A woodcut image is made up solely of black-and-white contrasts. It refutes grey areas and the haze of subterfuge. It is plain, stark art, and so it is the perfect medium for mirroring the life of Canada’s 15th prime minister, the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Like Walker, I’m a child of the 1960s, and so my political and intellectual vision has been shaped by the fashions of thought and purpose that Trudeau brought to his premierships (1968–79, 1980–84). It was impossible to avoid his influence. The politician who comes alive again in the pages of this book was certainly not like any other – before or since – to strut into the House of Commons or dance into 24 Sussex Drive. He was unprecedented; he remains singular. Charismatic, photogenic, quick with a quip, and flexible in pose, posture, and style, he seemed as utterly at ease in his own skin as he was in buckskin – or in a tux. His character appeared dramatically un-Canadian. Unlike his predecessor, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, who survived two minority parliaments, he was no master of compromise.

The above is an excerpt from the introduction by George Elliott Clarke

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The Porcupine's Quill edition is typeset in Adobe Jenson. Printed on acid-free Zephyr Antique laid. Smyth sewn into sixteen page signatures with hand-tipped endleaves, front and back.

ISBN-13: 9780889843868

Publication Date: 2015-10-19

Dimensions: 8.75 in x 5.56 in

Pages: 192

Price: $22.95

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Marshall McLuhan (above) advised Trudeau on the 1968 election.

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Pierre Elliott Trudeau was one of Canada’s most charismatic--and polarizing--politicians. His tenures as Prime Minister during the 1970s and 80s were marked by conflict and crisis but also by a sense of nationalism, the development of multiculturalism and Canadian pride. He is known for invoking the War Measures Act in response to FLQ terrorism during the October Crisis; for introducing the Official Languages Act to improve the position of francophones in Canada; and, perhaps most memorably, for the patriation of the Canadian constitution and the establishment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Trudeau: La Vie en Rose pays tribute to the life and career of this influential Canadian. In a series of eighty wood engravings, George A. Walker documents Trudeau’s political achievements, events of cultural significance and famous friends while also capturing Trudeau’s confidence, passion and irreverence. Presented without captions and open to interpretation in any language, it is a testament to the multilingual culture of Canada and a celebration of the man whose political legacy has had a profound influence on the definition of Canadian culture.

Trudeau: La Vie en Rose originated as a limited edition of 15 copies hand printed in Walker’s studio in Leslieville, Toronto.

On September 28, 2000, Canada lost its most iconic statesman at the age of 80. This last engraving (pictured directly above) was made from a piece of maple wood from the tree that inspired Alexander Muir to write the song ‘Maple Leaf Forever’, an unofficial (English) Canadian national anthem for much of the early 20th century. Although the lyrics have a decidedly British imperialist overtone, and the song was unpopular among French Canadians at the time of its writing, Muir later changed the lyrics to include the French symbol of the fleurdelys. The song has had many versions and change s over the years. Similarly, Trudeau recognized that we, too, must constantly adapt. In 1970 he said, ‘The past is to be respected and acknowledged, but not to be worshipped. It is our future in which we will find our greatness.’

 

Above is the planning design for the box and the book showing the features to be incorporated into the final work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PIERRE ELLIOTT TRUDEAU: LA VIE EN ROSE

A biography in 80 wood engravings by George Walker

With an Introduction by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Preface by George Elliott Clark

Afterword by Tom Smart

Limited Edition Created: FALL 2015
Medium: 80 wood engravings hand printed on 250 gm Rising Stonehenge 100% rag archival paper and comes fully bound in leather with a clamshell protective box in quarter cloth with leather spine.
Book size: 6¼" X 8" X 2½" (232 pages printed recto)
Edition size: 15 copies signed and numbered (signed by Justin Trudeau, George Elliott Clarke, Tom Smart and George Walker)
Price: $2,500.00 CAN limited edition
Price: $22.95 CAN trade edition

The book is housed in a clam shell box made from the finest quality materials. Written in a xylography of pictures the book is accessible to readers of many languages.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau was one of Canada’s most charismatic—and polarizing—politicians. His tenures as Prime Minister during the 1970s and 80s were marked by conflict and crisis but also by a sense of nationalism, the development of multiculturalism and Canadian pride. He is known for invoking the War Measures Act in response to FLQ terrorism during the October Crisis; for introducing the Official Languages Act to improve the position of francophones in Canada; and, perhaps most memorably, for the patriation of the Canadian constitution and the establishment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Trudeau: La Vie en Rose pays tribute to the life and career of this influential Canadian. In a series of eighty wood engravings, George A. Walker documents Trudeau’s political achievements, events of cultural significance and famous friends while also capturing Trudeau’s confidence, passion and irreverence. Presented without captions and open to interpretation in any language, it is a testament to the multilingual culture of Canada and a celebration of the man whose political legacy has had a profound influence on the definition of Canadian culture.

Trudeau: La Vie en Rose originated as a limited edition of 15 copies hand printed in Walker’s studio in Leslieville, Toronto.

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Reviews, Articles, Quotes, Endorsements:

[Praise for The Life and Times of Conrad Black]
'Woodcut engraving is a demanding form, one that reduces images to a rudimentary boldness where everything depends on the contrast between black and white. Yet in Walker’s sure hands, these bluntly hewn images convey the full mystery of Conrad Black: his intelligence and his foolishness, his love of the glamorous spotlight and his reserve, his crudeness and his decorum. Whatever else you want to say about Conrad Black, he’s a complicated character. In this suite of drawings, Walker has done justice to Black’s complexity. Without using a word, Walker’s images give voice to the inner Black.’
—Jeet Heer, The Globe and Mail

[Praise for The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson]
The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson (Porcupine’s Quill), a graphic biography of Canada’s most mythic painter, is a masterpiece of both creation and reproduction. George A Walker’s series of more than a hundred woodblock prints moves beyond pure homage; it recasts surviving photographs of the artist with Thomson’s own manic paintings while also introducing searing new images. Virtually nothing is known about Thomson’s violent death, but Walker’s haunting depictions of the event are so striking that they seem to come from some morbid photographic source. The simplicity of the woodblock medium can make the narrative difficult to follow, but this turns out to be Walker’s great strength. He challenges his reader with a poetic ambiguity that makes for an active, rewarding read.’
Maisonneuve

[Praise for Book of Hours]
‘Walker has summoned the retrospective tension that exists for many after greeting the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 without a specific regard to personal safety, terrorism, or the rupture of simple daily ritual.’
—Rachel Farquharson, Huffington Post


‘George A. Walker, the talented wood engraver and ‘‘book artist’’, has composed The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson in 109 woodblock engravings presented in a handsome volume by Porcupine’s Quill. While reading Walker’s wordless narrative, one becomes eerily aware of silence: wordlessness itself becomes a mode of silence, and an agent of voiceless voicing, unheard dialogue and mute interrogation. In fact, it’s not easy to use words to describe what happens once you are engaged in this sequence of woodblock images: events proceed: a man, Tom Thomson, emerges as an increasingly solitary figure, slowly withdrawing from urbanity and emerging in the wilderness, where, as different versions have it (and Walker’s is one of them), he meets his fate. The effect of the wordless imagery is strangely acoustic: a silence filled with echoes. The book does not want to be put down; instead the reader, the observer, re-engages again and again, returning to read into the images a story that eludes understanding just as understanding seems to elude stories without words. This is a book for the shade on a bright summer day.’
Mandelbrot, Geist

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THE PROCESS

Each image is drawn in reverse onto a piece of endgrain Canadian Maple and then inked in with pen and brush before the enngraving process begins.The blocks are then engraved with spitstickers, scorpers and lining tools and readied for the press and first test proofs.

After preparing the block the image is pencilled and then inked before engraving.

All the areas that are not inked are engraved.

The Blocks are numbered and stored in boxes

Proofs are sorted and arranged in their order before being printed.

The Blocks are proofed on a Vandercook SP15 proof press.

After hand-sewng the books are cased in full leather

Each limited edition book is signed by the contributors. Above is the page showing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's signature. Below are the signing pages of George Elliott Clark and Tom Smart.