Author Archives: LisaO

Remembering a Fallen Soldier

It’s now November. The explosion of all things Christmas is about to begin. For me November 1st to the 11th is dedicated to remembering. My Grandad, Charles Henry Gooder fought in WW2 as a flight engineer bombing German U-boats in the north sea in the Royal Air Force. Hearing his stories in the later years of his life gave me a new perspective on the man he was as a soldier, a husband, a father and grandfather. Every year I have remembered for him and his contribution during the war.

Last year at this time (after watching War Junk on the History Channel) I became obsessed with finding out what happened to Grandad’s uncle and namesake Charles Henry Gott. His name had been mentioned to me over the years always proceeded with the ‘he was killed in the great war’. I wanted to see his picture, to honour his memory as he had died so young.

With the help of a wonderful lady at the museum in Horsforth England, as well as a war historian kind enough to return my email (with a crapload of information), and my own google searches, this is what I found:

Charles Henry Gott enlisted in October 1915 and was posted to the 1st Lifeguards. In 1916 he was transferred to the Household Battalion which was an infantry battalion formed from the reserves of the Household Cavalry regiment. The Household Battalion spent their entire existence on the western front as part of the 4th Infantry Division, 10th Brigade. Charles was a trooper, just another young soldier, no high rank. He was nearly 24 when he enlisted, and barely 25 when he arrived at the front.

May 3,1917 was a truly awful day for the British. The offensive on the 3rd and 4th of May, during the Battle of Arras was meant to force the Germans further east. This objective failed, they made no significant advances and the attack was called off after heavy casualties.

Quotes from the historian regarding the events on May 3 and 4th, 1917.

“On the front of the Household Battalion a German machine gun behind a wall held its fire till the line came level with it and then swept it in enfilade with devastating effect. A few men of this battalion and of the Irish Fusiliers reached the first objective, 500 yards east of the Roeux – Gavrelle road.”

“The confusion caused by the darkness; the speed with which the German artillery opened fire; the manner in which it concentrated upon the British infantry, almost neglecting the artillery; the intensity of its fire, the heaviest that many an experienced soldier had ever witnessed, seemingly unchecked by British counter-battery fire and lasting almost without slackening for fifteen hours; the readiness with which the German infantry yielded to the first assault and the energy of its counter-attack; and, it must be added, the bewilderment of the British infantry on finding itself in the open and its inability to withstand any resolute counter-attack.”

This is the battle where Charles Henry Gott, my great-great uncle was killed. His war record lists him as missing on 3-May-1917. Later his record is updated with ‘presumed dead’.

His remains may be buried in the grave of an unknown soldier or still be out on the battlefield. The Third Battle of the Scarpe, as the fighting over 3rd and 4th May was named, was an unmitigated disaster for the British Army which suffered nearly 6,000 men killed for little material gain.

Charles Henry Gott served less than 2 years for the British Army, he was just shy of 26 when he was killed in action. He was a foot soldier in the trenches on the front, no high rank. His name is on a plaque at the Arras Memorial in France, the Cenotaph in Horsforth, as well as plaques at his family church and service club. He is honoured. His story is much like many other young men that didn’t make it home.

Before he enlisted he worked as a cloth miller. He was 5’ 9” and weighed 140 lbs. His parents were William & Rhoda Gott, he had an older brother and sister, George & Bertha, and two younger sisters, Rhoda (my great grandmother) and Gladys.

Here is his picture.

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I needed to see his face once his story started to reveal itself to me. With the help of Susan at the Horsforth Museum the face of Charles Henry Gott landed in my inbox. I am forever grateful for her kindness and readiness to help from so far away.

This Remembrance Day I will honour my Grandad, Charles Henry Gooder as I do every year, but the moment of silence will be for Trooper C.H. Gott who fell silent on the battlefield in France on the 3rd of May 1917. His sacrifice will not be in vain.

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Courage & Humanity on 9.11.01

Pulling this out of the archives for 9/11. #courage #faith #humanity

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Here is a 9/11 story of a ‘friend’ that was in the tower that morning.  This is a powerful survivor’s account of courage and humanity on such a tragic day in US history.

Quite a few people have asked me quite a few times to post about my experiences on 9/11. A few months afterward, I was seeing a counselor for a while, and she told me to write it out like a journal entry. According to her, it would help me deal with things. So this is what I wrote.

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Warning: I’m going to try not to jump around, but I may a little bit, because I had quite a few blank spots during that morning. I put some of what I did together later, after speaking to two women I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge with, Doris and Hanna. I’ve been watching a few documentaries lately, so I’m…

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The Art of RSTAR

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I spend the better part of my days having typical conversations, in a typical world of ‘checking in and out’.  For that reason I have key people in my life that I go to so they can push me beyond the mundane and trigger the art within me.  On Earth Day nonetheless, I sat down virtually with Ryan Star, hoping and craving that he would indulge me with an “atypical” conversation rather than just another interview.

 

“I’m a fan of not-typical – like you – I’m not interested in checking in and checking out and checking in…” he says which elevates my confidence in the ‘interview’ format I chose for today’s conversation.  In this last month as the winter slowly comes to a close here in Muskoka (it takes a while in these Canadian parts) and spring starts to peak out from the dirt I start to ponder new indulgences into my own creativeness.  I’m not one to share my ‘art’ in the traditional sense; I don’t give it out willingly like a musician shares music with fans or a painter having a show at a gallery.  The ebb and flow of creating in any medium can be a struggle. I’ve always been curious how Ryan stays inspired to write songs and create his ‘art’.  I ask about his people and how it seems from my view that he surrounds himself with artistic characters:

 

“All the colours and the people come into my mind of who I’m thinking about….I like the uniqueness and specialness of people, when I watch Seinfeld and Kramer comes in the door like that and rockin’ through – in real life people are ‘like that fucking guy, the neighbor is so annoying’ – well I love it, I embrace that, that’s different, that’s fun, that’s special – it keeps it fresh.  With my friends, the people I surround myself with, they are atypical, they don’t fall into that standard, but the other thing is they aren’t off-the-wall crazy creative where they can’t function in reality creative”

 

“the creative ones pop up and I use them – but more importantly I’ve learned from an early age that just because the guy has a Grammy or a credit or whatever to his name doesn’t make them better than my friend who lives next door who’s just fresh and doesn’t care. I see talent in people and when I see that, I try and harness it”

 

This attitude is genuine and ‘very refreshing’ (tm Kramer); if I had a Junior Mint nearby I would have offered one to Ryan.   As an artist I truly believe that Ryan has an interesting way of seeing his world, it has a huge influence on how he has developed his craft over the last three albums.  I don’t believe he sees anything he’s done as a mistake “I willingly did things outside of my comfort zone to test the boundaries of what I’m willing to do and who I’m willing to be as an artist.…I went far and it was interesting. I now understand that.  But I like this more and I’m going to stay in this world more.  Legends can tell you that it’s the third record that they realize who they were.  It takes a second of going left and right until you finally bowl that strike.”

 

Ryan describes what he is doing now with Angels & Animals as a “modern version of Elephant”. He speaks passionately saying “I call it Nineties 2.0 – I’m proud of bringing back a rawness in such a computer world, try to bring back the heart, the same reason why kids want to hear records on vinyl, bring back the experience of listening to music.  I didn’t sign up to play musak or just one single, I didn’t sign up for that……I didn’t make this record thinking I should go play the game.”  As a fan, and one that follows closely, I will speak for the lot of us – we are glad Ryan isn’t playing the game – we want to hear what he wants to play.

 

Ryan goes on to say “the cool thing is I have you [fans] on the other end…when you are first starting you do it for yourself. Then you do it for the potential audience, and now I have an audience – it doesn’t matter small or big, I know who I’m singing to now.”  I interrupt and let it be known that we want him to do it for him – that’s what we want to hear.  Ryan poignantly jumps in and says “but at least I know what you like and it helps me get confident in what I like, because what you like happens to be what I like.  It’s very simple and it’s awesome….a lot of this record was done like that.  The rule was – if we think it’s good – it’s good.  If I like it, that’s it, I like it.  There was no editing, no 10 takes, you have one take to get this, but I’ll give you three takes.”

 

The refreshingness continues and I long for a Junior Mint.

 

He is very much a visual artist who translates what he sees into his music.  ‘This is How I See It’ is one of those sayings that is a constant reminder to me and one that pops up in my life often – it is the title of the biography of artist and photographer David Hockney, who has been a huge influence on how I look at my world.  Environment will influence and impact anyone’s life – creativity, mood, and general well-being, whether it is the Canadian Shield, or the pristine lakes of Muskoka in my case, or the Manhattan skyline Ryan gets to see every day, or the street art flanking the buildings in Brooklyn.

 

When asked about the ‘art’ that Ryan gravitates towards outside of music:

 

“Lately it is street art, and we talked about creative persons and this is someone that didn’t fall into my lap – I had to will to find this person.  His name is Pixote…he’s a street artist around Brooklyn and if you come here you will see his shit everywhere (themrpix on Instagram).  Every building has his tag.  It’s not what he is painting, it’s how he’s doing it and where he’s doing it.  There is something to it…it’s very tribal.  I literally looked up one day and thought  – I have to find this guy.  Next thing I know he’s doing the art with me on the album and has become a friend.  It also turned out that he was in a rock band that opened up for my band Stage years ago, the connections were pretty incredible.

 

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Pixote is the epitome of underground NYC subculture, and Ryan has gone back the basics with Angels & Animals releasing this album without major label support: he says ‘the music consistently follows my environment more than I create the music’.  The artistic connections between these two artists goes beyond the inner 12-year-old boy and his skateboard.  They are both purists with their art forms, indie musician and elusive graffiti artist.  The collaboration on Angels & Animals has these over-lapping subcultures creating a raw version of the rstar entity that jumps back to ‘elephant’, and at the same time launches Ryan Star miles forward.

 

What is good and who decides?  I’m in the midst of an ABC Playlist project and how could I not ask Ryan to contribute?  As my list is a work in progress there was no harm in skipping ahead to R – for rstar.  We decided that he’d give me five songs – what he’s listening to…what he can throw at me in this particular moment.  Of course he defers to songs on the cover challenge and we agree those are a good start but he still needs to give me five.  Here they are….

 

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  • Frank Ocean – Bad Religion
  • The National – Fireproof
  • Bon Iver – Perth
  • Band of Horses – No Ones Gonna Love You (although he gave me the choice of this or Is There A Ghost – both equally great songs)
  • Matthew Good – Strange Days “for the Canadians” he says. We had a lengthy discussion about our mutual love of Matt Good.  Strange Days is the song that led Ryan to MG (not his favourite, which he never did divulge)

 

And the songs from the cover challenge if you aren’t familiar with it…..

 

Challenge Songs

  • Tori Amos – Crucify
  • Pixies – Where is My Mind?
  • Pearl Jam – Black
  • Tool – Sober
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  • Chvrches – The Mother We Share
  • Bastille – Overjoyed
  • The 1975 – Chocolate
  • Imagine Dragons – Demons
  • Leonard Cohen – If It Be Your Will

 

If at the end of the cover challenge Ryan says ‘fuck it I’m covering xxx’ then you know that he took to heart my granting him permission to rig it.  Blame Canada – it’s been done before!

 

The challenge talk turned into full-on music chat about The Pixies and the fact that they were one of the first bands I saw live way back when, loving the music we grew up on and trying to engage the younger generation.  Ryan says “I’d love to talk to the 16-year-olds right now and get them into cool shit” and he speaks with excitement about showing his younger cousin the way with artists like Jeff Buckley.  The generational connection we have is clear – we like many of the same artists, support the same causes (see dog rescue information below), and we see the world around us uniquely.  Perhaps this is the Gen-X way of living in 2014?  The years in which we came of age shaped us all into the people we are now – connecting us all with the music, art and lifestyle from our past.  Nostaglia is present, and when you experience the full circle – second time around effect – you see how it was the first with clarity and the phenomenon of ‘enlightenment’ is very refreshing. (I just couldn’t help myself with that one)

 

The conversation turns into an all-out Canadian geography lesson explaining the location of cottage country and the venue “The Kee To Bala” where Matt Good plays every summer. “I love Matt, he’s my favourite.  He’s amazing.  I chatted with him on the phone for a few hours.  He knows more about American politics than I do.  We were talking about him producing some songs off Songs for the Eye of an Elephant and then I went on a TV show.  Sliding doors, you know”  GAH!!!  Imagine that, a MG/RSTAR collaboration.  Maybe someday?  A girl can dream…..

 

“You need to say ‘Ryan wants to come hang’ next time we are in the area. We’ll make a detour, I really want check it out….I need to get a gig at The Kee, that would be sweet”  is how Ryan closes the conversation.

 

I’m holding you to that, Mr. Star.

 

Cheers,

 

LisaO. @lila_lyric

 


The View of a Photograph Series – One.

Seeing a photograph isn’t about the electrical signal light creates when it hits the retina, it isn’t about the translation to an image the brain then creates.  The emotion the photograph begets is when the visual acuity sharpens.  A two-dimensional image doesn’t live on a flat surface when you view a photograph with your more than just your eyes.

 

I’m intrigued by windows and frames, the view through space we occupy, the perspective we see in every moment.  I spend time trying to focus on only my peripheral vision and wonder how it could translate to a photograph.  Would others see this photograph and recognize it as the periphery of one’s vision?  I quickly dismiss this idea as it seems impossible to recreate, and assume it would make a horrible photograph.  I take my peripheral visionary moments and practice Zen Photography, as every photograph I take with my Zen camera is most excellent and worthy of the utmost praise from the ‘people’ who will see it.

 

I want to share with you a few photographs over the coming weeks.  Photographs where the perspective is peculiar, with extrinsic qualities.

 

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Photograph #1 “A Street in Old Beijing” by Marc Riboud, a french photographer.  The photographer seems to be hiding himself from the people on the street in order to capture perhaps a natural moment.  There are six windows that give the photographer and view of the photograph a look into the street.  The top three almost seem insignificant as there are no people, which upon close inspection you see that the sign reads ‘Prosperity’ in the top left, the smallest window shows space above the storefronts where these people must live – a place that would give you a view from above and into the place the photographer is standing.  The far right window is vast and quite empty except for the small reflection which gives you a view of behind the image.  Not terribly important but it adds to the depth of the viewpoints in this photograph.

 

There are three people in this photograph that see beyond the storefront that separates them from the photographer.  The youngest of the viewers isn’t phased by the intrusion, the older man seated seems content in his position and not burden by what is happening anywhere in his surroundings.  The young women in the frame on the right has a reluctance about her, she sees the photographer and looks as though she is pleading in silence.  Once your focus comes to her your viewpoint changes.  For me I no longer see the window frames, I no longer see the Chinese characters in the signs or the two others looking into the windows.  My viewpoint instantly goes into my head, or her head and I’m seeing and feeling her emotion.

 

This photograph came from one moment, one lens, one viewpoint but the perspective is vastly complex.

 

I leave you with a quote from one the masters of photography, know for bringing a poetic spirit and texture to his work.

 

At first glance a photograph can inform us. At second glance it can reach us. – Minor White

 

~Lila


Throwback Thursday; when there was no app for that.

I love creating pictures on my iphone, using the camera, finding cool apps to manipulate the photos and sharing on social media.  For a Throwback Thursday I thought I would share a collection of pictures by David Hockney….all created pre-digital era.  David Hockney is an important artist contributing to the pop are movement in the 60s.  I may have mentioned him before as his ‘vision’ has always intrigued me and his work continues to inspire me.

Hockney is a painter, a photography, a printmaker and a set maker.  Just recently I learned that he has been creating drawings on his iphone and ipad http://www.hockneypictures.com/iphone_pages/iphone_etcetera-01.php  check them out!   I see his current work as innovative, and showing a truly masterful artist working with the media of the times and constantly re-inventing his work and his art.

To get to the point of today’s throwback blog.  Lets go back and look at Hockney’s collage work.  These pieces are from his ‘photographic collages’ and ‘composite polaroids’ collections in the early 80s.  Long before photoshop, long before the digital age of manipulation.  He would take these pictures as quickly as possible, each image was a blink of the eye and the overall assembly of the images was what he was seeing as he looked and moved in that moment.  He was taking a series of still photographs and extending them from a nano second in time and creating a larger moment.

 

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This is Pearblossom Highway, the collage that made me seek out David Hockney.  I have this on my wall and look at it everyday.  Putting this together must have been tedious work!  I need to visit this location someday.

 

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So there is your throwback Thursday.

Cheers,
Lila

 


The Whimsical World of Gnomes – Naomi Brinkhof

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Naomi Brinkhof is an award winning multidisciplinary artist who resides and creates in her home studio, Nom’s Home Studio, in Muskoka Ontario, Canada.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Noms-home-studio/170681766328965

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She has created a world, surrounded in the beauty of nature, that helps elevate her inspiration and drive her creative forces. Her world is gnomes and her whimsy is clever and completely genuine. Here is a what she says about her art, her environment and what keeps her in this whimsical world:

“My creative process usually starts in the middle of the night causing a lovely week long bout of insomnia. I tend to be an over thinker (aren’t most artists?). I will be laying in bed trying to figure out all logistics, colours choices, mold shaping, production timing for hours before my feet even step into the studio. Once in the studio, I start laying down my jumbled night time thoughts into something tangible and workable. I work in a variety of materials in a variety of ways. I am a painter and printmaker as well as a production artist. When I paint I know i’m creating one of something, I can go over design layout and colour choices for days before I actually put paint to canvas. With my production work I need to design something that I can make over and over again. Sometimes by designing a basic sizing mold or by figuring out the ‘pattern’ of making it by hand so it is made in the most efficient way possible, a part in the process that I take great pride in. Which you need when you’ve made your 400th plus of something.

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My working environment is small and cluttered, but that’s how I like it. Every single part of the little studio room is used. Who’s kidding who, my whole house is now part of the environment, much to the shagrin of husband? It is a bit of organized dusty chaos sometimes driving me more or less crazy with its small stature, but it what I have and one day I plan to have a bigger studio – but I wonder if my creative process will be the same? Most artists made do with what they have, they make it work, there is no choice. So with music playing and my view of my yard I create, and the world around me transforms into a whimsical garden of gnomes.

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Art is to me is someone’s creation. What connects me to someone’s art is just that, a connection. I find the connection changes all the time, depending so much on mood, history, technique, colour, what you had for lunch…constantly changing. What appealed to me when I was younger may not now, nor what I like now might appeal to my older self. I consider myself both an artist and a crafts person. I have found that some artists don’t see the credibility of the crafts person which saddens me. Some of my work may not be as emotionally driven, (what making naked gnomes in leafs isn’t emotional?) but there is still an element of design, colour, technique that applies in all creative processes that should be considered when looking at work.”

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Naomi (or Nom as she is called most often) can be found on Facebook @ Nom’s Home Studio. Give her a LIKE on Facebook and watch for details on her Etsy Store opening later this month!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Noms-home-studio/170681766328965

Nom’s gnomes travel all over the world – here is Tobia’s the travelling gnome’s facebook back – follow as he does a cross-Canada trek! https://www.facebook.com/groups/420373981428790/

From his stop at the Confederation Bridge!
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Or send her an email at nomshomestudio@gmail.com


Coming Soon!!!!!!!!!

Hey there followers!

Beat & Lyric will now be featuring contributions from artists of all mediums – poetry, short stories, features on painters, photographers, sculptors. The quirky, the serious and the outrageous!

If you know an artist that would like to be featured, or if you are an artist that would like to contribute please drop us an line at beatandlyric@gmail.com

Stay tuned for a feature on Nom’s Home Studio & artist Naomi Brinkhof as our first contributer!

Cheers,
Lila

p.s. – remember to follow us on facebook for tid bits of fun!


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