At PQL, we’re always trying to find new and innovative ways to tell a story. In recent years, one of the more unique modes of storytelling in our publishing arsenal has been the wordless novel—narratives told entirely in pictures, specifically wood engravings or linocuts. The artistic process is, needless to say, arduous, requiring patience and a strict attention to detail. But what few people realize is the amount of planning required to ensure that these images tell a coherent story.
Steven McCabe’s Never More Together is a sterling example of what happens when two artistic forms—visual art and storytelling—converge. Prints from the book and pieces of his other artwork are now on display as part of The Narrative Storyboard Show at GAS (Gerrard Art Space) in Toronto. Steven kindly allowed us to pick his brains about the show, and about the role of narrative and storytelling in visual art.
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The Porcupine’s Quill: Tell us about ‘The Narrative Storyboard Show.’ What was the organizing principle behind the show, and what are you hoping that audiences will get out of it?
Steven McCabe: Joanne Filletti, Director of GAS (Gerrard Art Space), organizes thematic exhibitions throughout the year spaced between solo artist shows. This exhibition displays contemporary narrative possibilities in both form and subject matter. My wish for this exhibition would be for viewers to reflect upon the literary quality of narrative inherent in visual art.
PQL: The show features your work as well as that of Jyne Greeley. Do you feel that your works complement each other, or demonstrate contrast? How do your individual perspectives contribute to the experience of the show?
SM: Jyne Greenley’s work has a lyrical quality enveloping repetition and rhythm in constructing narrative image. My linocut prints from Never More Together as well as my ‘stream of consciousness’ accordion sketchbook drawings also use repetition of symbol and subject. We both carry forth the idea of viewing ‘story’ from various non-linear angles. I would guess the viewer senses ‘intent of meaning’ in both our works. Her colourful paintings stand in contrast to the black and white images I’m showing and this makes for a lively interchange.
PQL: We are obviously big fans of your work in Never More Together. How did the pieces from the book fit into the theme of the show?
SM: Thank you. I chose prints reflecting the mysterious nature of the wordless book. I selected the first image from Never More Together, without qualifying or numbering, to emphasize the circular quality of the narrative. Also I wanted to contrast the architecture of page following flipped page to the sculptural quality of the accordion book. As well, the boldness of intensely black linocut prints intersects intriguingly with the intricately scratched density of the ‘folded scroll’ drawings.
PQL: What else would you like to share about your work and about The Narrative Storyboard Show?
SM: It seems when one puts their work ‘out there’ and has a conversation with the world the energy of the experience leaves you with more ideas than you had before.
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Many thanks to Steven for taking the time to answer our questions! Check out The Narrative Storyboard Show from now until January 25 at GAS (1475 Gerrard St. E., Toronto, one block west of Coxwell). Hours of operation are Wednesday to Sunday, 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Visit the GAS website for more information.