There were approximately 19,900 new books published in Canada in 1996, the latest year for which statistics are available. Even if I were to read two a week, it would take me 200 years to read ’em all! So, I must choose carefully which books I read.
As a history aficionado, I recently read Art Love Forgery, Carolyn Morgan’s foray into published fiction based on fact.
In 1880, Alexander Pindikowsky, a Polish artist working in Heart’s Content, is arrested for the crime of forgery.
Morgan has been fascinated by this story since she first heard about the Pole.
“Since I am a visual artist,” she says, “his story was all the more compelling to me.” She wanted his “quite unusual” tale to “come alive.”
As a university student writing history papers, she “always read historical fiction first to get a sense of the time period and the historical figures. Reading a novel was far less tedious for me than reading dry historical documents.”
By crafting Pindikowsky’s story as a novel, Morgan was able to entertain her readers and educate people “about a slice of Newfoundland history in the process.”
Art Love Forgery is informed by an amalgam of “stories and characters from my own family history” and an awareness of “the cultural mind-set of the time.”
Pindikowsky was sentenced to prison; part of his sentence included designing and painting ceiling frescoes that can still be seen at Government House in St. John’s.
“Very progressive was the idea of using a prisoner’s talents during his incarceration instead of having him languish in a jail cell.”
Visual artistry has been part of Morgan’s life, she explains, “starting as a young girl designing and creating hats and clothing for my dolls.”
Studying art locally and spending two art holidays in France and one in Italy, studying painting en plein air, she now sells her paintings, textile work and metal art work.
She says that her visual work is based on inspiration.
“My artistic expression is all about communicating ideas and stories. My work often reflects the struggle between the industrialized/technological world and the natural world. When I am inspired, my imagination processes images in the form of a visual story. A person, place, leaf or seedpod, a phrase in a book or a fragment of conversation, can trigger a torrent of visual images that will condense into an artwork.”
In Art Love Forgery, she writes “about an artist who is part of Newfoundland’s history – a happy combination for me.”
In case you are wondering, yes, the Love in the title indicates the story of a forbidden love in the capital city in the nineteenth century.
Art Love Forgery, which is published by Flanker Press, is a good read. Morgan draws the reader in through her artistic imagination. The overriding question is: How will the love affair between Alexander Pindikowsky and Ellen Dormody evolve?
The book will also “foster a curiosity about other characters and events from our rich history,” which is one of the things Morgan wants people to take from her novel.