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Creating Awareness – Herbert Pryke

I have shared my belief in the power of art to restore many times. It can do so much more than that.Art sparks conversation, debate and opinion. It brings people and communities together.It makes us think and hopefully respond. It creates an awareness about ourselves and our surroundings.

It can also be used to help other people; an act we could all practice a little bit more in the new year.

In October, a special art exhibit was launched in York Region. It showcased a partnership of artists; one mentor and one student. The mentor shared their expertise to help the student express their ideas with paint. The speed at which this concept was received by the artistic community was overwhelming. The exhibit of six paintings has already been on display at the Varley’s McKay Art Centre in Unionville, Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

The exhibit will be at Southlake Hospital, January 6th-February 10th.

This concept is now being duplicated by the McMichael to build a new project for 2013 to help more young artists.
The exhibit, ‘Mentorship in Motion’ has created more than just awareness.

Limited edition, signed and numbered prints were made of each artwork and are sold on the tour and online at The proceeds from the sale of the prints will be donated to six charities. Geneva Centre for Autism, Dramaway, KC’s Cancer Cushion Fund, SickKids Foundation, Bereaved Families of York Region and the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness. In two months over $5,000 has been raised.

The exhibit tour wraps up here in Aurora on April 20th, 2pm. at the Aurora Cultural Centre. There will be refreshments and music along with a cheque presentation.

All are welcome; meet the artists and maybe even purchase a print (depending


The exhibit will be on display at the Aurora Cultural Centre from April 9-27. The Aurora Cultural Centre is located at 22 Church Street, Aurora.





The Hippocampus, the small area in the brain shaped like a seahorse, originates from the Greek word ‘hippokampos’; hippos meaning horse and kampos meaning sea monster. This little sea horse with the tail of a fish and the forelegs of a horse houses a complex filing system where we store and retrieve memories.  

The subject of memory is a mystery. Why do some people remember things before the age of two? I do. Others remember things only before the age of five, others only before seven.

The memories I speak of are not necessary recalled because they are traumatic; they could be trivial recollections like bouncing along in a metal stroller, perching on a grandfather’s generous lap, or crawling through the long whispering grass.

When we are writing about our childhood tapping into our memory can often be a challenge. My message to you is:

Don’t wage war against your memory; welcome it.

 One way to evoke a specific childhood memory is to ‘show up at a scene’. This visual exercise will help you to visit a scene as a child, with a child’s reality and naivety, which you can then describe from deep within a reminiscent child’s point of view. Please note that this exercise should only be used to evoke pleasant memories.

Have a keyboard or pencil/paper handy to write down anything you experienced on completion of the exercise – random words, a sentence, a paragraph, an entire chronicle.

Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to center yourself.

Think of a place, a setting, a scene, from your childhood.

Observe from a short distance the young child (YOU) there at the place, in the scene.  

Now slowly start moving towards the child.

Stop. Breathe. Look at the child.

Step forward into child’s space … become the child.

Now look down at your body (eyes still closed). Look at your arms, are there scrapes? Bruises? Gentle rounded joints?  Can u see fine delicate finger bones? Dirty or chewed fingernails?

Look at legs and feet. Are you wearing shoes? Is there sand between your toes?

Now listen (eyes still closed) to the sounds. Can you hear children? Water? Insects? Wind rustling through the leaves? Listen to your heart beat.

Now smell. Is there a scent of flowers? Grass? A dog’s fur? Cooking?

Now taste. Lick your lips. Are they salty? Sweet?

How do you feel? Anxious? Content? Nervous?

Take a deep breath. You are the child.

Now let the child write!

Explore your memory with openness and wonder, not by trying to force memory, but  by releasing and allowing – allowing yourself to be lost and found, to be led and to follow, to float in a timeless sea of awareness and vision.

There’s something symbolic about the shape of our hippocampus, something primordial that mimics man’s beginnings in the sea world (tail of a fish) followed by his progression to land (forelegs of a horse). Become that child again as you flip through your past recollections, forever mesmerized by the mystery of memory.

Mariposa Folk Festival

This past weekend I performed at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia. And I had a great time. I heard everything from the Idlers, a Newfoundland band playing ska and reggae, to Adonis Puentes, a fabulous Cuban singer, to Elisapie Isaac, an Inuit from Northern Quebec who sings in French, English, and Inuktitut, to Yeshe, a world traveller who plays instruments from all over the globe.

 Now if you don’t know about folk festivals, or if you think you’re not a folk fan and are therefore put off by the idea, there’s something you need to know. Over the past 20 years or so, these festivals have changed. They’re no longer a series of WASPy folks earnestly strumming acoustic guitars and singing mournful, lengthy ballads about Scottish maidens dying on the moors.

 Now it’s true that Mariposa did feature a fair number of white, North American singer-songwriter types (me included) – though given that this is Canada, at least 4 of the Canadian acts played in French, or in French and English (me included). But there were even more acts that represented or melded all sorts of genres and influences, such as rock, blues, bluegrass, classical, jazz, country, world music, spoken word, and more.

 That’s because the definition of folk music, and folk music itself,  has become pretty elastic. As Louis Armstrong once observed, “All music is folk music; I ain’t never heard no horse sing a song.” Sure, there are still some traditionalists out there who won’t listen to anything that involves a drum kit or an amp or that wasn’t written by Anonymous, but for the rest of us, there’s plenty of variety at these festivals, which is what makes them a delight.

 So next time you hear about a folk festival happening not far from you – and there are lots in Ontario in the summer: see for a list – even if you don’t think of yourself as a folkie, take a chance and check one out!


 Marie-Lynn Hammond is a co-founder of Stringband, a seminal Canadian folk group, and a critically acclaimed songwriter living in York Region. In past lives she’s written plays and magazine articles and hosted national CBC radio shows. In between working on two new CDs, she freelances as an editor of both fiction and nonfiction.

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