Saturday, December 18, 2010

Arthur Erickson on an evening with Lawren Harris

The "at home", Saturday evenings were an astonishing exposure to the purveyors of ideas of his city. (Vancouver). Intellectuals, not only from Vancovuer but also from Europe, frequented those evenings, for many composers and conductors, dancers and writers had come to Canada from the conflagration in Europe. Barbirolli, Britten, Arthur Benjamin, and Sir Ernest McMillen were a few I remember. Locally, the Adaskins, Ira Dillworth, the Binnings, Birneys, Bells, Smiths, Andrews and MacKenzies were frequent attendants. The ritual was set. After arriving at 8:30 sharp, you were seated in the living room. Lawren selected the first recording of his huge collection. He spoke about it, clipped the bamboo needle, turned out the lights, and left you in the dark, to concentrate only on your aural senses.

At 10:00 the lights went on and coffee was served. Suddenly, from the night of aural enchantments we entered the day of visible light - the silvery light of Lawren's mountain experiences. The clear blues, muted purples, whites, chrome yellows and silver greys of his non-objective compositions on the walls extended into the serene surroundings of the house. A grey-purple carpet ran throughout on wich white sor silvery rugs were set with cabinets of eaten tin from Mexico and low white sofas. Lawren's and a few of Bess's paintings glowed with the suffused illumination of Arctic ice, the mountain summits, the floating icons of an unlimited sky...."

pg viii
forward from Light for a Cold Land
Lawren Harris's Work and Life - an Interpretation
by Peter Larisey
Dundurn Press
Toronto, 1993.
IXBN 1-55002-188-5

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