Last saturday we were delighted to host artists Shary Boyle and Emily Vey Duke for the launch of their new book, The Illuminations project, which collects the fruit of their ten-year drawing/writing collaboration. After meeting each other in Halifax over a decade ago, when the two of them were both 26, they immediately fell into an intense friendship and correspondence. Emily would write a text and send it to Shary, who would make a drawing based on the writing, keep it, and send a new drawing to Emily, who would then write two texts -- one to keep, and a new one for Shary to use. In this way, part of their exchange was always kept private. As the ''Note to the Reader'' puts it, ''The Illuminations Project'' developed in ways not fully knowable to either artist until its conclusion.'' Moreover, the project was never really conceived for any audience than the two artists themselves. The resulting book is thus a uniquely intimate document -- and, along with Emily's texts themselves, some of the correspondence between the two artists is reproduced in the Postscript.
While the publication stands by itself, the drawings and writing in it were also presented as an exhibition at Oakville Gallery in Ontario earlier this year. The gallery's acting assistant curator, Daniella Sanader, came all the way from Toronto to give Emily and Shary a warm introduction.
Shary Boyle reads from Emily's texts -- the two of them traded off reading while Shary's accompanying drawings (printed onto transparencies) were displayed on a screen with the help of an overhead projector.
This one is titled ''The Bad Mother.'' In general, the two artists' writings and drawings explore the experience of women, children, animals and the natural world -- ''entities that have historically been controlled and subjugated.''
''Bloodie Writes an Anthem.'' Many of the entries in the book follow the character of Bloodie, a ''gutsy figure of young female survival,'' as she goes through various travails and triumphs. This is one of the more ecstatic moments -- the written vignette ends with Bloodie smiling, surprised by the creative power of her own outburst.
Thanks again to everyone who came out! This was a super-fun event, and we had a packed house.