Lady Masereel: Marta Chudolinska’s Wordless Novel ‘Back + Forth’ May 26, 2010 – Tags: , ,

Noted illustrator, wood engraver, printer and book designer George A.Walker encourages his students at the Ontario College of Art & Design to “embrace 19th century linocut printmaking techniques to create extended visual narratives.”

One of the fruits of his labor is this stunning book by Marta Chudolinska. Chudolinska, who immigrated to Canada from Poland in 1991, cites Frans Masereel, one of the titans of the wordless novel, as her inspiration for the book.

“Masereel’s style is vivacious, focused more on expression and energy than on completely accurate representation” says Chudolinska. His “characters are still alive on the page a hundred years later; their sorrow, anger and joy jumps vividly off the page just as strongly as when the blocks were first engraved.” Marta also credits Roland Barthes’ essay ‘The Death of the Author‘ as a significant influence.

Back + Forth is a coming-of-age tale of a young woman set in the urban environments of Toronto and Vancouver.

The specific landscape, structure, weather and people of a cityscape combine to create a unique culture of place; a `place’ that can define us as succinctly as we might like to think we control our own definitions of self. Aviation allows many of us to live, almost simultaneously, in distant places and to indulge in the complexities of multiple lives. Back + Forth examines the attendant possibility of entrapment, between two such distant places and two, very different, times.
Back + Forth examines what it means to belong, to assimilate, to be distant, and to challenge the constraints of time and space in the juggling act that we all call life.

 Back + Forth is both a homage to place and a powerful depiction of a young woman’s search for love and belonging in the modern landscape. The character cycles through a series of relationships, a couple with not so happy endings, that in the end seemingly free her of the pursuit and leave her alone and content as the road unfolds before her.

Published by The Porcupine’s Quill. Typeset in Gill Sans. Printed on acid-free Zephyr Antique laid. Smyth sewn into sixteen page signatures with hand-tipped endleaves, front and back. $20. Available here

The project was funded by the Ontario Arts Council.

Finalist for the 2010—Doug Wright Award  and the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year.

Display of the entire 90 linocut sequence 
Interview with Marta Chudolinski at Books on the Radio 
Profile of Marta at The Fabler
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