Friday, April 7, 2017

Annora Brown: Handcraft and Art

Annora Brown
Joyce Sasse - That Annora Brown received an honourary membership from the Canadian Handicraft Guild is no mere footnote to her story. It indicated a major life-long passion.  She graduated from the Ontario College of Art with a Diploma in Applied Design (Honours). This was at a time when a great National effort was being made to elevate crafts to a higher status – beautiful, useful and saleable creations.
Annora’s earliest response to the economic challenges she faced, when called back to Fort Macleod to be a care-giver, was to think through how she could design and sell her midget paintings for $1. Each was a touch of beauty which her Depression-challenged neighbours could afford.

So many of her illustrations make me want to take embroidery thread and needle in hand. For the Guild, she produced “One hundred formalized motifs of Western themes: flowers, birds, grain elevators, fences, telephone lines, the four seasons – all for reproduction in needle work and hooked rugs.”

In addition, in Patricia Alderson’s thesis we read “symbols of Alberta formed the basis for her designs, including native flowers, prairie birds, the Rockies, grain elevators, cowboys, Mounted Police, deer and Indian themes.”

Encouraging quality art among Indian and Eskimo crafters, and helping them develop a market for their work, was an important initiative of the Canadian Handicraft Guild. Here, too, Annora Brown avidly made her contribution by encouraging and helping preserve the design-motifs of the Blackfoot people.

J.M. Dent & Sons brought this work directly into classrooms and homes with the books they published that featured Annora’s illustrations. (It is estimated she completed 600 illustrations for 8 books.)

At Art School she repeatedly received awards (including scholarships) for the various “design” submissions she crafted. In 1935 her batik received recognition in an Alberta Exhibition. She worked with stained glass. Each of her flower paintings is wonderfully crafted with hints of leaves and rocks, grasses and insects that give context and vitality. For Annora Brown art and craft became one.

Does anyone have samples any of her hand-crafted work? To be treasured!

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