This exhibition marks the 80th anniversary of the Governor General’s Literary Awards by celebrating more than 700 award-winning books – the people who write them and the places where we read them.
READING GG BOOKS is a story of many stories. It offers the potential to experience everyday life from many points of view but presents no dominant mythology. The PEOPLE, PLACES and THINGS gathered here are primary research, plot devices and literary symbols. From bees to bears; from rocks to seeds to weeds; from a cake to a bonnet, a pen to a typewriter – they are all charged with potential meanings.
The THINGS may be familiar, but never neutral. Plums can nourish but their pits can poison. A granite paperweight can change lives. The gift of a pen can intertwine destinies.
The PLACES are specific, but also imagined. They are trails between one place and another. Houses and neighbourhoods, islands and cities – they become backdrops for action, or primary characters.
The PEOPLE grapple with the conditions of different places and times. They have conversations, make decisions, fall in and out of love, battle time, confront life, death, the unknown… In short, like us, they live their lives and make decisions within a certain set of conditions. But by READING the world through their eyes, we come to experience a larger story, and imagine possible new worlds and words yet to come.
Curator and avid reader
Silver gelatin print of Thomas Irving Findley from a family photograph album used as source material for Timothy Findley’s novel, The Wars. Library and Archives Canada, e011180231-v8 Timothy Findley and William Whitehead fonds
A bear specimen from the Canadian Museum of Nature’s important mammal collection accompanies Marian Engel’s novel, Bear.
Olympia SM9 deluxe portable typewriter, similar to one that would have been used by bpNichol for his poem, Still Water
Retailles d’hosties (remnants of the host) accompany Marie-Claire Blais’ novel, Manuscrits de Pauline Archange.
Meredith Carruthers is an artist and curator. She was Associate Curator of the 2014 Istanbul Design Biennial and part of the publication and curatorial teams at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. She has written on display and exhibition-making for Abitare, cura.art and Canadian Architect. Meredith is currently working with Susannah Wesley, her collaborative partner in LEISURE, to develop an installation on landscape experience at Expo 67 for the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. She lives in Montreal.