Anne of Green Gables & family ties

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During our trip to PEI, we visited Green Gables, of course. Although L.M. Montgomery never lived there, her cousins’ house and farm was the inspiration for the setting of her famous book Anne of Green Gables. The property has been designated as a National Historic Site of Canada and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

Our friend and hostess Polly (yes, a real life person!), Rob and I were glad to be there on a less crowded week day and freely roamed around the lovingly restored house, inside and out. After perusing every possible Anne themed souvenir in the gift shop, Polly (doll above) sighed with relief when she came across a stack of books.

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Green Gables is set up as if the character Anne Shirley and her adoptive family of Matthew and Marilla lived there in the late 1800’s. The rooms are furnished with a wonderful collection of period pieces and Anne’s room includes important book related items, like her carpet bag and puffed sleeve dresses.

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This is where the family tie to Anne of Green Gables comes in. But, first a little family history. Growing up, I heard about our relatives in Toronto, the “Canadian Cousins”. We were the only branch of the family to move to America, where my grandfather followed his career in biology. My father’s grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins in Canada seemed so much more interesting than the few family members we knew at home. The stories of their lives emphasized an unconventional and creative spirit, full of drama and public service. I never met them in person and that may be why they still loom large in my mind as colorful characters who were celebrated for their leadership and vision (at least in Canada).

I heard about my totally eccentric great-grandfather, James Mavor, who through his connections with the Canadian government and Russian Tolstoyans, helped arrange the mass immigration of the Doukhobors from Russia to Saskatchewan in 1898. I’ve never met an American who knows about the Doukhobors, but I think most Canadians have at least heard of them or know their descendants. There were also stories about James Mavor’s daughter, my great-aunt Dora Mavor Moore who is considered the Grand Dame of Canadian Theater. My father talked about Dora and her son, his first cousin, Mavor Moore who was a multi-talented creative force in CBC radio and television and the arts. These relatives and my parents are gone, but the family remembrances live on through stories, creating narratives beyond mere names and dates on a genealogy chart.

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In Charlottetown, we saw the last performance of the season of “Anne of Green Gables – The Musical™”, which I really enjoyed.  I already knew that Mavor Moore had been involved from the show’s beginning in 1965 and was Co-writer of the lyrics.

What I didn’t know was that his daughter, Charlotte Moore was on stage, playing the leading role of Marilla. During intermission, I read the program and couldn’t believe it when her name and picture popped out. We had not met, but I was aware that she was a professional actress and singer, carrying on the family theater tradition.

 

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After the show, it seemed almost impossible to send a message back stage, but another actor told us that the cast sometimes gathers in the bar at Mavor’s Restaurant (named after Mavor Moore) in the same theater complex. We only waited a few minutes in the bar before I heard the name “Charlotte” being called out behind me. I turned around and there she was, my real life “Canadian Cousin”. After some quick introductions, we had a great chat about the family. I also got to meet Mavor Moore’s widow, opera singer, Alexandra Brown Moore, who was visiting PEI from Victoria, BC.

We were all so delighted to finally meet each other! I felt connected to the Canadian branch of my family in a way I hadn’t experienced before. Our interaction made me realize that sometimes just showing up, taking notice and making a little effort can make all the difference in how life unfolds. It’s daunting to think that I am the older generation now. How could that possibly be? After all, I still play with dolls, for goodness sake!

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Polly in PEI

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About a week before we drove up to Prince Edward Island, I remembered that Polly would need a new outfit for the trip. At first, I was blind to the obvious, but within a few minutes, her new persona became as clear as day.  With her red braids, there was only one choice — Anne of Green Gables! So, I quickly made her a pinafore and straw hat.

I must admit that I hadn’t read L.M. Montgomery‘s books until fairly recently. If I’d had daughters and/or a TV in our home, I probably would have read the stories to them and watched the PBS series. But, the wonderfully written books were enough to make my middle-aged self fall in love with the spunky character of Anne Shirley.

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Polly loved the PEI coast, with its red sand. She compared antique tractors, horse teams and geese at the Dundas Plowing Match, a local agricultural fair.

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She had dinner at Mavor’s in Charlottetown and learned about my cousin, the restaurant’s name sake, Mavor Moore, who was a well know Canadian writer, producer, actor, public servant, critic, and educator.

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It was harvest time on PEI.

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She stayed with friends on the coast of PEI’s King’s county.

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Of course, Polly felt right at home at Green Gables.

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Polly spent her last evening in Canada in the garden behind the Rossmount Inn in St. Andrews. It was a great trip to a beautiful part of the world!

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Exhibits and book signings this fall

The next few months are shaping up to be a busy, so I thought I’d give an update of events happening this fall. Coming right up, on Friday, Sept. 16th, is the opening for Intertwined: Needle Art of Salley Mavor at the Bristol Art Museum. Then, there will be a couple of book-signings in New England, one at the Osterville Village Library and the other at RISD in Providence (details listed below). And then, I ‘ll be on the west coast! Oct. 30th at 2:00 PM, in Portland, Oregon at A Children’s Place. I hope to meet many of you in person at these events!
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Bristol Art Museum Presents
Three SOLO Exhibits
September 16 – October 30  |  2016

The Catacombs | Thomas Lyons Mills
Mythical Beings Ellen Blomgren
Intertwined: Needle Art of Salley Mavor ~ The exhibit will show several new pieces, including Displaced.

Opening Reception: Friday September 16th  |  6:30-8:30pm
Bristol Art Museum – 10 Wardwell Street / Corner of Hope Street  |  Bristol  |  RI
Regular Museum Hours – Thursday – Sunday   |   1-4pm

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Detail from “Displaced” 2016

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Until Jan 8, 2017 ~ Salley Mavor’s artwork is in the Geometry Gallery display case at Providence Children’s Museum, Providence, RI. Selected wee folk dolls, houses and props from Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures, plus 2 original fabric relief illustrations from Pocketful of Posies are on display. Weefolk-1

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~BOOK SIGNINGS

Sat., Oct. 1, 2016 at 11:00 am ~ Salley Mavor will participate in the Author Panel and Book Signing, Children’s Fall Festival Osterville Village Library, Osterville, MA

Sat., Oct. 8, 2016 at 2:00 pm ~ RISD READS: Children’s Book Reading and Signing – Rhode Island School of Design, ISB Gallery, 1 Washington Place, Providence, RI. RISD alums Salley Mavor ’78, Stuart Murphy ’64 and Juana Medina ’10 will talk briefly and sign copies of their books.

Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016 at 2:00 pm ~ Salley Mavor will talk briefly about her artwork and sign books at A Children’s Place, Portland, Oregon.

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Open Studio-2Last Thursday, we returned from a wonderful trip to Prince Edward Island, which I’ll write about in future posts. The timing was tight, but I managed to get everything ready for an Open Studio this past weekend. Of course, I tidied up the studio earlier this summer and made cheese straws before the trip to PEI.  I tend to open my studio to the public maybe every 4 or 5 years, when there’s a new body of work to show.

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I really enjoyed meeting the people who came, many of whom were artists and craftspeople themselves. Several remarked at how affirming it was to connect with other people who like doing small scale needlework and creating things in miniature. They shared how they sometimes feel odd around people who don’t understand their interest in making and collecting small things. I told them that there are lot of us out there and not to be concerned with those who don’t “get it”. Having a desire to develop your own vision in a world that may see some creative pursuits as strange and weird is something to celebrate. If dreaming of, conjuring up and the act of doing creative work generates happiness and satisfaction, then it has great value and is worth pursuing.

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Needle felt artist, Lyn Slade shared her impressive piece, “Come to the Dance”.

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These girls and their family traveled all the way from Bangor, Maine! They look like they’re having a thoughtful discussion about the women pictured on the Covered Up poster.

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There was a constant flow of visitors both Saturday and Sunday, with a combination of locals and visitors from off Cape. I wish that I took more photos, but the quiet moments were few.  It was a pleasure to see familiar faces as well as meet new folks. Thank you to all who took the time to venture into my world! studio-2

Open Studio labor day weekend

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All are welcome to visit my private work space on Labor Day weekend, Saturday, Sept. 3rd and Sunday, Sept. 4th, from 10 AM to 4 PM, both days. The address is ahead, in the next paragraph. It’s been a few years since I last opened my studio to the public and I thought it would be nice to share some of my newer pieces (shown below) before they are delivered to the next show. My exhibit, Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor will be at the  Bristol Art Museum in Rhode Island, Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016. The opening reception at the museum is Friday, Sept 16th, 6:30 – 8:30 PM.

My studio is an oasis, where I spend most of my time working alone, surrounded by collections of treasures. I look forward to meeting many of you who live close enough to visit on Labor Day weekend.

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Azalea – Ltd. Edition fairy

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Please meet AZALEA, the newest Blossom Fairy! She is 3 3/4″ tall, with long crimped auburn hair, acorn cap hat, embroidered wool felt tunic and petal skirt. Even though I’ve said that I don’t sell them, every once in a while I offer a ltd. edition of dolls similar to the ones in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk. You see, I only work on them while traveling, so it’s an ongoing project that takes time. This year I made a set of 25 look-alike Azalea fairies while riding in cars and on vacation. I like to keep my hands busy, so this is a way of producing something, as well as keeping contented while sitting.

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Some of the finish work that’s not as portable, I did while on vacation. I have to limit the time I spend working on these because otherwise I would spend every minute in fairy land, constructing dolls, night and day. That isn’t such a bad thing, but then, I would be less inclined to make new, more involved pieces.

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In an effort to be fair to everyone, I am announcing on this blog, Facebook and Instgram that 25 “Azalea” fairies will be for sale in my Etsy Shop on Saturday, August 13th at 10 AM, eastern US time. That gives more of you a chance to read about it in advance, so you can plan on being ready to shop. I’m sorry if this hour isn’t convenient for other time zones around the globe, but I can’t figure out how to accommodate everyone. Last year’s dolls sold out very quickly, so if you really want one, act fast! Sorry, no reservations ahead of time. The dolls will be sold on a first come first served basis.

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Island vacation

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Is it still a vacation, if you spend a fair amount of time working? I admit to being a stitch-a-holic, because I can’t sit idle, when I could be MAKING something! It’s a compulsion that many of you can identify with, I’m sure. During this vacation, I made a set of Ltd. Edition Fairies that will be in my Etsy Shop in a few weeks. I didn’t spend all day stitching, though. We hiked around the island, swam in the creek and took photographs.

My husband Rob and I spent the past week on a private island that’s not far from our home, but it’s so peaceful and solitary that it feels like a world away. We traveled there on our boat and were the only ones on the island, except for some friends who came to visit on their boats.

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Many mornings, the light beckoned me out of bed, sometimes before sun rise, to walk around and try to capture the island’s unique beauty with my camera. This selection of photos were mostly taken at dawn or dusk — the magical hours. I hope that you enjoy this tour of a special place!

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