“Useful and Beautiful” Conference at the University of Delaware Announced

The University of Delaware has announced a conference entitled “Useful and Beautiful: The Transatlantic Arts of William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites.” The conference will run between October 7-9 at the University of Delaware, the Delaware Art Museum, and the Winterthur Museum. This sounds like such an exciting conference. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend, but I hope that some readers will go and report back!

The conference, which has been organized together with the William Morris Society in the United States, will take feature rare books and manuscripts from the University’s holdings, as well as fine and decorative arts from the Delaware Art Museum. The keynote speaker for the conference will be Fred Kaplan, Professor Emeritus of English at Queens College and the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York. His address will be held Thursday, October 7, at 4:30 p.m. in the Reserve Room of the Morris Library. Dr. Kaplan has written a number of biographies,including The Singular Mark Twain; Gore Vidal; Henry James: The Imagination of Genius; Charles Dickens; Thomas Carlyle(finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize); and, most recently,Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer. His lecture, entitled “Useful and Beautiful: Henry James and Mark Twain,” is sponsored by the University of Delaware Library Associates and associated with the exhibition, London Bound: American Writers in Britain, 1870–1916, at the University of Delaware Library.

In addition to the keynote address, there will be numerous sessions by internationally recognized scholars and specialists in Pre-Raphaelite Art, and a special performance of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest by the University of Delaware’s critically acclaimed Resident Ensemble Players/Professional Theatre Training Program.

For more information, contact Mark Samuels Lasner, Senior Research Fellow, University of Delaware Library by email at: [email protected], (302) 831-3250; or visit them on the web www.udel.edu/conferences/uandb

The conference is priced at $150 per person, and $75 for students. There is no charge for University of Delaware faculty, students and staff.

Marine Building, Vancouver

Last month my husband and I went to Vancouver with our daughter. We were only there for a few short days, but we had a wonderful time taking in the sights. Fortunately, the weather was fabulous, and we enjoyed walking around Stanley Park and the downtown area. We even made it for the final weekend of the  Olympic Winter Games, as you can see in the photo above (we actually didn’t know that the Paralympic Games were still in progress when we arrived – it’s sad they get so little press).

Although I’d spent lots of time in Vancouver back in my undergraduate days, it was quite a change to visit as a ‘grown-up’! As a student, I spent most of my time in Vancouver shopping for bargains and eating crepes and pizza on the street (it felt sort of weird to go to sit-down restaurants). While we were planning our trip to the city, Javier asked me which places we should go to, and I couldn’t really tell him anything! That’s when I realized that even though I lived in Greater Vancouver for 5 years, I’d never really seen the city.

During a long walk through the downtown area, we passed by Vancouver’s historic Marine Building. My husband and I kept commenting on how much the Art Deco style of the building reminded us of The Daily Planet from CW’s Smallville. Of course, we later discovered that that’s because it is The Daily Planet (on the TV show they make the building look taller via CGI and superimpose the Planet globe on top).

The Marine Building was completed in 1930 and is a beautiful example of Art Deco architecture. The building was designed by the Vancouver-based architecture firm of McCarter Nairne. John Y. McCarter (an engineer) and George C. Nairne (an architect) built two Art Deco skyscrapers for the city of Vancouver: the first was the Medical Dental Building, which was demolished in 1988, and the second was the Marine Building.

Interestingly, when the building opened, the city was in the throes of the Great Depression. Although the structure had cost over $2.3 million to build, it was sold to the Guinness family (yes, that Guinness family), for a mere $900,000. Such a deal!

My favourite feature of the building is the elaborate entrance, with its fabulous Art Deco details.

Below you can see the rest of the entrance (unfortunately I couldn’t get the whole thing with my iPhone, so I had to take two separate shots!). Take a close look at those angelic winged creatures: they’re Canadian Geese! I don’t think I’ve ever seen Canadian Geese looking so regal.

 It is certainly one of the prettiest buildings in downtown Vancouver, and I’m amazed I’d never visited it before. Now I really want to take a peek inside. I guess I’ll have to wait till next time!