home Children that I’ve been researching for probably, WAY TOO LONG. I interviewed descendant, Janet Fair, such a long time ago. Her grandfather, Sidney Emms Prodgers, was about to become my very first subject.
Red underpinnings…the pain of the stories. Gold…elevating the experiences of these lost/forgotten/abandoned children.
Application of Collage bits to the panel…S. S. Scotsman, the ship that carried Sidney, at age of 11, to Canada…facility where Sidney was surrendered as a baby, maps.
The complete biography written in gold…information received via electronic mail from descendant, Janet Fair
Photo Credit: Allan Rosales
Photo Credit: Allan Rosales
Photo Credit: Waqas (Rebecca….last name?)
Home! I’ll take Sidney into the studio to complete…so happy with the process!
I was grateful to hear Margaret Atwood’s talk on Compassion…the humour woven throughout, colourful experiences of nurses and health care providers, historically, leading up to contemporary issues, as well. I thought a lot about my sister as I listened. I’m grateful for Valerie Jean Fiset, more than she will probably ever know. She has had a most inspiring journey and I am so proud of her. I likely should have brought along some of my Atwood books for signatures…I’m not surprised that I forgot.
Another blessing during the course of the day was to have a visit with a dear friend, Dr. Rita Irwin. Our friendship began while we both achieved our B. Ed degrees at the University of Lethbridge. She wandered over to my location, along with three of her witty and smart friends, and had a short but amazing visit. Another strong and accomplished woman; I simply loved our shared big hugs and the familiar ring of Rita’s voice and laughter.
Before my recent trip east, I had finished another book by Margaret Atwood…so, before I place it on the bookshelf, I thought I’d make a few notes. This book, Moral Disorder, is a collection of interconnected narratives that span a number of decades. Having heard Margaret Atwood speak at this year’s teacher’s convention, I feel that, again, some of the settings and characters are influenced by the writer’s own childhood and family.
It seems that I am writing on particular themes as I post today, among them, the idea of life snapshots. This book, similarly, captures and sustains the experiences of childhood, parenting, celebration and grief through the development of various voices around Tig and Nell. The context for me, demanded empathy, given a sense of the same collective nostalgia and life landmarks apparent in The History of Love. The following excerpt, found here.
“Dealing with her aging mother, watching her look at her photographs for the last time as she sinks into blindness, trying to tease her into remembering pieces of her past, Nell seems to be pre-visioning her own future. Though there is nothing overtly supernatural in this collection, the author has the art of weaving the teller into the tale and blending the characters into one another’s lives so that the end result is something magical.”
“We are such stuff/ As dreams are made on,” says Prospero, “And our little life/ Is rounded with a sleep.” Moral Disorder is cunningly constructed of the vagaries of memory and is rounded by Alzheimer’s and forgetting. Nell, Tig and Nell’s sister test themselves for failing memory as they ruefully allow for failing knees. There is a moving, evocative story of Nell’s father, after a stroke, inhabiting a story Nell reads to him, of three explorers disastrously astray in Labrador. There is a plain and very sad tale of Nell’s mother, reduced to immobility, her memories slipping away, though living on, briefly, in a different form, in Nell’s own memories. The mother dreams a repeating dream of being lost, and no one, no thing, being there, only the empty sky and a logjam she tries to climb. This tale, like all these tales, is both grim and delightful, because it is triumphantly understood and excellently written. ·
A.S. Byatt is a writer of novels and stories. Her latest book is “Little Black Book Of Stories.”
The crowd was in stitches…so perfect was her timing during the various narratives she shared. Atwood sublimely drew us into sad tales of her ‘worst teacher’ and happy recollections of life with her mother and father. My readers can find the short story Significant Moments in the Life of My Mother in her collection of twelve short stories, Bluebeard’s Egg.
Directly from Wikipedia, this…
Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Atwood is the second of three children of Margaret Dorothy (née Killam), a former dietitian and nutritionist, and Carl Edmund Atwood, an entomologist. Due to her father’s ongoing research in forest entomology, Atwood spent much of her childhood in the backwoods of Northern Quebec and traveling back and forth between Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, and Toronto. She did not attend school full-time until she was in grade 8. She became a voracious reader of literature, Dell pocketbook mysteries, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Canadian animal stories, and comic books. She attended Leaside High School in Leaside, Toronto, and graduated in 1957.
How to pound in a nail
How to tie a trout fly
How to knit (a neighbour taught her this)
How to make a stink bomb
How to clean off a table
How to crochet
How to wax a maple leaf
How to use a rifle
How to raise your temperature.
How mushrooms reproduce
How to dissect frogs
Medley from Oklahoma
Swearing in several languages
Many ways of committing murders (mystery reader from a young age)
The fact that everything is connected to everything
How to light a fire
How to make a toad on a cake with icing
A literary survey Chaucer to TS Eliot
Grammar to engineering students
Classical Literature and American Romanticism
“ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU TEACH IS YOU.”
If you haven’t attended the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival, this is something you may really find inspiring and give you the impetus to make affirmative action in a whole number of ways. Each film is followed by a conversation between audience members and conversation leaders, typically experts in an area related to the film. Last night’s film was Surviving Progress. Potent and relevant, I left feeling a need to set more limits to my consumption and to try to influence the same in others.
“Every time history repeats itself the price goes up.”
Surviving Progress brings us thinkers such as Stephen Hawking, Jane Goodall, David Suzuki, Margaret Atwood, Jim Thomas and many more who provide warnings, suggest solutions, and offer hope as to how the dangerous path we the world is on can move towards a more sustainable future.
Inspired by Ronald Wright’s bestseller, A Short History of Progress, SURVIVING PROGRESS, exposes the grave risks we pose to our own survival in the name of progress. The film shows how civilizations are repeatedly seduced and destroyed by “progress traps” – alluring belief systems around human advancement (technology, economics, consumption, and environment) that serve immediate needs, but ransom the future with long term consequences. While there is an extraordinary range of goods and services available on the world market, there is also increased pressure on a dwindling supply of non-renewable natural resources, a damaged environment, a faltering global economy, and large parts of the world are demanding higher standards of living in the face of bankrupt nations. Has the world become a victim of its own desire for progress?
Introduced during the session, were a whole list of book titles…I will definitely be perusing these.
“Instead of thinking that nature is this huge bank that we can just, this endless credit card that we can just keep drawing on, we have to think about the finite nature of that planet and how to keep it alive so that we too may remain alive. Unless we conserve the planet, there isn’t going to be any “the economy”.”
Enio Beatasawmill owner
“The people responsible for destroying the Amazon are the big farmers, the international corporations. The biggest farmers are senators, deputies, colonels. They’re the ones destroying the Amazon forest. Them. Not us.”
Colin Beavanwriter / engineer / director – No Impact Project
“… before I go around trying to change other people, mabye I should look at myself and change myself and keep my side of the street clean.”
Chen Changnianprofessor / Cheng Ming’s father
“Of course there have been some problems as well, for example, the environment.”
Chen Mingself-driving tour guide
“I’m like the monk, the master, I’m leading the members to the West, to find out the real meaning of life, to reach true enlightenment.”
Victor Zhikai Gaodirector, China Association of International Studies
“We need to go onto a path of growth and China needs to modernize and industrialize…”
“Arguably, we are the most intellectual creature that’s ever walked on planet Earth. So how come, then, that this so intellectual being is destroying its only home ?”
Stephen Hawkingtheoretical physicist
“We are entering an increasingly dangerous period of our history. But I’m an optimist.”
Michael Hudsoneconomic historian / former Wall Street economist
“Progress has meant: ”You will never get back what we take from you”. That’s what brought on the Dark Ages and that’s what’s threateting to bring in the Dark Ages again.”
Simon Johnsonformer chief economist International Monetary Fund
“The bankers can’t stop themselves. It’s in their DNA, in the DNA of their organizations, to take massive risks, to pay themselves ridiculous salaries and to collapse…”
Mark Levinegroup leader – China Energy Group
“What is progress ? I think… that’s too hard a question.
Gary Marcuscognitive psychologist
“One thing to remember of course about the human mind, is that it’s not that fundamentally different from say, the brain of a chimpanzee.”
Kambale MusavuliFriends of the Congo
“What is interesting is all the money plundered from all the international debts is found in Western banks.”
Daniel Povinellibehavioural scientist
“If humans go extinct on this planet, I think what’s going to be our epitaph on our gravestone is “why” ?.”
Marina Silvasenator & former Minister of the Environment, Brazil
“It is impossible to defend models that cannot be universally applied because we would have to start from a premise that some people have rights and some don’t. Thus there is no technological problem, but an ethical one.”
Vaclav Smilglobal energy expert
“We have to use less.”
David Suzukigeneticist / activist
“Money doesn’t stand for anything and money now grows faster than the real world. Conventional economics is a form of brain damage.”
Raquel Taitson-Queirozenvironmental police officer, IBAMA
“… I thought that I could defend my ideas, my ideals, if I was an inspector. What I can do is so small compared to what is going on right now.”
The students of Jeanne Silva Martin’s class, Escola Fabiano Losvano,Sao Paulo, Brazil
“BOY: When I watch the news on TV, I see that they are deforesting the Amazon and I don’t understand why…
TEACHER: What are the interests behind it?
The townspeople of Colniza,Mato Grosso State, Brazil
“This is our life! The forest is like a mother giving milk to her child. Do you have an Amazon forest in your country ?”
Jim Thomasactivist / ETC GROUP
“… the engineers can try to treat life as though it was some sort of computer or engineering substrate, but ultimately the microbes are gonna end up laughing at them, that life doesn’t work like that.”
J. Craig Venterbiologist / CEO Synthetic Genomics
“By changing and taking over evolution, changing the time course of evolution, and going into deliberate design of species for our own survival at least gives us some points of optimism that we have a chance to control our destiny.”
Robert Wrightauthor / journalist
“… half of being God has just been handed to us and then the question is whether we’ll master the other half of being God, the moral half.”
“… we are running 21st century software, our knowledge, on hardware that hasn’t been upgraded for 50,000 years, and this lies at the core of many of our problems.”