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An Exhibition of Work by Sylvia Ptak

by (artist) Sylvia Ptak

commentaries by Kyo Maclear

Coach House Books
Initial publish date
May 2004
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2004
    List Price

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Sylvia Ptak takes very seriously the idea of the materiality of the written word; in fact, she has made it literally material. Ptak, a Toronto artist, spent countless hours in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library poring over old manuscripts, scrutinizing not the meanings of the words but their shapes. These, she has replicated on gauzy fabric. Swirls of threads mimic cursive script, swaths of colour imitate illuminated letters, different threads reproduce layers of a palimpsest. None of it is readable as text, but all of it is disquietingly familiar – it is remarkable that, without a single identifiable letter, we are still able to discern French from Hebrew.Commentary is in full colour throughout and includes the artist's remarks and an essay by Kyo Maclear. It is a publication of the University of Toronto Library.

About the authors

Sylvia Ptak's profile page

KYO MACLEAR was born in London and grew up in Toronto as the only child of a foreign correspondent. Her father reported on some significant world events, including recording the first interviews with American POWs in North Vietnam. While Stray Love is entirely a work of fiction, it is informed by her experiences living with her father. Her first novel, The Letter Opener (2007), was awarded the K.M. Hunter Artists Award and shortlisted for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Maclear is also an award-winning visual arts writer and the author of two children’s books: Spork (2010) and Virginia Wolf (2012). Visit her online at

Kyo Maclear's profile page

Other titles by Kyo Maclear