The Letterarian

Artist. Keeper of letters…

I have been listening to an audio book version of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway while working on a sewing project. I have read the book several times over the years, and have seen the film featuring Vanessa Redgrave as Mrs. Dalloway several times as well. I never tire of this novel, and it always surpises me how I respond to it everytime I read it – it seems that I relate to something different each time, and I always find something that I didn’t catch on the previous readings. VW covers several stages of life in this novel, and interspersed in between these life occurrences is the second by minute by hourly moments that may pass us by and appear mundane and too ordinary for us to really take notice of…

I’ve always been drawn to Virginia Woolf’s work not because of what she is saying in her novels, but because of how she writes her narratives, and how she tackles her subjects in her unique voice and narrative style. This time I am actually responding to the story at a parallel level with the way it is being told (perhaps one of the benefits of listening to the audio version, where I can concentrate on hearing instead of reading text). It’s a great experience, to be sure!

And while working on my sewing my mind certainly does wander, like the wandering thoughts VW displays in the novel…yes, that interior monologue that goes on and on in the novel…it is similar to the one in my own head as I bend in to do a project that requires physical dexterity…

Phyllida Law reads this audio version… I love her voice, and it even reminds me a bit of VW’s voice, from this recording: …I love VW’s voice too.

Mrs. Dalloway

A masterpiece of interior monologue…a perfect execution of mental dexterity!




voices mingling
reaching out
across a painted bridge

opening wind

whispering leaves


©Jacqueline Harris 2016

The Book of Laughter


Happiness is elusive.
Just when you think
you’ve got a good hold of it,
it slips from your grasp.

And yet,
it’s as free for the taking
as the air that we breathe.

I can hear it laughing.

©Jacqueline Harris 2016
The Book of Laughter Artist book, hand lettered, bound, printed, and embossed. Edition of 4.


Dream Sequence I – revisted…

New photographs of the book Dream Sequence I, L’enchantement de la femme noire. 
A challenging work to photograph because of its size and wide vertical dimensions which, when opened, measures approximately 186 cm (73 inches).

The work for Dream Sequence II will begin in the next few days…

Night & Day books

Chasing natural light and shaping shadows with my books Night & Day I and Night & Day II.

Artist books. Night & Day I and Night & Day II. ©Jacqueline Harris 2016

Just heard the radio guy say, “…art is how we decorate space, and music how we decorate silence…” Poetic, isn’t it!

Shadows are but extensions of the dark and of dense matter as they are pushed out by the light. To know the light, one must find acquaintance with the dark. Although the shadow may seem born of the dark, it is the light that brings it forth. The shadow can also be seen as a path that leads you to the light.

The following is a narrative of shade and light unfolding… Introducing Shades of Light, a series of four books that contemplates shadow and light.


Summer Solstice 2016

In anticipation of experiencing a “strawberry moon” on the summer solstice, I prepared my tripod and Sony camera with zoom lens so that I could capture this rare occasion of a full moon rising on the longest day of the year. I had envisioned a clear night from which to take my photos. Alas, I could say that an evil system of clouds rolled in and obscured my fantasy of a perfect round ball of night light floating in the atmosphere, but can truly say that this cloud system actually made that full solstice moon look even more beautiful. I could not take my eyes away from the sight of this beautiful view, which did not appear from my focal viewpoint until after 11:15 PM. What a mesmerizing scene!

Summer solstice full moon 2016 ©Jacqueline Harris 2016

Paper Universe

Paper…it is a universe within itself… As handlers of paper we respond to how it feels, looks and responds to our touch, to its weight, by how it moves and how it sounds when it moves, how it bends, and how it can flap about when you animate it, or how serene and beautiful it may look when it hangs from a wall or falls from a book… This list can go on and on. Besides the amazing things that artists can do and say with this fine medium for expression, paper can say a whole lot without having anything said on it.

These are elements I was exploring when I developed the following three book works which were created specifically for a Canadian group exhibition that showed in 2011 called “Bound by Nature, An exhibition inspired by nature, landscape and books,” curated by Canadian artist Deborah Danelley.

With “Memoir, a book of sand” I was interested in exploring texture and containment, light and shadow, and the metaphor of moving through time with the eye travelling across the length of an image, a book. Taking the memory that time places on us and containing it in this form felt like a natural thing to do…

“Memoir, a book of sand” 2011 Book cover/box: 2 3/8″ h x 4 1/2″ l x 3 7/8″w (h 6cm x l 11.5cm x w 9.8cm) Fine Japanese St. Armand papers mounted on board.
A concertina book structure with an inkless embossed print mounted and bound on fine handmade Japanese papers. Book opens up to approx. 106 in. (269 cm) Text contemplation by Jacqueline Harris. Photo credit: Nicole Coulson.

Poem text:

a mark in time…

this is the mark
time places on us

it is a memory
in the sand

Detail of “Memoir, a book of sand” Digital text in pigment ink. Photo credit: Nicole Coulson.
Detail of inkless print in “Memoir, a book of sand” Inkless print hand rendered onto paper from a long plate made up of acrylic mediums on board.


The next set of books “Night & Day I” and “Night & Day II” is an example of how papers can speak for themselves…

“Night & Day I” “Night & Day II” 2011 Matchbox books bound with Arches and fine Japanese papers.
Detail of “Night & Day” books.
Detail of “Night & Day I” Text digitally rendered in pigment inks and composed by Jacqueline Harris.
Detail of “Night & Day II” Text digitally rendered in pigment inks and composed by Jacqueline Harris.
Detail “Night & Day I”
Detail “Night & Day II”
Details of “Night & Day” books.


“Dream Sequence I, L’enchantement de la femme noire”
In this work I was exploring size and the concept of the “unfolding” element of a narrative. I also wanted to feel physically engaged in the handling experience of reading a book with such wide pages…you have to use your whole arm to turn the pages, and I found this very engaging as a reader.

“Dream Sequence I, L’enchantement de la femme noire” 2011 This “book” is bound in a handmade box. To provide an idea of the scale of this book, dimensions are: h 18.3 cm x w 64cm x d 1.2cm; h 7.2″ x w 25.2″ x d .47″ (book closed up)
Detail of “Dream Sequence I, L’enchantement de la femme noire”

Building a visual narrative is like building a poem. Thematic elements and motifs occur and recur throughout the piece, building up rhythm and harmony. I wanted to retain such a feel with the method of printing and gilding, and so devised a way to apply the gold in the work in the manner of the pochoir method of the forest and dame noire.

Inside detail of “Dream Sequence I, L’enchantement de la femme noire”
Narrative consists of Pochoir print and 23kt gilding on Rives, mounted and bound on fine Japanese and St. Armand papers. w 186.6 cm; w 73.5″ (book opened up) Photo credit: Nicole Coulson



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