About the Author George A. Walker

George A. Walker

George A. Walker is an award-winning wood engraver, book artist and author whose courses in book arts and printmaking at OCAD University in Toronto, where he is Associate Professor, have been offered continuously since 1985. His artworks are held in collections ranging from the Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), New York City and he has had over 15 solo exhibitions as well as been included in more than 100 group shows. Among many book projects-both trade and limited edition-Walker has illustrated 2 hand-printed books by internationally acclaimed author Neil Gaiman. Walker also illustrated the first Canadian edition of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, both published by the Cheshire Cat Press. The Cheshire Cat Press is a partnership between Andy Malcolm and George Walker which continues to publish limited edition books featuring the writing of Lewis Carroll.

George Walker was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art in 2002 for his contribution to the cultural area of Book Arts. He is also a member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto where he was featured in a solo exhibition of his books and printmaking in the spring of 2019. Walker's latest book-length project presents the iconic life of Hollywood silent-film star Mary Pickford in a suite of 87 wood engravings.

Books by this Author
Book of Hours

Book of Hours

A Wordless Novel Told in 99 Wood Engravings
edition:Paperback
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Mary Pickford, Queen of the Silent Film Era
Excerpt

Afterword

The houselights come back up while the final credits roll. Light-borne illusions that have been dancing in front of our eyes fade. We are left with memories that seem as ineffable as dreams and as fugitive as the starlight growing ever more faint on the screen and in our mind.

For the length of time we have been immersed in this silent shadow land, time has stood still. We watched, rapt and mesmerized by the ways black and white pictures can cast us instantly into another time, another dimension.

This is the power of monochrome, of a spectrum made up of tones and tints. Their endlessly complex interactions hypnotize, cast spells transporting us to realms of heroines and villains, fear and loss, hardship and triumph, love and longing.

The wonder of Mary Pickford's palette is that it comprises just the one hue-black-that is tinted by light rays. Through the great technologies of motion picture projection, animating sequences of single, printed images on celluloid just by illuminating them from behind, she discovered a mystical means of telling stories by making light itself her agent of self-expression.

The miracle of her art is that she created vast imaginative universes as if from nothing but shadows penetrating the eye and mind, breaking the barriers between reality and dreams. Her theatrical tableaux are not much more that fluttering figments made from radiant light.

In the darkened cinema, at the very moment when mind and body dissolve in the presence of a Pickford creation she has you in her spell. A grand manipulator of emotions and passions, she gives us characters that incarnate from entirely different realities than the place we sit. Certainly they are in front of our eyes as projections on a screen, but as emanations they come from and commune with some space deep inside us, from a place that is foundational to the human condition.

Mary Pickford's subject is as singular as herself and as universal as humanity. She taps the human heart by offering up versions of her story bathed in vulnerabilities and doubts, wrapped in cloaks of strength and frailty, and accorded with the virtues of justice and truth.

She crafts a presence that is both an element of her life story, and a fictional world fully transformed by a pure and mystifying artistic alchemy. This is her magic charm. We believe that her life and art are one and the same.

Triumphs and disappointments-hers and ours-are reflected in the tales of invented heroines. Shaded divisions between creation and lived experience are so indistinct that Mary Pickford dissolves into her art and we readily follow her. She disappears into the roles she acted out. Enraptured, we meet her on her stages as co-stars in an uncanny theatre.

In a dimmed, flickering, black and white sanctuary we acquiesce to this cunning artist's power transforming a living actor into idealized characters we accept as eternally alive.

We surrender our thoughts and actions to her and them. Movie-born personae illuminated by their author's life grip us. We embark on mute celluloid odysseys that ring true for the time it takes to view the art in front of our eyes, yet also, upon leaving the cinema or closing this book, forever afterward.

Tom Smart
August 2019

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The Hunting of the Snark
Excerpt

From the Foreword

There exists a certain kind of mind that is uncomfortable with ambiguity, nonsense, and the creative imagination. Such persons attempt to reduce the abstruse to some prosaic explication, which they then often insist is the only way to look at it, and surely was the original intent of the author, whose mind they know better than he or she did. This has frequently been the fate of the Snark and, for that matter, Carroll's two masterful Alice books, for those of limited intelligence (intellect, which such persons might possess in abundance, is another matter entirely) who 'read' the poem in their own idiosyncratic way. (Analogously, we in the States elected a man as our leader who sees things exactly as he wishes to see them and allows no such things as facts or truth to stand in his way.)

Contrariwise, as Tweedledee would say, more enlightened minds can rejoice in profound and perplexing-another term might be 'poetic'-works of art. Hermeneutics (the art of interpretation) can better be used to demonstrate how a text could be construed a certain way, thereby proving, with great humor and wisdom, just how infinite is its depth. Fortunately, we are in such hands with this present edition, which does not dictate but rather wittily utilizes illustrations to the poem to memorialize a moment in political time, the bewildering administration of Donald J. Trump and his cronies, by assigning caricatures of his staff to the expedition's crew.

As Ben Hecht put it in A Guide for the Bedevilled (1945), 'Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.' Already at this writing some of the persons caricatured in this edition have left the administration-Anthony Scaramucci, Reince Priebus, and Stephen K. Bannon-but that does not affect George Walker's superb caricatures, nor this edition serving as an aide-mémoire of a baffling yet historic time.

-Mark Burstein, President Emeritus of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America

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