John Norris and Patrizia Menton.
Grades 12 and up / Ages 17 and up.
John Norris is a resident of New Denver, B.C. This book of photographs shows the results of his efforts to create a garden over a thirty year period. The garden contains wild flowers, regular cultivated flowers, a rock garden, and a pond. It appears from the photographs of Patrizia Menton to be a garden of which nature would be proud.
In addition to the flowers, the garden boasts much else to attract passers-by. Proudly assembled like works of art at a gallery opening are granite and aged driftwood sculptures which urge readers to feel them and acknowledge their beauty. An ancient cedar stump partially burnt by fire is described by the author as, "made lovingly by a cascade of pale grey-green lichens that we also avoid touching lest we destroy them, so fragile they look". The close-ups of these natural sculptures show them to be dignified, richly textured and deserving of attention.
John Norris is well qualified to write about his own garden. A talented writer he has previously written three books, Old Silverton, Wo Lee Stories, and Historic Nelson. Old Silverton won the British Columbia Lieutenant Governor's Medal for History Writing in 1986.
A sample from John's Garden shows the richness of Norris' prose. From "Inside And Outside", he writes, "Years later - after I had begun to tinge my whole house with red as an echo of that old 'CPR red' once so familiar in this valley - I brushed the timbers with a mixture of about one part red paint to fifty parts linseed oil, thereby bringing about - if I may be permitted an extremely attenuated stretch of the imagination - an occurrence of convergent evolution between timber and rock."
Patrizia Menton, owner and operator of Chiaroscuro Photographic Gallery in Hills, BC, is also very talented. Her photographs, rich with intense colours, create powerful, irresistible images. They give the garden an aura of mystery, a glimpse of a wonderful world that viewers can only enter with their imaginations. They tantalize like the thoughts of some forbidden fruit. What lies bevond the leaves and moss? What hidden secrets await behind the rocks and dense beds of flowers?
Norris and Menton complement each other. Together they have created an unusual book that readers will enjoy time and again. The photographs can be viewed solely for their artistic merit, but, with the addition of Norris's text, they become more alive and meaningful.
Thomas F. Chambers is a professor of economics and political science at Canadore College, North Bay, ON.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - JUNE 20, 1997.
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