Showcasing the creations that were made during CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS Pen Pals Project Session #4 ~ From Feb. 28th to Mar. 14th 2021.
With only 24 to 48 hours as the turnaround goal for each piece, Creatives challenged themselves to create in a quick timeframe using their Matches piece for inspiration.
Creatives participants were matched in a back-and–forth creative expression for two weeks. The prompt for this Round was ‘Ever After,’ and all interpretations of this from ‘Forever After’ to ‘Nevermore’ and anything in-between.
The Creative Pen Pal journey reveals much more than artistic pieces alone ~ shared experiences and friendships blossom along the way too. Like connecting with a great piece of art or maybe a song, connecting with someone new can be exciting, daring, challenging, frustrating, surprising, comforting, provocative, and awakening.
On this journey together, participants grow as creatives ~ experiencing a variety of emotions and insights about their creative process Participants are provided with a mood tracker as a tool for self-reflection.
For professional or emerging artists this project serves as an interesting chance to develop and expand in their artistic discipline or to try a new medium.
For others, having a Creative Pen Pal is a much-needed break from the social isolation that the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions impose. Taking part in an online social activity can not only help give one a sense of belonging but can also combat the adverse psychological and physiological effects of stress caused by the pandemic imposed isolation and restrictions.
For many, it’s an exercise in personal growth ~ trusting strangers to contribute to a shared goal. Something beautiful begins to grow as the creative conversation takes on a life of its own and a new unspoken understanding and connection emerge.
All this culminates in a linear exhibit showcasing each unique conversation followed by an intimate private artist group chat over zoom. Creatives are encouraged to speak about their emotions and inspirations for each piece and their creative process. We share tips and advice about all things creative. Please send us a message to learn how to get involved.
Enjoy the exhibit.
Rhiannon Barry, Project Coordinator
A Be Whimsi Art Loft creation
Bobby Kumar (Brampton, Ontario) & Jennifer Daniels (St.Catharines, Ontario)
Elizabeth Tessier (Hamilton, Ontario) & April Garrison (St.Catharines, Ontario)
1.’Will we freely breathe’
Will we freely breathe the breath of others, sit by strangers, stand in stadiums?
Will we fall asleep on subways share nachos, sip another’s drink?
Will fear linger in plexiglass substations, fever tests, facemasks? Will we still see lines of connections beyond people, like connect-the-dots of childhood or late life a 1-A, 2-B, 3-C tests for dementia? Will we consider flume in public restrooms?
Touch elevator buttons, door handles without pause? Will it be like life on tv where people congregate heedlessly or a new conflation of elation, caution and fear of contagion?
Your kayak, an outer carapace
You are a mollusk taking refuge, fused, a hybrid creature
Early morning mist floats inscrutable just beyond the front of your craft is obfusk.
set out, stroke slowly trusting the water under you.
You get a rhythm with your new long arm ending in flat palms.
Your skag tail sets you on a straight course but feathering closer you stir the current in a sculling draw to move your hull parallel
You approach the god of falling water close enough to feel the damp breath on your hair, stare into its looming numinous power.
retreat downstream navigate towards the tongue of dark water to maneuver through the rapids below.
Ship Ribs and gibsheets fathoms shroud,
hold held in bottom sand ruddersnap mast bonesstand in stasis
Former storm maneuvers current
A tell, a warning a red sky in morning.
Shoreless, unharboured mnemonic device riddles with tics triggering riggings snag
No float, no further unfurling waterlogged the log writ passage of days
Fin flagged the forecastle
The spruce extends its unclenched hand towards the sky in silhouette against the summer scarlet.
Trees cast shadows, like hovering ancestors. The canoe lies capsized a sleeping beast.
I almost expect its tired ribs to heave in a sigh. Tomorrow we will paddle again tiny toys on unsteady waters,
Our childhood sorrows, the waves, propelling us and breaking into whitecapped fury in the shallows of barely submerged hurts.
We are not yet men but the woods require of us to be something we don’t recognize that was there all along,
more constant than our parents, who grow smaller in the distance into awkward children needy and afraid.
We are the only ones who know the way, We each portage and paddle our singular path.
The path reveals where those have gone before but once you see it twisting through the trees you can its given protocols ignore
Your chosen way will take you where you please.
We would clear out the way and make it safe but there are dangers in too smooth a path and our insistence may well make you chafe.
You see the anxious mistrust in our wrath, and in our fear a lack of confidence.
we stand back now and watch you on your way.
No need for you to share our hesitance, but find your voice, speak what you need to say.
You go beyond us, this we always knew.
Only you can find the path that’s true.
Tiny offspring of the dinosaurs
fly in form as if a single bird;
each small arrow flying in the gore
takes its rightful place as if a word
writ into a strictly formal poem.
How do these feathered creatures organize,
assemble themselves in their journey home?
and gather as my thoughts that recognize
a flock of words to paint them on their way.
Fine wing bones of syllables take flight
calligraphy of God as if to say:
stop and read the sunrise with delight.
Here read the beauty of the sky you’re under
Look to the birds, let thought take flight with wonder.
It was your 91st birthday. Cards, flowers and well wishes were pouring in from near and abroad. It was the kind of day you loved, sun shining and large, fluffy snowflakes falling, You pushed away your lunch tray and said you weren’t hungry. You said you were tired as you had been up late till the small hours of the morning visiting with staff and sharing stories of your youth, cycling trips with girlfriends going all over Scotland and the Western Isles. You loved sharing your adventures and misadventures, anything for a laugh. We tucked you into bed for an afternoon nap. You were wearing your favourite nightdress and your hair was freshly done. You were tired indeed. You went to sleep and never woke up, dying while holding my hand. Your final breath was a bullet through my heart. But there was no piercing sound of a gunshot, only an impenetrable, still silence, the deepest silence I have ever felt. You quietly and gently slipped your mortal coil and were gone forevermore. I am left to grieve. I am left in awe.
2 Jane Thistles, Thistles Everywhere (3 min read)
As a child growing up in Scotland, I would sit each morning at the grand, formal dining room table staring into the beautiful design of a thistle on a china egg cup. I loved its beautiful, purple flower which resembled a crown. The crisp, white tablecloth was embossed with thistle emblems and it felt as though I was sitting in a great white field about to partake in a lovely breakfast picnic. The boiled egg would be placed carefully in the cup and the top cut off. Hot buttered toast cut into “soldiers” would be placed on the plate and hot tea poured. Family members, immediate and extended, across the generations, joined the formal table setting and interesting conversations would begin. When the topic drifted to politics, my eyes would wander out the big picture window looking onto a green glen divided by a babbling brook and I would see the purple thistles dotting the rich, green hill. To my father and forefathers, the thistle represented courage, perseverance and endurance from the hardships of war and invasions by English oppressors over the centuries. But to me it was the beauty of the colour purple in my world, in my own highland cathedral.
Afternoons were spent in the large salon, reading and studying while my aunts knitted, sewed and embroidered. Their thimbles sported a thistle emblem and I would watch their fingers for hours carefully mending or creating something beautiful. My grandmother, wearing a thistle apron, and whose hands were always smooth and red from working with flour, would make scones and shortbread using a wooden thistle mold. It was served alongside tea in a thistle-themed tea set. Thistles, thistles, everywhere!
Thistles represented my past and present life, but they would not represent my future. One day, the grand old stone house was sold. The furnishings, household effects and décor were also sold with the proceeds going to the local primary school. We were moving to Canada to start a new life and embark on a great adventure. My dad accepted a position at a hospital in Ontario and that was it. My idyllic childhood playing in fields of wildflowers, watching baby lambs and feeding bunnies and guinea pigs, was over.
As the jumbo jet took off from Prestwick Airport, I pressed my nose against the window to look out over the bright emerald and purple landscape dotted with white sheep below. It was visible only for minutes until we were high above the deep blue waters of the vast Atlantic Ocean, then Greenland’s white, snowy glaciers and craggy mountains. The plane became enveloped in thick, high clouds and I felt lost in the vast oneness of the heavens. It was like I had entered a massive vacuum suspended in time and space. The light in the cabin began to fade and I fell into a deep sleep. I was wearing a kilt and poncho with a grouse’ claw pinned to my kilt. The pin had a purple-gemmed thistle head and it sparkled as a reminder of the life and kinfolk I had left behind.
After the long flight, we descended into the massive hustle and bustle of the busy airport, with people from all countries and all walks of life. As we entered the area for landed immigrants to be processed, a rather large and imposing immigration officer bent over, patted me on the head, and handed me a shiny, red maple leaf. That was to be my new emblem, nevermore the thistle.
When we left the airport terminal, I saw only endless shades of grey and brown, a monotonous asphalt and concrete jungle. No green. No purple. Nothing living. No rushing water. The only splash of colour was the bright yellow taxi whose window I was peering out of. I wanted to go home, back to my grandmother, my aunts and the thistle-dotted green glens of Scotland. But I was now in the land of the “Maple Leaf Forever”. My destiny had arrived.
4 Rhiannon Barry-This was an emotional Pen Pal exchange and brought up a lot of memories of my grandmother who, if you know me well you know, was likely my greatest positive influence. To support Jane in her loss while also keeping it creative I pieced together this tribute to her mother. ‘Wish I Could Do More’