Welcome to friends of wine women and philosophy (wwp)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

On Walden Pond

Many thanks Carolyn for gifting us Henry Thoreau's Walden. It's a beautiful read - I feel its inspiration as I sit here, reading, and looking at Loch Robin...

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

'Words and Walking' Weekend (Oct 23-24)

This past weekend our good friend, Pat Machin, gathered 6 friends who all share a love of books. The customized experience that grew out of this love was called 'words and walking' and activities ranged from presenting a bag of your favourite books fireside to making beaded jewelry to exploring the ambulant realm of walking philosophy.

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

Members' Salon Evening Conference Style!

Last Thursday (21st October) was the first time we tried out 'the conference' format at a salon evening. After a brief consideration of the links between a pedagogy based on conversation ( which is what wwp is developing together) and the format of the conference through history, we got underway. The theme of the conference was girl's and women's education and our call for papers resulted in 4 presentations - each lasting 10 minutes and then followed by 10 minutes of questions. Our line-up was as follows....
  1. Sue Meyer: 10 years on, what has happened to same-sex education at James Lyng High School?
  2. Bernice Lamb Senechal: The importance of girl's education in the developing world
  3. Linnet Fawcett: Theoretical struggles in shaping wwp's women-driven pedagogy
  4. Rona Brodie: What have we learned from women who have been part of the wwp experience?
The papers were inspiring, informative and thought-provoking. Questions to emerge from the conference included:
  • 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 general opinion of those attending this evening was that the conference format was a great way to exchange ideas and learn something new. What is emerging from these salon evenings is a philosophy club where members are stepping forward to help the rest of us learn, and where we are building a shared vocabulary and experience to draw upon when 'talking philosophy'. Who knew that doing philosophy could be such fun! Exuberant thanks go out to Sue and Bernice for their highly educational and eloquent presentations and to everyone else, thank you for posing such great questions and giving your experiences so generously. It truly was an evening that exemplified koinonia - that is, a spirit of sharing that helps build strong and supportive communities.

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

Artists Colony Retreat Scheduled For August 2011

Following the success of our recent Painting Autumn Colours Weekend we are delighted to offer an Artists Colony Retreat next summer from the 1st to the 5th of August. Our resident artist Janice Poltrick Donato will be on hand during the week to help you with your art projects and inspirations. For more details on this retreat, and all our summer retreats, please visit our website.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Glimpse of wwp's 'Group of 12' on our Painting Autumn Colours Weekend (October 2-3)....

After a week of torrential rain, the sun shone blissfully for us on Saturday morning as 10 intrepid painters arrived at the Nurtury to capture the autumn leaves at their peak and to share with Janice Poltrick Donato - our resident artist - her passion for painting with oil. Some of us had dabbled in the world of art before. Some of us had never even held a paintbrush beyond elementary school. No matter...By the end of these 2 sumptuous away days (with sleepover option) Janice had helped us to link back into a love of painting or discover that love for the first time.

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.