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Montgolfiere Weekly

An exploration of culture in its many forms

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A conversation with Stuart Kinmond

Please could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I live and work as an artist in Ottawa. I am originally from Montreal, where I trained to be an architect. I worked for 25 years as an architect in Montreal, Yellowknife and Ottawa.

What sorts of buildings did you design?

In my final year at McGill School of Architecture, I worked with a community in St. Henri in Montreal that was fighting the proposed demolition of a part of their neighbourhood to allow for the construction of a new exit from the highway. We proposed alternatives to the city, including the construction of in-fill housing. The exit was relocated and the proposal for in-fill was accepted. Together with my visiting professor, Ray Affleck of a firm called Arcop Associates, we designed and built 15 small units on vacant lots. It was the first in-fill public housing built in Montreal. The buildings are still there between Atwater and rue Lacasse.

I had always wanted to live in the north, so a few years later I moved to the Northwest Territories. At first I worked for the government on school projects, but I was managing architects rather than being an architect, which is what I wanted to do. Also, I felt that I was on the wrong side of the fence at a time when young native leaders were demanding more power from Ottawa. I left the government and then worked for the Dene, designing many houses, two community centres and band offices in the Mackenzie Valley. Continue reading “A conversation with Stuart Kinmond”

A conversation with Sarah Goodey

Please could you tell us a bit about yourself and your photography?

I have always taken pictures. I consider myself an artist who uses photography in her work. I mainly use analogue or film cameras, though I do have a high-quality digital camera on my phone. I also make cyanotypes, which involves placing objects like leaves or buttons directly onto using sun-sensitive paper and exposing them to light to make a contact print. Continue reading “A conversation with Sarah Goodey”

A conversation about The Museum of Possibilities with Barbara Sibbald

Barbara Sibbald’s collection of short stories, The Museum of Possibilities, was published by The Porcupine’s Quill Press

First, I should declare that Barbara Sibbald is a friend, a colleague and a contributor to this blog. Second, like one of her characters who is reading a short story in “Things We Hold Dear,” “I usually don’t read short stories. I like a longer relationship with my fictional company.” In spite of my usual preference for a more lengthy narrative, I found the stories in The Museum of Possibilities highly entertaining, being tightly constructed and inventive, and featuring unsparing observation of the human condition in its mundane failures, though these are recounted with a dark and witty relish. Continue reading “A conversation about The Museum of Possibilities with Barbara Sibbald”

A conversation with Astri Prugger

Please would you tell us a bit about yourself and your business?

My name is Astri Prugger and I’m from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. My mother is from Norway and my father from Austria. Having that background has always been important to me. The cultures of these two countries have influenced much of my life. I always liked to draw and used to draw pictures of girls with different kinds of clothes for my friends. I suppose that I have been doing custom drawing since I was ten. I hadn’t intended to be a fashion designer. I had wanted to be a ballet dancer and my teachers wanted me to audition for the National Ballet, but my parents didn’t want me to move so far away. Continue reading “A conversation with Astri Prugger”

Welcome to Montgolfiere Weekly!

This blog exists because I wanted to do a different kind of writing from the writing I did in my day job, and I even managed to persuade some of my friends to contribute their thoughts on culture in its many forms, from the visual arts, letters and music to human health, habits and customs, with occasional references to hot air ballooning. Here I revisit some great conversations about making art.

Featured post

Managing visitors and protecting rock art heritage: A sad story from Los Haitises, Dominican Republic

By Julie Harris

In his manual Managing Tourism at World Heritage Sites, Arthur Pedersen advises that “Directing governments, site managers and visitors towards sustainable tourism practices is the only way to ensure the safekeeping of our world’s natural and cultural heritage.” A visit in recent years to Los Haitises National Park in the Dominican Republic demonstrated how difficult it can be to develop, encourage and enforce sustainable tourism practices in many countries, especially when tourists just don’t care. Continue reading “Managing visitors and protecting rock art heritage: A sad story from Los Haitises, Dominican Republic”

The accidental development tourist

By Mark Fryars

OK, so you know what and where SNNPR is, right? No? Oh! Well, in short, it is a region in Ethiopia, a few hours’ drive south of the capital, Addis Ababa. It’s home to some 45 ethnic groups, and its 15 million people speak 12 different languages. Half the population are Protestants, one in five are Orthodox Christian and the remainder are Muslim, Catholic or other religions. So, pretty diverse.  Continue reading “The accidental development tourist”

Travelling in Japan: Koyasan

By Patricia Lightfoot

Here is the final instalment of a brief tour of Japan presented through the Japanese words I practised each day. After Kyoto, we went to Mount Koya or Koyasan, which is an area of religious significance, being the centre of Shingon Buddhism.  One attraction for visitors, apart from the town’s natural setting in the mountains, its history, its many temples and other religious buildings, is the opportunity to stay in a temple lodging, Continue reading “Travelling in Japan: Koyasan”

The list

My take on travel planning has always been impulsive, so I was intrigued to learn about a friend’s more methodical approach. This friend prefers not to leave a digital footprint, so her name is not included here. PL

 Please tell us about your list

As far back as I can remember, I have had what some people call a “bucket list.” It comes from my childhood, when my parents impressed upon us that we shouldn’t take life for granted and then regret missed opportunities. Embracing the next travel opportunity, both near and far, was a common topic of conversation and, arguably, the glue that connects us as a family. Some travel adventure stories make for great dinner conversation, like my father recounting his unorthodox journey to find the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or my sibling’s first trek to Machu Picchu. While other stories, often the most meaningful experiences in my view, are best shared only with those we love. I remember what the sun felt like while exploring the Cinque Terre or how the air smelled like citrus in Capri, which doesn’t exactly make for tantalizing dinner conversation, but these are some of my favourite memories nonetheless. Continue reading “The list”

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