"Illumination" Comes to the Library: Portraits of Canadian Authors by Mark Raynes Roberts

July 17, 2015 | Bill V.

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Toronto Public Library will showcase ILLUMINATION: Portraits of Canadian Authors, a digital art installation of 150 portraits of diverse authors by crystal artist and photographer Mark Raynes Roberts

Running from October 11 to November 1, 2015 the portraits will be digitally projected in the Toronto Reference Library entrance cube and atrium, on LCD screens in 13 branches and featured in the Appel Salon at selected fall events. 

Author Margaret Atwood photographic portrait by Mark Raynes Roberts part of the ILLUMINATIONS: Portraits of Canadian Authors. Copyright Mark Raynes Roberts.

ILLUMINATION: Portraits of Canadian Authors reveals the portraits and personalities of such noted authors as Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden, Emma Donoghue, Charlotte Gray, Elizabeth Hay, Sheila Heti, Plum Johnson, Margaret MacMillan, MG Vassanji, Anne Michaels, Rohinton Mistry, Michael Ondaatje, Miriam Toews and Jane Urquhart. 

“As we welcome a line-up of international luminaries to the Appel Salon stage this fall, it befits our cultural mandate to showcase the world class array of contemporary authors that Canada is home to, so beautifully portrayed in this collection,” said Yvonne Hunter, manager of cultural and special events programming for Toronto Public Library.

Author Rohinton Mistry portrait photograph by Mark Raynes Roberts and part of ILLUMINATIONS: Portraits of Canadian Authors. Copyright Mark Raynes Roberts.

His works will also be shown at:

  ILLUMINATION by Mark Raynes Roberts at the Gardiner Museum.

"They depict "dreamscapes" of Canadian literary stories, expressing the beauty of the written word and exploring the human condition, hopes, wisdom, love and transcendence born from Canada’s most inquiring minds. The literary passages that served as inspiration were chosen by the Writers' Trust Advisory Board." These 12 new engraved crystal pieces will communicate narrative passages based upon the theme of light and taken from literary works by Canadian authors.

His one-of-a-kind crystal art pieces (an earlier work, from a different series is shown below) feature hand engraving and use of a rare combination of both delicate stippling – a time-consuming technique from the 17th century – and deep intaglio diamond wheel-engraving.

Eternity, crystal sculpture detail by Mark Raynes Roberts part of the 9-piece Human Spirit Collection, 1996. Copyright Mark Raynes Roberts.

The multi-media project was two years in the making. Raynes Roberts travelled over 20,000 km and took over 22,500 photographs. ILLUMINATION: Portraits of Canadian Authors celebrates both emerging and established authors from all genres of writing, ethnic background and gender. Raynes Roberts often travelled to the authors’ homes to photograph them in their places of work and inspiration.

“Literature is an art of illumination. Every author wants to shed light on some truth no matter what form the writing takes: fiction or non-fiction. Writing is a pursuit of knowledge and understanding; the desire to bring attention to a story that needs to be told, whether it be about a person, an imagined life, an issue, a part of our history or the human condition. This is why literature is important. We’re not only enriched by it; we’re connected by it,” commented Raynes Roberts.