In Black and White

14 May 2014

In Black and White: A Stroll Through Canadian Landscapes
by Waltraude Stehwien
Published by Landscape Art Publishing
Review by Jessica Bickford
$19.95 978-0-9919649-0-1

In Black and White: A Stroll Through Canadian Landscapes is a book unlike any other I’ve encountered. It is a collection of scissorcuttings, also known as papercuttings, which are an art form with a history that traces all the way back to sixth century China. Using only black paper and negative space Waltraude Stehwien creates evocative landscapes and cityscapes that are instantly recognizable to anyone who has travelled through Saskatchewan and Western Canada.

The only text in the book is the title of each piece, and the only colours are the simple black and white of Stehwien’s artwork, but as you flip through each page, you can’t help but feel there is a story here. There is also a depth and a kind of warmth that comes from Stehwien’s work, and almost a sense of nostalgic serenity from the prairie scenes that are often devoid of people and wildlife. You can tell you are looking at something that took a lot of time and skill to create, and you can almost feel the chill winter wind, or hear the lone blackbird trilling as you take in the detail of her work.

Part art book, part journey, and part exploration of a dying craft, In Black and White is as stark as a prairie winter, but feels much like a homecoming to anyone who has spent time in Saskatchewan or along Canada’s west coast. It is incredible to look at what Waltraude Stehwien can do with just black paper, a pair of scissors and a vision of Canadian landscapes.


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