In master engraver George A. Walker's newest work, The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson, the circumstances surrounding the death and disappearance of the iconic Canadian artist are explored through some one hundred and nine wood engravings, creating a work that eulogizes not only the artist himself, but the struggle of the artist's attempt to express himself while constrained by society, the reality of the moment, and mortality.
We all `read' a vast array of images that present themselves to our attention daily. Our world is filled with signs and symbols. Our distant ancestors once read the stars as a compass, and we still study the sky to forecast weather. The surface of the ground at our feet can alert an experienced tracker as to just who or what might be prowling in the vicinity. The earliest cave paintings were inspired by the interactions between humans, animals and the world they shared. These sorts of natural signs and signifiers provided the basis for what would eventually become a multitude of written languages. Our essential need to preserve and to communicate our stories has evolved into a complex system of writing that is rooted in the simplicity of the pictogram. Presented thoughtfully, pictures can still convey information, evoke pleasure or warning, influence behavior and, most importantly, tell a story.
The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson is the second of my wordless narratives, based on original hand-printed limited editions, to be published by the Porcupine's Quill. In it I tell the story of Canadian painter and cultural icon Tom Thomson (1877--1917). There is no shortage of art historians who recognize Thomson as a key influence on the Group of Seven, founded in 1919, and instrumental in the shift of Canadian Art towards modernism. Most Canadians, however, know of him from the enduring mythology surrounding his short life and the curious circumstances of his death.
It has often intrigued me that Thomson chose to avoid so-called `reality' in his painting; though, admittedly, a clearly art-nouveau mechanical approach does appear in the commercial work that he produced for the Grip design firm in Toronto. Canada was undergoing dramatic changes during Thomson's lifetime, and the artist found himself working in the midst of an industrial landscape cluttered with machines and booming population growth -- all coloured by the mounting tensions that would lead to the First World War. Rather than document the grim realities of industrialization, Thomson set out to discover and depict the untamed wilderness of Northern Ontario. Through Thomson's impressionistic style, the paintings from this period communicate at once both the harshness of the Canadian landscape as well as Thomson's steadfast love of the land, now threatened by the rise of industrialization. It was Thomson's relentless search for the definitive landscape that could accurately express an emotionally-charged wilderness that appeals most to us in his legacy. I hope it is deemed appropriate that such an artist, who rarely wrote a word but painted and sketched hundreds of images, will have his story retold in the language he understood best: the language of pictures.
As images supply the means of communication in this book, an understanding of the process of engraving is critical to an appreciation of the medium. I tell the story of The Mysterious Death of Tom Thompson through one hundred and nine wood engravings, carved into handmade blocks of wood. Wood engraving and woodcut were techniques favored by the German Expressionists, many of whom were active around the time Thomson was painting. Though Thomson himself seems to have expressed little interest in art theory, his paintings clarify that he did hold some of the same beliefs as the Expressionists who sought to articulate emotional meaning through a primal response in their art.
In addition to the obvious connection between Thomson and wood engraving, all of the images in this biography were carved into blocks I manufactured myself from Canadian maple. Much like Thomson's own landscapes of choice, wood is an organic material that retains its idiosyncrasies which speak out to the artist through knots and anomalies buried deep in the block's rings of time. The tree I used to make the blocks was very likely alive when Thomson was painting in Algonquin Park where part of this story is set. To strengthen the connection between the story of Thomson and the medium used to tell it, my friend Tom Smart presented me with some decaying branches that he believes fell from the trees Thomson painted in Byng Inlet. I took these branches and fashioned them into the block that I used to make the last image in the book.
One final note, I should mention that I've divided the narrative into two parts, that of the city and that of the country, to mirror the reality that Thomson lead two very distinct lives, which produced a duality in both his art and his personality. When Thomson left the city to live in the hinterland of Northern Ontario, he became fully immersed in the life of the backwoodsman. Leaving his city life and his commercial art job at Grip behind, he transformed. His patron, Dr. James MacCallum, has commented that, `Thomson had but one method of expressing himself, and that one wAbout the Author:
George A. Walker (Canadian, b. 1960) is an award-winning wood engraver, book artist, teacher, author, and illustrator who has been creating artwork and books and publishing at his private press since 1984. Walker's popular courses in book arts and printmaking at the OCAD University in Toronto, where he is Associate Professor, have been running continuously since 1985. For over twenty years Walker has exhibited his wood engravings and limited edition books internationally, often in conjunction
Descrizione libro The Porcupine's Quill, 2012. Soft cover. Condizione libro: New. No Jacket. In master engraver George A. Walker's newest work, The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson, the circumstances surrounding the death and disappearance of the iconic Canadian artist are explored through some one hundred and nine wood engravings, creating a work that eulogizes not only the artist himself, but the struggle of the artist's attempt to express himself while constrained by society, the reality of the moment, and mortality. Walker's engravings in The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson pay homage to Thomson's contribution to Canadian culture through both representations of his own life and of the contemporary artistic community as a whole. The German Expressionists, who were active around the time Thomson was painting, often used wood engraving techniques in their own works. A ''wordless novel'' format captures the essence of Tom Thomson's artistic spirit and iconic story in an apt way--not only acknowledging the global community of artists of which he was a part, but also alluding to the multiply-interpreted circumstances of his life and death in ways that a text-based work could not. Codice libro della libreria ABE-7192314728
Descrizione libro The Porcupine's Quill, 2012. Soft cover. Condizione libro: New. 1st Edition. Master engraver George A. Walker's The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson explores the circumstances surrounding the death and disappearance of the iconic Canadian artist through some one hundred and nine wood engravings, creating a work that eulogizes not only the artist himself, but the struggle of the artist's attempt to express himself while constrained by society, the reality of the moment, and mortality. Signed by Author(s). Codice libro della libreria ABE-1481666062407
Descrizione libro Porcupine's Quill, 2012. Condizione libro: new. Shiny and new! Expect delivery in 20 days. Codice libro della libreria 9780889843486-1
Descrizione libro Porcupines Quill, 2012. Paperback. Condizione libro: Brand New. first edition. 224 pages. 8.75x5.56x0.75 inches. In Stock. Codice libro della libreria 0889843481
Descrizione libro Porcupine's Quill. PAPERBACK. Condizione libro: New. 0889843481 New Condition. Codice libro della libreria NEW6.0589456