Original black-and-white illustrations for The Midnight-Blue Marble animate the maroon walls of Baked Café for the month of December.
A grid of 15 pieces of illustration board, each about 12 by 16 inches, fills the larger wall between the street door, the one that is currently closed during construction and cold weather, and the gelato cooler, which is currently stocked with sandwiches. Bulldog clips hold the cards and hang from nails.
These illustrations, of materials that appear to include both ink and charcoal, feature a couple of strong shapes in the expanse of white card. A seething mass of charcoal sprouts menacing hands, a face with pinpoint pupils and funny little legs. A figure holds up a hand and lets Scrabble tiles fall.
A wasp-waisted lady sports a birdcage above her ringlets, with two birds in silhouette inside. A pocket-watch pendulum menaces the head of a gentleman in bloomers who sits handling a clock beside a duck. Taken out of the book they were designed for, they make less sense and create a surreal set of impressions reminiscent of Dali or Marcel Dzama.
A poster-sized black banner gives us the back-of-book synopsis of the book these images illustrate. This allows us to pick out the freckled 14-year-old Ailie Mooney from the illustrations and to follow some suggestions of Marie Antoinette. But there are no spoilers here.
Eleanor Rosenberg’s work is “primarily driven by storytelling”. She aspired to “honour the original intention” of the book as well as adding her own interpretation, layering levels of information into each image.
“The longer you look, the more rewarding the story becomes.”
The Midnight-Blue Marble is written by Melanie Jackson and printed by Gumboot Books. This is the third book Rosenberg has illustrated for the Vancouver-based publisher.
Rosenberg moved to the territory about a year ago. She finds that the move away from the big city has helped her to focus on her creative projects.
She also undertakes art-design projects, for theatre, and works as a graphic designer for Aasman Design, a Whitehorse-based design company.
You can find out more about Rosenberg at her website: www.eleanor-rosenberg.com. Also, Aasman did an in-house interview of the artist for its website: www.aasman.ca/blog/interview_with_an_illustrator.
Back at the coffee shop, two more bulldog-clipped images accompany another poster for the book above the wide door to the Horwoods Mall hallway. These use a different strategy. A wide margin of white surrounds images that are predominantly dark enough to occupy the paper’s central rectangle, with shading.
Back to the shape in the middle of the white card: a framed illustration of a young man, in skinny jeans wielding an acoustic guitar, with an anguished expression, hangs over the couch. He’s set against what seems to be a set of boxes, reminiscent of a phone number pad, but with zeroes on all of them.
If these pictures intrigue you, you can buy the book, with your coffee, at the till.
The Midnight-Blue Marble continues at Baked Café through December. The coffee shop is closed Dec. 25 through 27.