Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Internet Rabbit Hole: Mary Borgstrom Rediscovered

... One feature that I do enjoy about the internet is the ease of 'cross-pollination.' An idea or interest ricochets into another idea or interest and then, ZOOM - in you go ... 

Here's a recent example: - I was flipping around YouTube one evening looking for some light 'reality' entertainment and stumbled onto 'Curiosity Inc' - an amateur antique vlogger's channel from Edmonton, Alberta. Videos are shot by the ever-inquisitive owner, Alex Archbold, in GoPro and hand-held. It looked interesting enough and I started to watch 'Part 1' of the 'Potter's House' ... I soon became entranced. It is one of those hand-held 'reality shows' you watch in a kind of suspended disbelief - 'how could anyone ever live like that?!' - WHY? Because this antique vlogger had been invited to review the contents of a century-old HOARDERS home.

After a single session of 'casing the joint', Alex immediately put in an offer to buy more than just the contents of the house, he bought the entire property. And thus begins a spontaneous YouTube series of 20+ episodes devoted to the renovation of the Potter's House. As the episodes unfurl and the work crew start to sort through the myriad piles of 'stuff', it becomes increasingly apparent that this jam-packed house belonged to no ordinary hoarder ...

Samples of Mary Borgstrom's wares up for auction 
It was, in fact, the boarded-up, run-down, mice-infested home of a now forgotten Canadian potter, Mary Borgstrom. 

Very active from the 50s to late 1980s, Mary's ramshackle house had become a repository of her life's work as well as a kind of shrine to passing decades. (She evidently did not throw out ANYTHING from that century-old house.)

So, who was Mary Borgstrom?

The YouTube series withholds the hoarder's name for quite awhile but eventually begins to pay her homage. When her name is finally revealed, I immediately did a 'Google search' and stumbled on an art site at Concordia University in Quebec, Canada, to learn more. 

And that website, the Canadian Women's Art History Initiative,  just explodes with information about obscure women artists from all across Canada. Intriguing ephemera from galleries, dealers and from artist's estates make it a fascinating portal ... Do spend some time there, snoop about and re-discover old/new talent. There are so many gifted and engaging Canadian female artists, pre-internet, who, like Mary, have slid into obscurity, and it really is a national embarrassment that they have.

Mary Borgstrom is a very good example of one such gifted woman of talent who just faded away ... so much so that her own family were quite prepared to 'auction off' whatever remaining artifacts of hers that they had ... Her well-lived life, (she died in April of 2019 at 102), and her legacy have been rescued, in more ways than one, by a hap-hazard discovery by a treasure-seeking vlogger ...Thank Goodness for Serendipity! 

Without this vlogger posting his discovery, and his subsequent 'on-line' renovation of the Potter House on YouTube, (Curiosity Inc, now has over 225K+ subscribers), and without the ease of Google Search and the vast on-line repository of the internet, I too would never have known anything about this seemingly obscure Canadian potter, Mary Borgstrom. 

Mary Borgstrom Signature 
Her pottery is now back in circulation, and even the CBC 'wrote her up' this past year. 

She now has her own dedicated Wikipedia page.

Continued 'google' searches provide ready excellent examples of her work. In short, Mary has been digitized!

Good on You Alex and family of Curiosity Inc  for spotting and resurrecting a bona-fide national treasure.

... and so goes the internet rabbit hole ...

Monday, December 9, 2019

Wonderful Read of TRILLIUM by actor Jens Hansen

It's proving very tough to find a good reader to do an audio version of my latest novel, TRILLIUM.
It needs someone with a 'good ear' as well as an expressive & dexterous acting 'voice'.

I thought I'd found the right person after hearing a 5-minute sample by local actor Jens Hansen. But, as so often happens, he's not available to do the entire work. So, back to the audio-drawing board!

In the meantime, enjoy this short clip from the start of the novel. I did the intro and he took it from there ... What do YOU think? - Like it? Loathe it? - Want to hear more? - Thoughts welcome! 


Soundcloud - 5 minute read of TRILLIUM - by Jens Hansen 
Consider reading it aloud yourself: TRILLIUM by MLHolton