the graphic design
The graphic artists
Making a beautiful art book requires patience, know-how, and
dexterity. One must see the binder at work in his/her workshop
to understand how much time, energy, and creativity go into
just one work. Because of this, one cannot be surprised when
the binder is demanding when choosing the writings to be "enshrined",
for that is exactly what will happen. In today's world of
consumerism and obsolescence, high-level edition work is not
often seen. It is exactly for that reason; that the work in
question becomes valuable and deserves to be read, admired and
In order for the Livre des origines to be accepted by the
cultural journals, great care must go into all production
stages. The binders who make up the exhibition team performed
excellent work, but they still had to have a text meticulously
elaborated and printed on quality paper.
Maybe due to the fact that computer-aided publishing has
become quite common in the last few years, the work of the
graphic artist is not recognized as it should be. This is
somewhat like the binders who do not always take the time to
inset a colophon. Nevertheless, if the author of a book takes
care of the meaning and the binder takes charge of the
presentation, there is some sort of rapport between the two
when laying out the book.
We have entrusted this intermediate work to two very promising
artists. They studied the text and the theme to develop a
suitable style. The challenge was great as when they started
to work, they could not foresee what the binders would produce.
How then to present the Huron character and the tone of André
Ricard's narrative without limiting the possibilities of the
visual expression? Their solution is precise and shows great
Jean Michaud started
to work in printing and in research and creation during his
undergraduate and graduate university studies. To test his
practice, he went into teaching at Laval University. He
explains the fundamentals of graphics language, the
development of sign systems and the creation steps specific to
applied design. This occupation does not stop him from
carrying out creative projects, of which the base can be
corporate images or stamps. During this past year, his
personal research projects led him to integrate multimedia
formats into formal experimentation.
Stéphane Vallée first began to specialize in
fine arts. He taught this subject and photography in Windsor,
Ontario, for five years. He then came back to study printing
in order to develop and broaden his means of expressing
himself. During his graduate studies at Laval University, he
examined the duality between readable and visual topography.
He presented a solo exhibition of his work "Duel" at
University Laval's Visual Arts Gallery, and was awarded a
nomination for the Prix Grafika 2001. He now teaches notions
of graphics language, composition, typography and creative
processes. He also accepts commissions from designers to keep
himself up to date. In 2004, he was invited to direct a
workshop at the École de création "Intuit/lab" for image
crafts in Paris.
The exhibition locations
The Gabrielle-Roy Library
The "Grande Bibliothèque"
The Gabrielle-Roy Library
In the Amerindian language, the word Quebec means "where the
river narrows". It would be difficult to find a better
description of the Old Capital's location, at least for those
who took the then natural ways of communication to develop New
France. Life has greatly changed since the seventeenth century,
the golden age for French, English, and Spanish imperialism.
This can also be seen by the fact that Native People have
become a "visible minority" and that Canada's geographical
names now attest to imported religious and lay images.
From the Quebec promontories, the "Indians" have been pushed
back to the Lower Town, and then they had to migrate to the
north to "reserves". Between the near suburbs and the centre
of town, there are hardly any more Native People. They were
evicted by profitable businesses that sadly did not benefit
everyone equally. Full of industries and plants, separated by
a large river, this part of the city followed a commercial
logic; it is criss-crossed by suspended highways, its temple
has been replaced by a shopping centre and it has caused a
radical elimination of nature, with which the city dwellers
are just coming to terms.
This is where one can find the Gabrielle Roy Library, host of
the exhibit Le livre des origines, in a district full of life,
confrontations, and contradictions. The building itself was an
audacious urban challenge: build a shrine of knowledge where
the population is, by the force of things, breaking away from
culture. In spite of major concerns the library was well
received. The well off and the less well off began visiting it
from time to time; this triggered an ongoing process that
quite changed the physical and cultural landscape of the city.
Little by little, signs of decline disappeared giving the area
a more polished look.
In twenty-two years, the Gabrielle Roy Library has become a
genuine institution and an emblem of disruption and continuity.
Many persuasive efforts were necessary for it to become
reality and a great deal of observation of habits and customs
for it to become a success. For a while, the Livres des
origines will be the neuralgic centre of this great memory;
this is wise as it questions the sensitivity and the
intelligence of a people greatly marked by history, in a
setting of extraordinary pageantry. As has been rarely seen to
date, the writing, binding, exhibition hall, and library
building all blend together in the present time around a Huron
legend. It remains to be seen if it will be possible to
interpret all this quietly in a setting that underscores the
great distance separating us from the origins.
The "Grande Bibliothèque"
The new Bibliothèque nationale du Québec
(BNQ) is the result of the novel amalgamation of the Grande
Bibliothèque du Québec and the Bibliothèque nationale du
Québec. The new library has breadth and depth in all fields of
knowledge, and combines the preservation of the national
documentary heritage with the large-scale dissemination of
extensive Québec and universal collections.
Since its creation, the BNQ has acquired, by legal deposit,
all new documents published in Québec: books, journals,
magazines, newspapers, cartographic documents, artists' books,
music scores, prints, posters, art reproductions, postcards,
sound recordings, software and microforms (microfiches and
microfilms). It also purchases publications retrospectively,
which has enabled it to develop a nearly exhaustive collection
of Québec's documentary heritage as well as large holdings of
foreign publications about Québec. From the first book printed
in Québec to this year's latest CD-ROM, the BNQ's collections
include more than four million documents.
With the construction of a vast, user-friendly public building
in downtown Montréal, and thanks to the addition of numerous
electronic services, the BNQ, starting in spring 2005, will
offer all Quebecers unprecedented access to their heritage and
to contemporary culture from here and elsewhere. At the new
location, the BNQ's collections - including 340,000 books -
will be considerably enriched by the approximately 450,000
books, and the journal and magazine collection, of the
Bibliotheque centrale de Montréal and by 475,000 new
acquisitions, all of which will form the base of the universal
lending and reference collection. The multipurpose Grande
Bibliotheque will also be an active place, with an auditorium,
an exhibition hall, a café/restaurant, spaces for booksellers
and outdoor facilities. In addition, the library will provide
specialized services to several clienteles, notably children
aged 13 and under, business people, newcomers to Québec,
members of cultural communities, and persons with visual or
By using, in particular, the new technologies, the BNQ seeks
to provide all Quebecers with easy, practical access to
numerous bibliographic and documentary resources. The complete
catalogue will be accessible on the Internet, as will tens of
thousands of digitized documents: to date, 30,000 books, sound
recordings, postcards and posters are already available in
digital format. By setting up advanced technological systems,
the BNQ aims, among other things, to combine the electronic
catalogues of Québec's public libraries in order to provide
users with simplified access to all of the documentary
resources available in Québec. This electronic architecture
will further boost the BNQ's remote-access services and, at
the same time, provide digital solutions for interlibrary loan.
It will also make it possible to better evaluate and track the
demand for, and development of, services. Finally, links with
the electronic resources of other international institutions
will multiply points of access to the great web of knowledge.