Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Farmer Christmas

Yes, that's right.... not Father Christmas, but Farmer Christmas!
Every year on the first Saturday in December the little country town of Schomberg, Ontario, closes off Main Street, charges everyone $5.00 (kids are free!) to pass the barriers, and holds it's annual Christmas Festival. 
There are jugglers, fire eaters, magicians, singers, and rock bands. Blazing fire barrels to stand next to, in order to keep warm on a frosty night. 
Food stalls, firemen offering free hot chocolate from the back of the fire truck, a craft show and sale, carol singers, a parade for the children in the afternoon, and when it gets dark, the main event that everyone is waiting for...... the Enormous Farm Equipment Christmas Parade!

The local farmers, and there are a lot of them, decorate their farm equipment with thousands, maybe millions, of lights. The bigger the farming machinery, the better!

This tractor and hay wagon had revolving reflectors installed under the equipment making fantastic coloured patterns on the road.

This one had lights that went round with the huge wheels. I have to wonder how they do that, without the wires getting all tangled up. Must be Christmas magic, I think.
Here's a short video of a couple of the floats.... the maniacal screaming is my grandson Callum. Sorry if he hurts your ears. He was very excited!

Finally the Great Man himself arrives riding on an enormous John Deere combine harvester. 
We'll definitely be going again next year..... the best Santa Claus Parade EVER!!!!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Totem Pole

Back in 2009, the McMichael Art Gallery located in Kleinburg, Ontario, commissioned a Totem Pole from Haida carver Don Yeomans. It's on permanent display in the entrance of the gallery.

This magnificent red cedar Totem Pole incorporates images of the Raven, the Eagle and the Frog and represents totems of the Haida people of North West British Columbia. But even though these are ancient symbols of the First Nations people, modern technology is also a part of contemporary life.

The Eagle is using his cell phone.
Don't leave home without your iPod.
And closer to the floor, the Frog is emailing someone on his laptop.... but sadly I didn't take a picture of him. There's a photo and a description of the Totem Pole here.

If you have 22 minutes to spare, this video shows the creation of the Totem Pole from bare red cedar log to the finished item. Yes, it's a long video, but well worth watching. Make sure you watch around the 4 minute mark when the enormous log is split into two.

And here the carver Don Yeomans talks about the creative process and the installation.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Shibagau Shard

Shibagau Shard is a single 27 ton boulder of pre-cambrian granite. It sits outside the McMichael Art Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario.

Shibagau Shard was created by Canadian sculptor Bill Vazan in 1989. Petroglyphs and drawn pictographs of the early First Nations people of Ontario have been inscribed using sandblasting. Stunning with a sprinkle of snow on it.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Michael Kaeshammer comes to Town

I`ve been a serial volunteer at my local theatre ever since the theatre opened about 5 years ago, taking tickets, showing people to their seats, making popcorn, selling CDs, picking up garbage, doing whatever's necessary. I get to meet lots of interesting people, and see all sorts of movies, shows and concerts. It`s only a tiny small town theatre as theatres go.... just over 150 seats when totally full, but it was sold out on Saturday for Michael Kaeshammer.

You`ve never heard of him? Check out this video. I chose a Christmas number, well, just because.

Michael Kaeshammer attacks the piano with a terrific enthusiasm, I was wondering if the piano stool would survive! His fingers are a blur most of the time, I didn't know anyone could play the piano like that!

He was accompanied by Paul on the guitar (amazing!) and a fantastic drummer (sorry, I can't remember his name). All three musicians worked off each other constantly with smiles and grins. They seemed to have a secret musical language between them that translated into a memorable musical evening of joyful boogie-woogie, jazz, R&B, classics and just about everything else.

And not only does he play an incendiary piano, he sings too. And he's very easy on the eyes!

After the concert and the CD signings.... a hug for the volunteers! Michael Kaeshammer is used to performing to huge audiences at much larger venues than our little theatre, I'm so glad he was here. Come back soon, Michael, that was an amazing concert.

Thursday, 27 November 2014


I've been dabbling with the paintbrushes again. I took another acrylics painting course with my art teacher, which I really enjoyed and felt I learned a lot, but sometimes there are so many things to remember when planning a painting that I get overwhelmed and all inspiration flies out of the window.

16"x20" This is the old Co-Operative grain elevator beside the railway tracks in town. It's been disused for at least 25 years, and I'm sure it will be demolished eventually, as it's considered a dangerous eyesore, but I think it's an important part of town history, reminding us of the days when the town's main business was farming. I'll be sad when it's torn down.

 12"x16" My instructor showed us a picture of a tangle of trunks, branches and twigs and said "Interpret this any way you want". This is tissue paper, acrylic and Sharpie. I think it needs more... maybe some smaller branches?

9"x12" A view of the little community of Selvage on the east coast of Newfoundland, although a Selvage resident may not recognise it! Those cone shapes are supposed to be piles of crab traps. This was a sketch done in preparation for the bigger painting below. As you can tell, I like bright colours.
16"x20" Definitely not finished yet, still a lot of work left to do. And the colours have not really photographed well. I keep doing a little bit, then stepping away and thinking about it. Still not sure if I like it, and not quite sure where this painting is going.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Newfoundland Dogs

These two bronzes commemorate the famous dog breeds of Newfoundland and Labrador....  the Labrador Retriever and the Newfoundland Dog. The 1.5 scale sculptures were created in cast bronze over a stainless steel frame by Luben Boykov in 2003.

These dogs stand in Harbourside Park in St Johns, and whenever I'm there, I have to visit them and rub their noses for luck. A second set of these doggy sculptures was completed by Boykov in 2008 and stand halfway up Signal Hill outside the Geo Centre.

The Newfoundlands ('Newfs' or 'Newfies') have webbed feet and a water-resistant coat and were originally bred and used as a working dog for fishermen.  Newfoundland dogs excel at water rescue and lifesaving because of their muscular build, thick double coat, webbed feet, and innate swimming abilities.

But there's nothing better than the real thing..... these two sisters were taking their person for a walk on Signal Hill when I met them.  Their names are Jib and Mercedes.

Jib and Mercedes are well known characters in St Johns, as they greet all the cruise ships that arrive in the harbour. Friendly, soft to touch, lovely creatures, just as long as you don't mind lots of drool!