Photographic Memory


One morning during the construction project that would ultimately yield Trinity’s new John W Graham Library I donned a hard hat to survey the site with one of the architects to see how things were progressing. At last view, the third-floor ceiling had been eliminated to give gracious height in contrast to the relatively low ceilings on other floors of the former student residence. A “cathedral” effect had been achieved. Steel I-beams supporting the roof were clad in wood, converging gracefully at the peaks, with metal tie-rods lending period authenticity to the renovation of this century-old building, first designed by Toronto’s foremost arts-andcrafts architect Eden Smith.

“Scientia” (Knowledge) by Susan Rankin

On this morning, however, the architect and I were both stunned to see that massive, coffin-sized rectangular wood boxes now spanned the point of convergence in a most awkward and unsightly way. The architect’s language, which is not printable, colourfully reflected my own response to the excrescence.

Douglas Chambers, Trinity English Professor and Chair of the Library Committee, hearing my cry, immediately came to view the damage. Rather than joining the lament however, he immediately declared this a perfect spot for the quilt art of Susan Rankin, who lived near Douglas’s farm, Stonyground, in Bruce County. Douglas immediately commissioned the hangings and consulted with Rankin to produce original designs featuring books and evoking the style of C. F. A. Voysey, British architect and textile designer in the Arts-andCrafts tradition. Entitled “Scientia” (knowledge) and “Potestas” (power), these two large hangings grace the “coffins” topping the main north and south reading rooms of the Graham Library.

Linda Corman, who recently retired, was Trinity’s Librarian from 1980 to 2015.


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