Below is an account of the cultural outing that took place on March 17th, 2016 to a rare book collection, written by WASM member Elaine Bacal:
On March 17th, 2016, 13 members of WASM attended a wonderful guided tour of D’Or et D’Azur, an exhibit of very old books and illuminated manuscripts dating from medieval to early renaissance. The exhibit was in the Bibliothèque des livres rares et collections spéciales (BLRCS), located in the Samuel Bronfman Pavilion on the campus of Université de Montréal. Our guide, Nicholas Herman, PhD student in art history and curator, expertly explained the exhibit and showed his passion for this ancient art form.
Upon entering the exhibit space, there was a collection of old books belonging to the BLRCS with intricately carved covers, all hand-lettered and illuminated on vellum pages. Opposite this cabinet was a display of writing tools, including feather quills, ground lapis and cobalt for pigments, saffron, gold-leaf and eggs, the whites of which were used as binders for the pigments.
The next section of the exhibit contained beautiful reproductions of liturgical books which were used by clergy for mass, as well as examples from the Lindisfarne Gospels and Book of Hours, which also contained prayers. Nicholas explained that there are many versions of the Book of Hours for they were customized for each wealthy and literate owner, often including portraits of the owners themselves. Very small books, no larger than the palm of the hand, were made for women so that they could read the prayers any time they wished throughout the day. An interesting fact regarding these replicas is that they are very valuable, sometimes ranging in the tens-of-thousands of dollars as opposed to millions for the originals.
The following part of the exhibit included single pages from old books, for at some time in the past, the pages of the books were separated and sold or given away as gifts. Some of the pages were musical scores. Nicholas has done some research on trying to find pages from a single book, but because these pages are scattered in museums, universities and estates throughout the world, finding more than two or three pages from one book is a difficult task indeed.
We then moved on to the final section which included printed pages, on paper. Examples from Albrecht Durer were on view here as well as a small collection of old, finely scripted documents found in various departments of the Université de Montréal, including an order for oatmeal!
All-in-all, we thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit and learned very much about this ancient and very beautiful art form. We thank Nicholas Herman and the BLRCS for D’Or et D’Azur.
On April 12, 2016 well-known sculptor Susan Stromberg presented, “Living in 3 Dimensions” at McCord Museum.
On April 19th 2016, a cultural outing, organized by Josette Wecsu, was made to the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec. Avy Loftus greeted the group of 12 WASM members at the Musée des maîtres et artisans that afternoon. She was pleased to guide us through her exhibition on Indonesian batik in which are displayed her beautiful batik dresses and shawl creations. Avy took time to explain the ancient origins of these intricate batiks and how they are part of the national soul of Indonesia and tied to its cultural identity. She instructed us on the batik technique and all the processes involved in the creation of batik artistry. It was a most enjoyable afternoon and a good learning experience.