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 kept.

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 workmanship.

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 other impairments.

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.

Exhibition pictures