Monthly Archives: June 2012

The drawing

At first glance, there is nothing extraordinary about this piece of paper that is taped to the message board on the desk. Just a cute drawing that was ripped out of a textbook and colored during bored times. What keeps me from throwing this out is knowing where it comes from and what it stands for.

Here’s the story:

My man and I went to France for one semester during university. We lived in the idyllic region of the French Riviera, in a cute little apartment that was quite big and less than 150 steps away from the pebbled beach.

The town we lived in was quaint but, oh, so tedious for our adventurous souls!

Bars closed at 9pm and even if you dared to go in earlier, you’d feel like a strange creature by the way the locals observed you.

We weren’t that far from the big city (Nice), but limited transportation options at night kept us from doing anything past 9 pm too (bar that one Amadou & Mariam concert, and it took us over 1 hour to get home).

Basically, we spent our evenings watching the many, many documentaries that are shown on French TV, running on the promenade by the beach and planning trips that we took most weekends.

School was also a bore. I’d even go as far as saying that it was awful. Facilities, students and employees alike seemed worn out and glum, which didn’t make for a very fun experience. I’d thought that studying art history in a country with such a rich past would be great because after class, I could run to the museum to see those artworks live, and that was true.

However, the classes suffered from a severe lack of pertinent content, the teachers were obviously bitter and the students baffled me with their disrespectful behavior (speaking on the phone during class, talking back to the teacher for no good reason, walking in and out when desired).Lord knows I’m a proponent for disobedience when it’s needed but here it seemed so uncalled for.  It felt like I was back in high school, not in a faculty of higher education!

I also had lots and lots of problems with the administration, that ended up costing mucho dinero, but that is not what I want to focus on.

I ripped this drawing out a textbook, thinking it could serve to pass the time in another class since this book was being used in one of the two courses that I did enjoy.

It was a class on the art of writing about… art. I loved this class because the teacher was so posh, so akin to the romanticized image I had about studying in this country.

Every week, we had an assignment and it was serious work too. Who would’ve thought that I’d be happy to do homework? None of the other teachers asked us to do homework, let alone use our brains!

In a school where lack of structure reigned and destroyed any possibility of learning, this teacher’s rigorousness pleased me.

As for the other classes, I completely zoned out.

My attendance record was pretty good, as I thought it important to be there in case something crazy like actual content came out of it. So I spent most of the time in class, staying respectful to others of course, but not paying much attention to the stuff that was going on at the front of the class.

Books were read, Kinder Buenos were eaten, illusions were lost and drawings were colored.

Sad observation: filling in this particular image with a variety of shades was actually more challenging than most of the exams that tested our acquired knowledge at the end of the semester.

You may think that I am being overtly cynical about it, which is true, but I just can’t help it. When I tell people about the provenance of this drawing, they all stare at me with infinite envy and I can perceive the images of beautiful Provence that pop up in their mind when they think of studying in the south of France.  That is why I feel the need to tone their enthusiasm down a little bit, by emphasizing the negatives of our experience.

We did have positive things coming out of it. Many of them. In truth, they greatly surpass the negative. The fact is that the whole school experience was so bad that it needs an actual mise en garde for others thinking about going to that particular university, and, from what I’ve heard, many of them across the country (no offense French friends, great schools abound in your country too!).

As I said, happy times were aplenty during this four month period. The man and I bonded and definitely developed a strong relationship. We also got to travel so much, since once you are in Europe, everything is easily accessible by train, bus or plane.

Finally, I can say that this experience made me so much stronger and even more independent.

That’s what comes up when I look at this drawing.

The desk

I moved to the city 5 years ago, mainly for school, but also because I had always idealized living in an urban environment. Two of my friends from my hometown were already here, yet I consciously made the choice to get a room in an apartment that I would share with 2 roommates whom I did not know.

My new roommates, both girls, had already furnished the place. I just needed to fill my tiny little room.

Young, eager and priding myself in being independent from my family, I decided to buy my first big piece of furniture, a desk.

Now, you must know that in Montreal there isn’t such a wide array of options in furniture stores for a girl with a tiny budget so of course, I immediately gravitated towards the famous Swedish retailer.

That is where I found my chosen piece: the Mikael desk.

I must’ve paid it around 150$. That meant a week’s pay for me back then, so it had to be worth it!

I chose it because of its modern style, clean lines, and elegant appearance. I also loved it because it seemed very easy to adapt to any type of décor, which meant that I would be able to keep it for a long time and to always fit it to my ever-changing tastes.

The pride of having bought my own piece of furniture was immense, and setting it up with my brother was practically a bonding experience for us.

It’s already moved many times and set up camp in 4 different rooms. Scratches on the surface tell tales of the hard times I’ve given it, dropping various drinks and piling random objects on it.

During those years, its’ seen many a night of me researching subjects like post-impressionism or human rights in Burma, cramming info about Laswell’s theory of communication into my brain or writing reviews of new CD’s for my radio program at the university’s station.

Lately, mostly since I got a laptop, I’ve been neglecting the poor thing.

When I come around to decorating the office, it’ll once again be the main focus of the room and my man will get to enjoy the convenient design of this wonderful object.

The office

The first actual room you will enter, after having removed your footwear in the entrance, would be the office.

One day, grand things will happen here. Big decisions will be taken. Great minds will meet. Innovations will result.

I… will not be a part of any of these moments, as this is my man’s office!

He’s a business guy. Under 25 and already managing two companies of his own (one is old and very successful; the other is new and very promising). Obviously, the possibility of setting up a home office was a selling point for him.

The actual décor of the place is nonexistent for now. I’ve chosen most of the elements and the color scheme I want to use; I just need time to actually work on it (the office is 2nd to last in priorities as far as room decorating goes).  So for now, it’s just a bunch of things set up against the walls.

Even then, there are still stories to be told:

1-      The desk

2-      The drawing

The entrance

I collect art.

Nothing fancy, no big named pieces. I really wouldn’t care for that, even if I had mounds of money to spend.

I’m all about meaning, even though, sometimes, I also like to create art without specific content, but that showcases interesting color schemes and textures.

Here in the entrance of my home, you’ll find a piece of art that was created by my mom.

She is (trying to be) a professional artist. How that ends up working: art is her part-time career; an office job is her main occupation. It has been that way since I was born.

I think she is coming to terms with it, even though in her wildest dreams, she would still love to live off her creations.

For now, she’s been participating in solo and group exhibits a few times a year, among other creative endeavors (books, public art and funerary art).

For my birthday, 4 or 5 years ago, I decided I wanted a piece of her art to have in my apartment. I shared my idea with her and she was very happy about it so we went to her workshop together and she let me pick my favorite one.

Here it is.

I don’t really know if it has a title. Never though to ask (till now!).

I was just struck by the texture, the colors and the image.

My mom often uses mixed media, in that she takes a picture and uses it as a starting point to her creative process. She used to cut out pictures from magazines and employ those. However, since this practice entails walking a thin line with copyright to the authors of the photos, she has switched to taking her own snapshots now.

This particular artwork’s photo was probably first featured in a National Geographic magazine. The image was then set on a paper that my mother made by hand. After that, she chose an assortment of colors to create the atmosphere that she wanted to convey. Knowing her, she probably used a little bit of paint and a lot of pastel chalk.

There aren’t many examples of her work on the Internet (perhaps I should work on that!).

Click here to see more


Building the nest

We’ve been living here for almost ten months now.

This condo was an absolute coup de coeur for me right upon setting sight on it. My man was also keen on it, but not so happy about the price (a fairly good deal for the neighborhood). With much pleading and persuasive arguments, I managed to convince him to give these beautiful walls a chance.

We moved in at the end of august 2011, and soon after, entered a very hectic period in our lives.

Many things happened between August 2011 and March 2012, leaving little time for us to open most boxes, let alone decorate.

Finally, as things began to settle down, I started unpacking our belongings.

This place is still very much a work in progress, as I am working alone for the most part. To make this process more interesting, I have decided to go through my many objects and to bring meaning to them, either by researching their history, by recalling the tale of how they came into my life or by explaining their common use to you readers.

I hope you’ll enjoy these stories!

Come on in!