The Heritage Camera Collection more than doubled in size this past January thanks to the generous donation of approximately 500 cameras and pieces of camera equipment from Wilfrid Laurier University. The collection improves the holdings in European and Japanese manufacturers, and provides a greater selection for research in early camera designs.
This past weekend the Ryerson Theatre School celebrated its 40th anniversary, but the history of student theatre on campus goes back well beyond that of the school. In 1951 the Ryerson Opera Workshop was first offered, headed up by English professor Jack McAllister. Students across campus, in any program, were invited to participate. The inaugural production was an exciting double bill of The Devil and Daniel Webster and Down in the Valley; the first was a re-telling of the classic Faust tale using a poor farmer as the lead character who sells his soul to the devil, and the second, a folk-opera peppered with famous American songs, including the titular “Down in the Valley.” According to newspaper reviews at the time, the shows were a success for the new Workshop.
Although the name implies something different today, the Opera Workshops focused on popular musical theatre, and the repertoire included Broadway hits like Once Upon a Mattress, Bye Bye Birdie, Snow White, The Wizard of Oz, The Beggar’s Opera and Peter Pan.
In the 1970s, Ryerson established the Theatre School and became one of the first professional schools in North America to offer training in all aspects of the theatre arts, from technical production to arts administration. It wasn’t long after the first cohort of theatre students appeared on campus that the extracurricular productions of the Ryerson Opera Workshops finally ceased. The last performance by the Opera Workshop was a children’s show entitled Stick with Molasses (1976). Today, the popular student musicals are replaced by an ambitious program of student-driven work throughout the year.
To see what else we have regarding the Ryerson Opera Workshop click here
In a shocking but not completely unforeseen announcement last week, the Kodak corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States.
As little as a decade ago, the future for Kodak still seemed bright. Company literature produced in the 1990s confirmed Kodak Canada’s optimism that digital photographers would continue to look to Kodak for leadership and innovation in image-taking technologies. The move to digital would be slow and considered, with Kodak confident that the right product was better than any product.
Was this transition too slow? Is Kodak still the master camera-maker it once was? Ryerson Professor Robert Burley and Curatorial Specialist Beth Knazook speculate on the unfortunate circumstances that have left Kodak in its current position.
Matt Galloway speaks with Robert Burley on CBC’s Metro Morning radio show (Thursday, Jan 19 2012): http://www.cbc.ca/metromorning/episodes/2012/01/19/unthinkable/
CBC reporter Havard Gould interviews Robert Burley and Beth Knazook for The National (Thursday, Jan 19 2012): http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/TV_Shows/The_National/1233408557/ID=2188640879
Architectural models breath life into otherwise straightforward ideas on paper; they easily and quickly communicate complex design schemes, embellishments, finishes and details, and they facilitate an easier dialogue between architect and client. Well-crafted architectural models even win competitions. While these models are very rarely preserved once building is begun, the realized design in miniature form represents the very essence of the architectural practice.
From January 4th- February 13th, 2012, photographs of models taken for Canadian Architect magazine will be on display in Special Collections on the Library’s 4th floor. These images were originally captured for project announcements, and today they give us as much to discuss as the finished buildings themselves. See the process that the architect goes through when bringing his or her idea to the public, and consider some of the challenges the architect faces in communicating with that audience. Is it useful to see the detailed model superimposed onto a photograph of the existing landscape, as with the Toronto Eaton Centre image? Why do some architects choose to put contextual detail in the model itself, making tiny trees and cars on the adjacent streets? Every model has a purpose and an audience, which is perhaps even more apparent in the scenic model taken from the set design for a CBC television special [borrowed from the Robert Hackborn collection for comparison’s sake]. With this model, the purpose is to show the interior to the cameras – not the exterior to a client.
Whatever the goal with these miniature worlds, either to emulate a real three-dimensional building as closely as possible or three walls that merely suggest one, the model serves as a stepping stone to the final idea. Here the idea of architecture is on display – judge for yourselves whether the real lives up to the imagined.
Style changed forever in the 1960s (and we’re not just referring to the hemlines). Space-age design met space-age fabrics, many of which are still in use today: polyamide, polyester, acrylic, polyvinyl, and spandex to name a few. These are laboratory-brewed fibres, extruded through spinnerettes in liquid or molten petro-chemical streams. These were cheaper and more versatile than many of the natural fibres used in clothing up to this point.
The dresses currently on display in Special Collections each use an unexpected fabric to achieve their look, whether it is the plasticized cloth of this shiny-copper mini-dress, the silver lurex suit with multicolored threads from the disco-influenced 70s, or the 100% silk power suit from the 80s. Visit Special Collections today to see these fashionable fabrics produced by Canadian designers.
The dresses in this exhibit were taken from the Fashion Research Collection at Ryerson University, a collection of costume items, accessories, flat textiles and paper patterns donated to the School of Fashion for use in teaching and research. The collection consists of about 4,500 items of mid-twentieth century men’s, women’s and children’s clothes and accessories and illustrates many of the social, cultural, technological and economic influcences on style made or worn in Canada. It contains designs by leading Canadian figures such as Beate Ziegert, Ira Berg and Pat McDonagh, as well as internationally famous names such as Sonia Rykiel, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Givenchy, Diane von Furstenberg, Perry Ellis, Laura Ashley, Thierry Mugler and Valentino. There are also pattern and reference books, magazines and articles which are not duplicated in the Ryerson Library catalogue, making this a rich and valuable resource for fashion education.
The Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection cameras are still on display in our summer exhibit on the 4th floor, but in today’s post we’re thinking outside the little black box. Although Kodak was easily the most popular camera manufacturer of the 20th century, and their products form the bulk of our camera collection, there were and are still other mass-market brands. One such company was Ernst Leitz, GmbH, located in Wetzler, Germany.
Leitz opened for business as an optical manufacturer called Ernst Leitz Optische Werke, an appropriate start for a brand that would become known for producing photographic lenses that rendered even small negatives sharp and clear. Their improved lenses allowed the Leica camera to use 35mm film, then the common gauge for motion picture film. Although 35mm stock was readily available to be chopped up as still film, the Leica was the first camera to make enlarging those small frames with clarity possible. Most consumer film cameras today use some variation of the Leica camera body design, spreading rolled film across the camera horizontally, from left to right and rewinding from right to left when each frame has been exposed. Add to these innovations a self-capping shutter that ensured an even exposure and it is easy to see why this portable, professional camera brand became the gear of choice for documentary photographers.
Disney, Michael (2001). The Leica and the development of the modern 35mm camera. Retrieved July 22, 2011 from Eight Elm Photo & Video website:
Taking a vacation this summer or just dreaming of one? Either way you can fantasize about the lovely pictures you’d take with one of the cameras on display in Special Collections. Visit us on the 4th floor of the Ryerson Library this summer to see a rotating display of cameras from the past.
First up: Kodak through the years, featuring still and motion-picture cameras from the company’s early years right up to the Advantix point and shoot system popular in the 1990s. Film projectors like the Kodascope (see below), are also on display.
Photographs from Flora and Flutterbyes: Nature as Inspiration and Decoration currently on display in Special Collections, April 21 – June 8, 2011. Specimens courtesy the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory.
The idea for the springtime butterfly theme emerged from the same cocoon as another great exhibit idea: the Ryerson student-curated “With Us at Every Age: Selected Animal Photographs from the Mira Godard Research Centre” (runs April 13 – May 7, 2011 at the IMA Gallery as part of the CONTACT Photography Festival). The student exhibit explores human-animal relationships through photography, and it includes the traditional and heart-warming portraits we expect to see of people and pets (cats and dogs included), but also draws attention to some of our more irrational relationships. The exhibit invites us to consider our creation of rare to absurd animalia: a toy stork in a children’s window display or a bear rug on a wall, and shows us images of aging with pets (and pet-themed ceramics). The use of photography as the medium works to both invite the viewer into these intimate worlds, yet provides a safe distance from which to consider the animals we have not treated so well.
For all the birds, reptiles and mammals that are showcased, we couldn’t help but notice a distinct avoidance of that other class of animals we see daily: insects. Though hardly the type of creature to develop a lasting bond with, these misunderstood and sometimes repellant animals also inhabit our homes and inform our relationships with each other. In some cases, as with the butterfly, the insect is seen as a source of inspiration and enjoyment. The butterfly’s colours are copied for our clothes, its pattern in flight informs our social graces, its taste for the most vibrant and delicate flowers expresses a certain model of femininity, and its ability to withdraw from the world and transform helps us describe our desire for second chances. The butterfly is so familiar, but unlike the subjects in “With Us at Every Age,” how many have we ever seen? Using both photography and preserved specimens, we invite you to browse the 4th floor display and be inspired by nature.
The butterfly specimens were borrowed from the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, where at least 2000 free-flying tropical butterflies and moths are on exhibit throughout the year. Bred in Costa Rica or the Philippines, these vibrantly-coloured species metamorphose on arrival in Canada inside equally colourful chrysalides (also know as pupae), and flit about their business in an indoor rainforest as part of an effort to preserve butterfly populations through a sustainable form of agriculture. Here they offer us a fascinating look at the incredible variety of species in the wild.
In the early 1950s, the first large scale north-south cultural exchanges in Canada established the market for what we now refer to as Inuit Art. The first communities to begin selling their work to a southern market in any organized way were Inukjuak and Puvirnituq (Quebec) and Cape Dorset/Kinngait (Baffin Island). The sculptures from this early period tend to be small, easily transportable works created by what was still a nomadic people. In the late 1950s and early 60s, carving became a significant source of income within newly formed Inuit-owned co-operatives, and for many today it continues to provide a living while also supplying the means to express pride in their culture and their craft.
Special Collections received a donation of Inuit sculpture from a former Ryerson student who actively collected, both through galleries in the Toronto area and in person at northern co-ops. The small display on the Library’s 4th floor offers us an opportunity to discuss the use of materials from different regions, as she collected examples from across the Arctic (perhaps favouring Baffin Island and Labrador), and the growing art production within the Inuit communities over the latter half of the 20th century. The display also precedes the opening of a much larger exhibition of contemporary Inuit art scheduled to open at the Art Gallery of Ontario on April 2nd: Inuit Modern: The Samuel and Ester Sarick Collection. To learn more about these items and their creators, visit Special Collections and the AGO this spring.
Miki, Andy, 1918-1983 Bird figure, abstract [date unknown] stone, dark to light grey Arviat, Kivalliq region of Nunavut
Palliser, William, 1947- Hunter in Kayak, 1996 North West River Area, Labrador
Pisuktie, Josie, 1901-
Bird figure, black
Iqaluit, Baffin Island region of Nunavut
Sannertannu, Annie Anaronar, 1913-
Repulse Bay/ Naujaat in Nunavut
For those of you who were not able to visit the Library during the meet-and-greet with student designers last week, you still have two more weeks to view the products of their labour in the Special Collections display cases on the 4th floor. Students in a first year Interior Design course at Ryerson partnered with The Stop Community Food Centre to design a fund-raising item for their annual gala, which helps raise money for The Stop’s critical anti-hunger programs and services.
The exhibit was curated by Professor Lorella Di Cintio. Items will be on display from Feb 22nd to March 7th.