Amanda visits the National Gallery of Canada


National Gallery of Canada. Photo courtesy of:

Amanda Earl is the managing editor of, the Bywords Quarterly Journal.  On odd days, she tries to write poetry. On even days, she edits.

One of my favourite places to go in the city is the National Gallery of Canada. As a writer, I find that the works in the gallery fire my creativity. I ache with nostalgia for the days when it used to be free, but this doesn’t prohibit me from visiting the gallery with a dear friend when I get the chance.

A recent trip took us to It Is What It Is: Recent Acquisitions of New Canadian Art, which is on until April 2011. My friend and I mused over the pieces, contemplating which would make great covers for poetry books. I was particularly drawn to Chris Millar’s “Bejeweled Double Festooned Plus Skull for Girls” with its precariously placed collection of miniature accoutrements and skulls, the whole piece being like a doll house furnished by a mad child.

In the general collection and also exciting were Marcel Duchamp’s “Readymades”, pieces of art from ordinary objects. I had no idea the gallery’s collection included this work. Duchamp is someone who I’m keen on because I have a poetry manuscript which plays with works and personalities from the 20s and 30s in Montparnasse and he is a profound influence.

There are some pieces that I will always return to, such as Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Temptation of St. Anthony” from 1490, my first experience of Bosch and so reminiscent of surrealist works from a much later period, which it turns out he influenced.

Beyond inspiring us to hit up the gallery, Amanda also wanted to share a book recommendation for those exploring Ottawa: Ottawa, the Unknown City by local writer and publisher rob mclennan.

She says: “In this book mclennan reveals hidden landmarks and concentrates on the people who have made Ottawa the city, rather than the government town, a great place to live, work and play.”

Thanks Amanda!

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