In January 1983, I sat on a backless bench at the Art Gallery of Ontario watching the film, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Lady. The feisty old woman in the documentary fascinated me. I jotted down some notes and stuck them into my files. Paraskeva Clark (1898-1986) now had her own folder in the top drawer of my filing cabinet.
Fast-forward to the year 1999. About six months before completing a major project of researching and writing the biography of Joyce Wieland (Joyce Wieland: Artist on Fire, 2001) Paraskeva began sitting on my shoulder and wouldn’t leave. I could not stop thinking about her. I discovered that her papers were housed in Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, and I also learned that there were many people who knew her who were available for interviews.
This is how I began my years of exploring the life of Paraskeva Clark, a scrappy, gutsy artist full of contradictions. My book on Clark, Perfect Red: The Life of Paraskeva Clark will be published in November by Cormorant Books (www.cormorantbooks.com).
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