Friday, November 9, 2012

Québec, snowy owl and yellow birch

Québec, snowy owl, yellow birch linocut

My latest in the provincial series shows the map Québec, its provincial bird, the snowy owl and its tree, the yellow birch. The block was inked 'à la poupée' (with different colours, Payne's gray, gold, black and yellow, in different areas) and printed by hand on lovely Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper. Each print is 23.5 cm by 31.8 cm (9.25" by 12.5"). The print is one of an edition of eight.

The snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) is found throughout the circumpolar regions. The nest in arctic regions (including the northermost tip of Québec), but range throughout much of Canada when they are not breeding. Many Canadians will be nostalgic for the Inuit ookpik*. The yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) is a yellow-bronze birch found from the Maritimes through southern Québec and Ontario into Manitoba and south to the US northeast.

I've had the great priviledge of having seen much of this country and having travelled from coast to coast. (I am still hoping to visit the third coast). Québec is the third province in which I've lived, if only briefly. I've visited Québec many many times since I was a small child. I've had the opportunity to explore Gaspé, north of the river, and even sail the mighty St. Lawrence itself. La belle province is dear to me and I would love to explore it further.

I could have chosen to include the provincial flower, the blue flag (Iris versicolor) - a choice which obviously looks like a fleur de lys and sounds like it is literally describing the provicial flag. However, it's an iris with a complex shape and coloration which really wouldn't translate well to a block print. The snowy owl and birch were a more logical pair.

An Ookpik is nothing but hair.
If you shave him, he isn't there.

He's never locked in the zoo.
He lives in a warm igloo.

He can whistle and dance on the walls.
He can dance on Niagara Falls.

He has nothing at all on his mind.
If you scratch him, he wags his behind.

He dances from morning to night.
Then he blinks. That turns out the light.
-Dennis Lee, 'Alligator Pie'

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