On this day: William Blake (d. August 12, 1827)

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One of William Blake’s illustrations of the Book of Job, pulled from the McGill plate by Miss Van Hoogandycke, 1969. RBSC (Lande Blake Collection), Blake 5.2 B64T57 1969 elf.

William Blake (1757–1827), English painter and poet, made his living as a commercial engraver and was best known for that work during his lifetime. He was later recognized for his original work as an artist and poet, which included lyrical compositions of spiritual imagery inspired by his interest in theology and philosophy, and an innovative method of “illuminated printing” that combined text and image on a single copperplate.

McGill’s Blake Collection was established in 1953 with a donation of some 250 items by Dr. Lawrence Lande (1906–1998), a major Canadian collector and bibliographer. It has grown to include more than a thousand monographs, facsimiles, engravings, drawings, and slides. Editions of Blake’s own literary works are here, as are copies of books in the editions owned or read by him. Continue reading

Remembering Corridart

By Fin Lemaitre*

This month marks the fortieth anniversary of Montreal’s Corridart exhibition—a project that promised to turn Sherbrooke Street into a linear, open-air art museum for just over a month in the summer of 1976. The centerpiece of the cultural programme of the XXI Olympiad, Corridart stretched from Atwater Avenue to Pie IX Boulevard. Organizer Melvin Charney, a Montreal-based artist/architect, envisioned the project as a critical intervention in Montreal’s recent urban development. From a pool of 306 submissions, the competition jury selected for inclusion 22 artists[1] whose proposals addressed collective life and its relation to the built environment.

Cover of our copy of the limited edition, artist proof copy, of Corridart 1976-. [Montréal : Graff, 1982] 72x52cm.

Cover of our copy of the limited edition, artist proof copy, of Corridart 1976-. [Montreal: Graff, 1982] 72x52cm.

Charney sought artworks that would enter into dialogue with the street and its history. Montreal’s streets deserved special attention, as he saw it, because more than those in other North American cities, they had historically served as meeting spaces. They had transcended their apparent purpose as transportation routes and achieved importance foremost as places of contact between the city’s diverse sub-populations. The decision to mount Corridart on Sherbrooke Street was significant in this regard. As a main avenue connecting economic, linguistic, and cultural enclaves, it was an ideal host site for the exhibition. Installations would begin near the wealthy, Anglophone borough of Westmount and pass McGill University before crossing some of the city’s more working-class, Francophone areas. Continue reading

Exhibition: Alcuin Society Book Design Awards 2015

AwardsLogo-215x300We are pleased to unveil the newest edition of the Alcuin Society Awards Exhibition for Excellence in Book Design in Canada. Since 1981, The Alcuin Society organizes a friendly annual competition to appreciate and enjoy the best-designed books across the nation.

Books are chosen from 8 different categories: Children’s, Limited Editions, Pictorial, Poetry, Prose: Fiction, Prose: Non-Fiction, Prose: Non-Fiction (Illustrated), and Reference. Chosen from over 200 submissions, the award-winners are celebrated because of their ability to demonstrate exceptional visual design concepts corresponding with the intellectual nature of the content itself.

The travelling exhibition will be showcased from coast to coast across Canada, from June 2016-March 2017, as well as in several international venues, including the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo and international book fairs in Frankfurt and Leipzig. A complete list of exhibition venues is available on the Alcuin website.

The 2015 exhibition is on display in the lobby of the 4th floor of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, McLennan Library Building until the end of July. Enjoy!

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Award Category: Children’s

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Award Category: Prose Non-Fiction Illustrated

Chora 7 Book Release and Exhibition Vernissage

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Chora 7

Chora, the Greek word for space, is the title of a forum created by Alberto Péréz-Goméz along with Stephen Parcell in the form of seven books (1994–2016). Including seventy-eight authors and eighty-seven essays, these volumes—much like the historic works they reference—explore the capacity of language to address fundamental issues of meaning in architecture.

In collaboration with McGill-Queen’s University Press and the McGill School of Architecture, the McGill University Library and Archives’ Rare Books and Special Collections will be hosting a book launch on Wednesday, March 30 at 6pm for the final volume of CHORA: Intervals in the philosophy of architecture.

The event will also act as a vernissage for the accompanying exhibition, “CHORA: The Space of Architectural Meaning”, curated by Youki Cropas and Evan Pavka. Drawing on the numerous essays, along with the holdings of Rare Books and Special Collections, this exhibition brings together a selection of works addressing themes of communication, culture, myth, harmony, perception, instrumentality, history, and desire. Though emerging from works across a broad historical spectrum, the questions posed in each volume continue to permeate contemporary architectural discourse and to inspire explorations of meaning in the built world.

Event location: McLennan Library Building Rare Books and Special Collections, 4th Floor, 3459 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 0C9

For more information on the CHORA series, please click here.

Colour our collections!

We couldn’t resist joining in on the fun of #ColorOurCollections week (February 1-5, 2016)!
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Inspired by the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM), the New York Public Library (NYPL), the Smithsonian Libraries, and many more museums and libraries, we’ve decided to share selections from the McGill Library and Archives for your colouring enjoyment.

Download our first two colouring sheets from the Canadian Architecture Collection here:

1. Heraldic drawing 1916 2. Redpath Library 1922

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Be sure to share your completed masterpieces on social media with the tag #ColourOurCollections / #ColorOurCollections [Twitter: @McGilllLib Facebook: @McGill.Library]

From the staff of: Digital Library Services and Rare Books and Special Collections

 

Memorial Stained Glass Windows for Medical Building, 1919

Nobbs and Hyde design: Memorial Windows for Medical Building (1919).

Nobbs and Hyde. Memorial Windows for Medical Building (1919). John Bland Canadian Architecture Collection, Rare Books and Special Collections.

The memorial is a handsome stained glass window of three lights placed in the main hall of the Strathcona Dentistry and Anatomy Building [formerly Strathcona Medical Building], over the main entrance. It was designed by Prof. P.E. Nobbs, and executed by the Bromsgrove Guild, Leeds. The memorial was a gift of the teaching staff of the faculty of medicine. Each light represents a scene recalling the service of one of the men whose memories are honored. Continue reading

Arthur Erickson exhibition: Lignes topographiques / Site Lines (UQAM Centre de Design)

Arthur Erickson, office building south-west elevation (John Bland Canadian Architecture Collection)

Arthur Erickson, office building south-west elevation (John Bland Canadian Architecture Collection)

Drawings by the renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson are on display at the UQAM Centre de Design until October 18, 2015. The exhibition, Lignes topographiques / Site Lines, includes a selection of Erickson’s drawings from the collection of the Calgary Architectural Archives and the John Bland Canadian Architecture Collection (CAC), Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill University.  Continue reading

Born on this day: Aubrey Beardsley

Masson Bookplate XIV 2317The English illustrator and writer, Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, was born 143 years ago, on August 21, 1872. Known for his unique illustration style, a blending of Art Nouveau and Japanese print aesthetics, Beardsley gained popularity with the 1893 Dent edition of Le Morte d’Arthur. He would later illustrate Oscar Wilde’s Salomé (1894) – a portfolio of designs for this book is available in our collection – which made him famous. Our William Colgate Printing Collection includes two further examples of his work, these published by Stone & Kimball in 1894: The frontispiece for W.B. Yeats’ The Land of Heart’s Desire and frontispiece and vignette for the title and cover of John Davidson’s Plays. Later editions of his work in children’s books and fairy tales are also available for consultation. Continue reading