Friday, December 17, 2010
Moving through to the salon we listened to the wwp band, The Elegant Hedgehogs. Formed less than 4 months ago, and growing out of an impromptu band jam weekend (see our August post for more details) at the Nurtury, band members Wendy (guitar), Heather (clarinet), Sue (clarinet), Sherrie (guitar), and Linnet (flute) not only looked very elegant in their 'hedgehogs rock' T-shirts (bought specially and arriving just in time for the occasion)...The quintet also showed just what comes of that old mantra - "practice, practice, practice" - and a passion for playing together. The segue between the band's three pieces and the wwp choir's contribution to the evening was an ensemble rendition of The Rainbow Connection. This was only the second time that the band and choir had joined forces (the first was a run-through rehearsal last week) and the result was amazing. Choir members Kathy, Linda, Janice, Marian and Linnet then proceeded to entertain us with some wonderful numbers, ranging from the soulful Down to the River to Pray to the foot-tapping Sunny Side of the Street. Choir director Kathy and pianist Linda then organized us all into a participatory Carol singing session. After warming up our voices on those familiar old chestnuts of the holiday season, the seasonal sing-song culminated in wwp's now 'traditional' singing of The Christmas Gloria in two-part harmony. We were great! Or at least, so the resulting high fives that followed this year's glorious rendition of the song would indicate.
After a break for some festive refreshments, we had a visit from Ms Claus (Pat) and her faithful elf (Sue) who gave out presents in true Santa style! Towards the end of the evening we gathered to talk about the proposed table runner for the Nurtury. Each member explained the significance of the piece of fabric she is contributing to the runner that will celebrate the 2 year mark of wine women and philosophy. We all took inspiration from the beautiful quilt that Sheelah is currently working on with her quilting group, and Sheelah gave us some ideas as to how we might pull our own quilting project together. Liz suggested that we should make a weekend of it - sitting round the fire up at the Nurtury, drinking some wine, doing some applique, and sewing up the runner. Not surprisingly, there were many keen takers for this idea.
As ever a big thanks to everyone who participated in last night's salon - we really are blessed with wonderful members! Two years on, we feel that we are in the midst of a special collective energy and truly believe that wine women and philosophy is being nurtured and propelled by more than just us. It is so rewarding to see our dreams for a women-driven pedagogy emerging out of what we have created together. We are delighted to welcome new members Barbara Ann, Nancy and Brenda to the fold. And, in addition to them, we want to thank Marianne, Kathy, Wendy, Heather C, Bernice, Janice, Carolyn, Pat G, Sue, Elizabeth, Allannah, Heather D, Marilyn, Patrice, Sheelah, Rose, Linda, Marian and Sherrie for making the party something special to remember.
If anybody took photos of the evening please send them along. As you can tell, we were too busy having a good time to take more than this one photo of the band and choir warming up - hardly a representative picture of this entire evening's participatory action! And for those members who have yet to drop off their fabric for the table runner, we're waiting...
We wish all our members and supporters a very happy holiday. See you next year!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Last Saturday, 6 wwp members paid an impromptu visit to see Judy Chicago's latest exhibition in Montreal - Judy Chicago in Glass at the Musee des Maitres et Artisans du Quebec in Saint Laurent until January 9, 2011.
Our interest in Judy Chicago had been rekindled when we celebrated her seminal 1970s The Dinner Party installation at one of our summer salons...We were interested to see what Judy Chicago was up to these days.
You have to make a reservation to see the show...For $7 we got a great tour from art history student, Claude, who shared her enthusiasm for Chicago's works in her latest medium of choice - glass - and also taught us a lot about the church in which the museum is housed. The exhibition is small and the pieces are thought-provoking. As usual, Chicago's work has a strong conceptual element to it - always motivated by inequities in the world, be it women's lack of visibility in art and other public spheres, or be it the lack of tolerance of diversity and acceptance of 'otherness' in our world. Some of us weren't sure that they liked the work itself...But you have to admire Judy Chicago's ability to pour her heart and convictions into a wide range of artistic forms and to constantly expand the parameters of feminist art.
Thanks to Wendy and Heather for getting us organized to see the show. Great photos, Wendy!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The theme of the night is 'participation'. We open with a small concert from the wwp choir and wwp band, both of which emerged out of weekends at the Nurtury. In the sun room we will be showing some of the paintings from our recent wwp painting autumn colours weekend. Pictured far left is the collective painting from that weekend. Next to that is a beautiful painting of our lake in Autumn by Peter Brodie sent all the way from Edinburgh! In keeping with the theme of participation we will sing some carols together. We also want everyone to bring a 8 inch x 8 inch square of fabric that means something to you that we can incorporate into a wwp table runner that we are making for the Nurtury. At the end of the evening we will keep up our holiday tradition of visiting Ms Claus's seasonal grotto...ho! ho! ho! Please confirm whether you can come. If you can't make it but would like your piece of fabric to be represented in the wwp membership runner, make sure to tell us so we can arrange for you to drop it off.
The 1st Member's Salon Evening of 2011 is scheduled for Thursday January 20th, 7.30-9.30pm
Guest speaker Patsy Walker presents 'Voices from the Inner Spa'. Patsy will introduce us to her unique approach of understanding meditative practice and organize us into workshop groups to put some of her ideas into action. If you have friends who might be interested in wine women and philosophy's salon evenings please feel free to bring them along.
Looking forward to seeing you all on the 16th.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Try a new form of dancing with Sharon Levinger (pictured) that brings Belly Dancing together with Bollywood-Indian pop dancing to produce...Bellywood! This fusion of Middle Eastern and South Asian Dancing makes for a fun-filled away day - especially as those cold winter days set in. Be prepared to experiment with technique and rhythm from 10am to 4pm and come away from the experience with a whole new appreciation of what your body can do. Did we mention a Moroccan-themed lunch? That's included too!
Sharon Levinger has been a professional belly dancer for 10 years. She has already taught Belly Dancing at the Nurtury and is eager to share this popular new technique with you.
If you like this idea or have your own idea for a day away with friends or colleagues, we'd like to hear from you.
Monday, November 22, 2010
At our book and film club weekends, participants read 3 assigned books before coming. Over the course of our three days together, we watch the films that have been made from these books. We choose female authors from a cross-section of eras and we try to experiment with a range of genres...For example, on this weekend we had a novel, an autobiography and a collective diary on the menu. Books are chosen on the basis that they all speak to a common theme - in this case, we were looking at generosity in pedagogical contexts.
In keeping with the theme, the weekend kicked off with a typical school dinner. As participants tucked into shepherd's pie, stories were exchanged about our individual acts of generosity. Leading on from these, the notion of generosity as a 'female virtue' was discussed. From there we proceeded to the salon to watch our first film: Music of the Heart. Based on the true story of Roberta Guaspari's creation of the East Harlem Violin Program, this inspiring story of a woman bringing music to inner city children set the scene for a weekend full of rigorous insight and lively exchange on everything from balancing generosity in one's vocation with the obligations of one's personal life, to the subtle nuances that underlie our daily acts of giving and taking.
Saturday morning found us looking at some classical and post-structuralist approaches to the 'virtue' of generosity. It also found the cynics amongst us probing those so-called acts of generosity that may produce good results, but are, at their source, of questionable virtue. Armed with ideas on generosity springing from theorists as far ranging as Rene Descartes and Paulo Freire, Frederich Nietszche and Emmanuel Levinas, David Hume and Benedict Spinoza, Aristotle and bell hooks, we struggled to find our own take on generosity and discovered in the process that each of us had a very different sense of what it means to be generous both in a teaching and learning context and in life in general.
This was, as it turned out, the perfect state of mind with which to embark on our second film experience: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with the indomitable Maggie Smith in the title role. Miss Jean Brodie's unorthodox teaching methods only served to further complicate the whole idea of what it is to be a generous teacher - infuriating some of us while at the same time, exciting others. Saturday lunch found us enjoying a break from the traditional school dinner - Thai carrot and ginger soup followed by spinach and feta tart - whilst debating the question of whether generosity can be taught or whether it is implanted in our nature.
Under a brilliant November sun (!) a brisk constitutional was taken. Returning to our Nurtury school room, we entered a completely different world to that of 1930s Edinburgh and Marcia Blaine School for Girls. Suddenly we were in Long Beach, California in the wake of the 1994 Rodney King riots, where a young teacher called Erin Gruwell was evolving an innovative way of reaching out to a group of disenchanted youths living in what equated to a war zone. As we watched The Freedom Writers Diary unfold, we viscerally recoiled each time an act of institutional meanness and pettiness was directed towards this enthusiastic young teacher starting out in her career. Those 'old guards' can hang fiercely on to the done way of doing things, and we were starting to get a very good idea of what generosity is in relation to what it was most definitely is not. Equally, as the success of Erin's tolerance-based curriculum began to break through this negativity, our collective tension lessened and a tangible sense of relief could be felt throughout the salon. This actual bodily experiencing of generosity's presence and absence helped us when it came to working through the difference between 'justice' and 'generosity' the next morning - the former tending to demand an intellectual and considered measuring up of a given situation, whereas the latter often grows out of a more affective and spontaneous response.
On Saturday evening we relaxed, enjoyed a Moroccan-themed dinner, and were entertained by wwp band members (a number of whom happened to be attending this weekend).
After breakfast on Sunday morning we pulled forth a couple of exercises from the P4C movement - a philosophy for children initiative that we had looked at one of our salon evenings.
These games, designed to foster a more open and creative community of inquiry, helped us to question the kinds of connections we make between objects, words and ideas, as well as make interesting and productive connections related to the theme of generosity. Working from personal stories of our own ungenerous acts, we grappled with ways that we might change our responses to those situations that tend to trigger our 'ungenerosity'. We also considered the possibility that certain ungenerous acts might in fact have hidden generous results.
Summing up the books we had read and the films we had viewed, we each picked a scene from the whole corpus that stood out for us as an example of ungenerous conduct. From this we drew up a tentative list of what 'ungenerosity' looks like:
meanness; betrayal; disrespect; a rendering invisible of the other; a shutting down of the other; a manipulation of the truth; an abuse or misuse of power; an abuse of love; indifference.
Acknowledging that generosity is usually most conspicuous by its absence - and by extension, easier to discern than by its presence - this tentative list enabled us to shed new light on the meanings and felt sensations of generosity as we took a pre-lunch Socratic Walk - the purpose of which is to probe, through a progression of linked questions asked whilst walking, each other's understanding of a particular moral aspect of life.
These understandings were shared over a final lunch together. In bringing this weekend to a conclusion we also opened up a discussion on what our next book and film club theme should be. Contenders in the running are 'loyalty', 'passion' and 'pride'...Watch this space for more details!
Our heartfelt thanks go out to Wendy, Pat, Heather, Sue, Allannah and Bernice. Your incredible generosity over the course of this weekend embodied the wine women and philosophy spirit beautifully. If, as the ancient Greeks contend, generosity lies at the crossroads of magnanimity (the giving of one's self) and liberality (the ability to give freely) then you are all testament to what this human quality exemplifies. We can't wait to see you again next year!!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Time is but a stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born. The intellect is a cleaver; it discerns us and rifts its way into the secret of things. I do not wish to be any more busy with my hands than is necessary. My head is hands and feet. I feel all my best faculties concentrated in it. My instinct tells me that my head is an organ for burrowing, as some creatures use their snout and forepaws, and with it I would mine and burrow my way through these hills. I think that the richest vein is somewhere hereabouts; so the divining-rod and thin rising vapours I judge; and here I will begin to mine. (p.60)
Sunday, October 24, 2010
After a lunch of curried parsnip soup and goat's cheese souffles on Saturday, the group donned coats and walking shoes and headed out to try peripatetic walking. This consisted of pairing up and, whilst strolling down the late autumn lanes surrounding the Nurtury, questioning the nature of Socrates' Big 6 : moderation, virtue, piety, good, justice and courage. Paying heed to Eastern Philosophy's Classical Greek equivalent, Nishida Kitaro, we also included 'what is harmony?' in our line of questioning.
Around a roaring fire down by the lake we contemplated together what we had learned from this exercise, both in terms of the issues at hand and our 'walking the talk' experience. We then took a completely different track : trying out a post structuralist walk where we experimented with our haptic sense and got to know our surrounding environment by walking as sentient 'bodies without organs' that felt their way through the world as energy fields rather than flesh and bones. This proved somewhat of a challenge - one that we revisited later on that evening over Moroccan kemia and tagine.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch over tea and scones, Pat was organizing her posse into a book sharing extravaganza. This involved taking notes on people's favourite reads and plenty of appreciative oohs and aahs when they coincided.
Sunday morning found the group taking over the breakfast table and creating beautiful jewelry from Pat's prolific collection of beads. Forest walks followed...And finally, to top a great weekend off, a warming lunch of Thai-inspired carrot and pumpkin soup and spinach and feta flan.
Special thanks to Pat for creating a wonderfully stimulating weekend of 'words and walking'. What a great combination! And to Carolyn, Elizabeth, Judy, Louise, Ann and Wendy - it was so great to enjoy your company for these 2 days. For more information on organizing your own customized weekend, please visit our website or contact us directly.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
- Sue Meyer: 10 years on, what has happened to same-sex education at James Lyng High School?
- Bernice Lamb Senechal: The importance of girl's education in the developing world
- Linnet Fawcett: Theoretical struggles in shaping wwp's women-driven pedagogy
- Rona Brodie: What have we learned from women who have been part of the wwp experience?
- What does a same-sex curriculum look like within a co-educational school, and who does it benefit?
- Are the UN Millennium Development Goals that target girl's and women's education being met? And how are exciting initiatives like Women For Women International impacting both the lives of girls and women and the larger community?
- Do women, as Carol Gilligan has suggested, really speak in "a different voice"? And, as Gloria Steinem has asserted, does this voice grow more radical with age?
- What does a school for women look like that embodies an ethic of shared passions, generosity, and receptive inspiration?
The next salon evening is our Holiday Party on Thursday the 16th of December. The wwp choir and band will be performing and there will be a small vernissage of paintings from the painting autumn colours weekend (members and guests who attended this weekend please bring your paintings along with you!).
The theme of the evening is participation...to that end everyone is asked to bring along a 6 inch square of fabric. The square can be a piece of material with some significance to you or you can design your own square. The point of the exercise is to participate in making a table runner for the Nurtury. As at last year's holiday party there will be carol singing led by Kathy McKnight and, if you've been particularly radical this year, perhaps even a return visit to Ms Santa's Grotto!
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
After a brief philosophical exploration of the notion of the risk-taking, enjoyment-seeking 'amateur painter' - an idea that became a thread over the course of our 2 days together - we headed off to the Nurtury's brand new art studio. There, Janice introduced us to the techniques of gessoing our canvases and framing our chosen autumn landscape.
Kim quickly got the hang of framing, making us think that our next painting weekend should be devoted to portraiture! Before long we were putting those first tenuous charcoal lines on our gessoed boards...An experience that for Kathy, anyway, marked the beginning of a great new adventure.
Nature's astounding oranges, yellows and reds made our choice of colour palette easy. Having prepared our palettes and selected our brushes we were off!
It wasn't long before Bernice was delighting in the fine art of globbing, gooping and scraping.
For their part, sisters Pina and Maria chose crimsons to match their jackets (!) and proceeded to 'paint the Nurtury red'.
Over 'autumn inspired' meals enjoyed between painting sessions, we pursued the question of whether, when painting, it is the final oeuvre that counts or the process of getting there. Jacynthe, for example, set as her weekend goal the task of taking greater risks with her painting and going outside her comfort zone. By adopting a 'critics be damned' approach, she was able to break free and produce, by the end of her stay at the Nurtury, a joyfully flamboyant medley of blue, yellow and orange. We decided that focusing on the bodily pleasures and sensitivities that accompany the application of paint to canvas helped us to care less about the judgment of others and to get the most out of our painting experience.
One of the great things about a painting experience like this is that you get the chance to escape off on your own to commune with nature and to explore your inner creativity. But equally, when the day is over and you feel like sharing your new insights with others, there is a ready-made artist colony waiting fireside so that you can draw up a chair and swap stories and experiences. Rita, qui a fait le trajet de Maniwaki à Lakefield pour trouver le temps et la tranquilité pour se perdre dans son art, etait également content de parler d'art entre sessions - en partageant avec nous ses réflections sur la différence entre la peinture en studio avec un photographe comme référence (qui est son habitude) et la peinture en plein air. This special combination of solitude and sociality was brought home to us in the evening after dinner when we watched an NFB film about a group of Montreal-based female painters in the 1920s and 30s who were devoted primarily to their art, but who needed the support and inspiration of each other to make their way in a predominantly male art world. This group included Prudence Heward, Ann Savage and Sarah Robertson...Each one an accomplished and innovative artist in her time and yet, like so many women in art, barely recognized today. Maybe our inimitable Rose is ahead of her time in her transformation of a lower Laurentian landscape into a great big casserole of peas!
By Sunday afternoon we all had something to show for our weekend. There was even a communal painting that each of us spent 10 minutes working on - yet another attempt to challenge the conventions surrounding the individual 'authored' oeuvre and the often paralyzing kinds of judgment that go with it. So, we held an impromptu vernissage in the studio where, celebratory kir royale in hand, we each presented our works - some still in progress, some completed - and spoke about what we had learned about ourselves as painters.
We are thankful to Carole who graciously donated her vibrant painting of the beautiful autumn colours reflected in our lake to wine women and philosophy. It will have a special place on the walls of the Nurtury.
For those of you who took your paintings with you, we hope that they will have a special place in your home and heart. On that note, please please please send us your photos of your finished works and of the weekend more generally...For example, we spent a lot of quality time at the dinner table and it would be nice to add these moments to our blog.
Our heartfelt thanks go out to Janice for nudging us along as artists. You not only have the artist's eye. You also have the teacherly touch. You gave each of us a new-found confidence in our abilities, and you taught us so much about painting. We can't wait to do it all again. For those of you whose interest has been piqued, make sure to look out for Janice's annual summer artist's retreat at the Nurtury.
And to Rita, Jacynthe, Carole, Bernice, Kathy, Kim, Rose, Pina and Maria - what a wonderful experience this was for us and we thank you all for making it such a pleasure to host you at the Nurtury.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Also, look out for our fall newsletter and, as always, remember to spread the word about wine women and philosophy to your friends and colleagues.