Seeing BC’s Past Through the Eyes of an Artist

June 8, 2019

By Janet Nicol

A male driver in a flatbed truck loaded with oversized logs threatens all in his path, a sensation British-Canadian artist Sybil Andrews actually experienced on the Vancouver Island highway in 1952. “We met the great load coming up toward us, up the steep hill into Campbell River,” Sybil later wrote. “We got out of the way in our little Mini until it was safely past before we went down the hill.”  Her linocut print, Hauling, inspired by the highway scene, evokes the heyday of BC’s logging industry. Many of Sybil’s eighty-seven linocuts have exhibited internationally beginning in the 1930s, their value  escalating dramatically over time. When Sybil died in 1992, aged ninety-four, she also left behind charcoal sketches, woodcuts, watercolours, oils, and a tapestry. This talented artist, offers a unique perspective on our province’s history.

The full article is available in BC History, Summer 2019.

Hauling (1952), Linocut print by Sybil Andrews

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In the same issue of BC History, I review Lily Chow’s Blossoms in the Gold Mountains: Chinese Settlements in the Fraser Canyon and the Okanagan  (Caitlin Press, Halfmoom Bay, 2018.)   Chow offers a valuable study of early Chinese settlements in the Fraser Canyon and Okanagan.  Drawing on a wealth of sources, she provides important descriptions about early Chinese communities in and around six towns in the province’s interior. The author is well acquainted with the systemic discrimination Chinese people faced, having explored her own family history. Besides depictions of early settlers’ hardships, Chow’s narrative also includes instances where indigenous people were allies, white people expressed sympathetic feelings and advocates within the Chinatowns gave support.

 

 

Campbell River Mirror covers ‘On the Curve’ launch

June 1, 2019

Click on link below to read Campbell River Mirror story on the launch
of “On the Curve” at the Sybil Andrews cottage May 31 and Museum June 1.

New book looks at Sybil Andrews’ legacy

 

April 19, 2019

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Thank you to everyone who came out to the VPL event on June 12. 

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Book talk & signing – June 18, 2019 at 7pm – Presented by On the Curve author Janet Nicol and Vancouver artists Esther Rausenberg & Richard Tetrault, 884 East Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC

Thank you to hosts Esther and Richard and everyone who came out to this event on June 18.

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Book talk & signing – June 20, 2019 at 6:30pm, Presented by On the Curve author Janet Nicol and Dundarave Print Workshop, Granville Island, Vancouver, June 20, 1029 at 6:30 pm

Thank you to all who came out to the event.

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BOOK LAUNCH – MUSEUM AT CAMPBELL RIVER – Saturday, June 1 @ 1pm – and
Meet and Greet Friday, May 30 at 7pm at Sybil and Walter’s cottage.

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Photo of author with Fern Seaboyer and her daughter Kim at “Meet and Greet” inside Sybil’s cottage.  

Many thanks to volunteers of the Sybil Andrews Heritage Society and Campbell River Arts Council and staff at Museum of Campbell River for hosting the events–and to all those who came out on May 31 and June 1.

Sunday June 2 @ 2pm – Book talk and signing at the Powell River library.

On the Curve:  The Life and Art of Sybil Andrews by Janet Nicol, Caitlin Press 2019

978-1-987915-87-7 / 1987915879
8×7, 160 pages, colour photos
Paperback price: $28.95

Available on order at Catlin Press and bookstores.  More info at  -http://caitlin-press.com/our-books/on-the-curve/

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“On the Curve: The Life and Art of Sybil Andrews”

April 12, 2019

by Janet Nicol

Published by Caitlin Press, Halfmoon Bay, May 31, 2019
$28.95 paperback, fully illustrated

Sybil Andrews was one of Canada’s most prominent artists working throughout the late twentieth century. From a cottage by the sea in Campbell River, Andrews created striking linocut prints steeped in feeling and full of movement. Inspired by the working-class community that she lived in, her art is known for its honest depiction of ordinary people at work and play on Canada’s West Coast.

Although she was raised in Bury St Edmunds, England, “On the Curve” focuses on Andrews’ life after she immigrated to Canada in 1947. Settling in Campbell River, Andrews taught private art and music lessons and created artwork that gained her recognition across the globe. In the final years of her life, retrospective exhibitions of her prints in Canada and Britain skyrocketed her popularity. Prints of her artwork became even more valuable after her death in 1992.

I visited England, the Glenbow in Calgary and Campbell River in 2018 and in this biography, interweave stories from Andrews’ letters, diaries and interviews from her former students and friends, to create a portrait of this determined, resilient and gifted British-Canadian artist. Andrews’ work is as popular today as it was in her lifetime and continues to celebrate the cultural, industrial, agricultural and natural world of Canada’s West Coast.

Watch for announcements of a book launch in Campbell River this upcoming June, 2019 followed by book talks in Vancouver. For more information, go to caitlin-press.com

A lithograph print of Sybil Andrews by author Janet Nicol, inspired by an archival photograph of Sybil on Sark Island, off the coast of Normandy, France in the 1930s.

‘Girl Strikers’ and the 1918 Vancouver Laundry Workers’ Dispute

April 12, 2019

by Janet Mary Nicol

Campaigns to raise the minimum wage across North American impact women, comprising the majority of these employees. A century ago women performing low-paid work fought a similar battle for a living wage. They were limited to gendered work, navigating inferior working conditions, sexual harassment and health and safety concerns.

In Vancouver, 300 workers at seven steam laundries–most female–joined a union over the summer of 1918. In early September, they went on strike for four months to improve wages and conditions within an occupation that was hidden, hard and dangerous. Characterized in newspapers as “girl strikers,” most were over 18 years old, working of necessity.

The strike is narrated through the lens of four female participants, taking into account intersectional issues of race, class and gender.

This research paper was presented at the Pacific Northwest Labour History conference in Seattle in 2018 and again at Teaching Labour History: Making Connection in Vancouver, sponsored in part by the BC Labour Heritage Centre in 2019.

Full article in BC Studies, Autumn, 2019 – now available for purchase on line at bcstudies.com for $20 (full journal) or $5.00 for article only.

Cascade Dominion- Laundry Employees Annual Picnic
at Seaside Park, on the Sunshine Coast – June 29, 1918

Photo by Stuart Thomson
Vancouver Archives – AM1535-CVA 99-5201

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“Steam Laundry Girls”, Linocut 3/4, Janet Nicol

TeachBC: Lessons on Labour and Justice

April 12, 2019

Seven Lessons developed by Janet Nicol

The following seven lessons are available on the BC Teachers’ Federation website at “TeachBC”  (Direct link at teachbc.bctf.ca.)   Search by lesson title or author.

*TRC Call to Action Lesson (on Truth and Reconciliation report (2016) Grades 11, 12 and Adult

*Paige’s story – a lesson about a BC teen in the DTES (2016)
Grade 12 and Adult

*Fishermen’s Strike of 1900 (Working People: A History of Labour in BC) (2015) Grades 10-12

*First Economies – on Aboriginal labour history (Working People: A History of Labour in BC” (2015)

*The Professionals – on BC nursing history (Working People A History of Labour in BC) (2018)

Won Alexander Cumyow – on BC’s first Chinese-born Canadian (Working People: A History of Labour in BC) (2015)

By Women, For Women – on the SORWUC bank drive (Working People: A History of Labour in BC) (2015)

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Five of the lessons are also available at the
BC Labour Heritage Centre website, along with video clips.  These lessons were part of the Centre’s Labour History Curriculum Project.    The project was featured in Canada’s History magazine (link at –  https://www.canadashistory.ca/explore/business-industry/building-british-columbia)  and the work of the project, short-listed for the Governor Genera’s History Award (2019).

Link to lessons and videos at –
http://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/working-people/

This life-sized wood likeness of an early logger, is perched atop a 15 m (50 ft) pole in downtown Campbell River.  Hand carved by Dean Lemke in 1984 using local yellow cedar,  ‘Logger Mike’ pays tribute to the labour roots of this city on northern Vancouver Island.

Photo by Janet Nicol (2018).

Vancouver Foundation – history research project

April 8, 2019

In 2017, I was contracted by the Vancouver Foundation, Canada’s largest community foundation, to research its 75 year history,  spanning the war era to present times. The foundation has mentored dozens of other community foundations and continues to make a difference with programs such as Neighbourhood Small Grants (encouraging interaction among urban residents) and Fostering Change (supporting  youth in foster care).

Here’s a Vancouver Foundation history timeline, highlighting some of their key contributions.   (This PDF version can be enlarged by clicking on the downloaded image.)

Back to Bloody Saturday – book review

March 31, 2019

1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike
By the Graphic History Collective and David Lester, with an introduction by James Naylor

Toronto: Between the Lines Books, 2019
$19.95 / 9781771134200

Reviewed by Janet Mary Nicol

David Lester, a Vancouver-based illustrator, writer, and musician, has a keen interest in history with social justice themes. The Listener (Arbeiter Ring, 2011), among his most notable graphic novels, is a gripping story that moves between Germany during the rise of fascism in the 1930s and the contemporary life of a woman artist. In this most recent book, 1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike, Lester re-visits an important event in Canadian history, employing a simpler linear narrative and emphasizing artfully executed black and white drawings. As a result, a new generation is introduced to a tumultuous event a century ago, when more than 30,000 strikers battled police, vigilantes, and the government in May and June on the downtown streets of Winnipeg. The six-week dispute made international headlines and inspired workers to mount sympathy strikes from Vancouver to Amherst, Nova Scotia.

So begins a review about A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike.

Re-printed from The Ormsby Review, an on-line journal about BC culture. Full review at –
https://bcbooklook.com/2019/03/29/519-back-to-bloody-saturday/

“On the Line” a comprehensive look at BC labour history

February 20, 2019

On the Line: A History of the British Columbia Labour Movement by Rod Mickleburgh. Harbour Publisher, Maderia Park, BC, 2018. Hardback, 320 pp, $44.95

Reviewed by Janet Nicol

Tough leaders, resilient workers and generations of picket line battles are featured in this fast-paced survey of 150 years of British Columbia labour history. Author Rod Mickleberg worked the ‘labour beat’ at the Vancouver Sun and Province newspapers for 16 years. His reportage folds neatly into these chronicles about a province rooted in a resource-based frontier economy of forestry, mining and fishing. Thoroughly researched, sources include those gathered by the BC Labour Heritage Centre, instigator of this book project, with sponsorship by the Community Savings Credit Union. Over 200 archival photographs and several sidebar stories accompany the text as well.

So begins my review of Rod Mickleburg’s comprehensive look at BC labour history in the winter issue of Our Times. Disclosure: I assisted with some of the research on the role of women in the labour movement–one of many to contribute toward this important work.

For the full book review, check out Our Times magazine, Winter 2019 issue, available soon in bookstores across Canada and by subscription. An on-line site, Between Times, offers great labour articles too.

King Tide

January 19, 2019

“King Tide”  Linocut with Indian Ink,  1/4, by Janet Nicol.  $20 SOLD 09-2019 @ Dundarave Print Workshop

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“Cedar” Linocut, 1/2 by Janet Nicol.  $20 –  SOLD (4/2019 @ DPW)

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“Lily Pads on Pond” 1/1 Drypoint Etching by Janet Nicol $30 –  SOLD (8/2019 @ DPW)

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“Endless Sea” 2/2 Linocut with water-colour marks by Janet Nicol    $20

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“Petals,” Acrylics on embossed Japanese Mulberry Paper    Janet Nicol   (NFS)

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3/7  Woodcut Print (Reductive)    “Autumn Days”      Janet Nicol      $20

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2/4  Woodcut Print       “Highland Home”    Janet Nicol     $20

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1/1    Linocut on Watercolor Marks  “Moon over the North Shore”  Janet Nicol  $10