Tag Archives: Sid Dickens

Saw some Sid Dickens Memory Blocks yesterday

Leonardo da Vinci - Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani (Lady with an Ermine) - WGA12698

Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci. Facial detail shown on Sid Dickins Memory Block #T223

I was showing my in-laws around town Friday when we stopped in at Chartreuse Living, a home decor store here in Port Moody. I like going there because they carry Sid Dickens’ Memory Blocks. I especially wanted to show them to my mother-in-law. Their inventory was low, but they had enough to give her an idea about what they are all about. Such excellent craftmanship, as well as exquisitely beautiful artwork. If you’d like to read more about him and his line, click here. His motifs revolve around architectural detail, art masterpieces, seasonal themes. I have my favorites… If you would like to see the full range of Memory Blocks, click here. You won’t be disappointed. It’s a well-designed site and shows his artwork off with lush photography, emphasizing the Old World connection. I am hardly the only fan of his work, though. Below are some other sites that feature him, too. My company left today, I’m resting up and will be back with you tomorrow… In the meantime, check out these sources:





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Supporting the arts, one piece at a time

It must have been when I was 16 or 17 that I bought my first piece of art with an awareness that I was buying art. I’d known my mother’s friend, Nancy, much of my life, first in Europe, then in the U.S. Nancy’s husband was a photographer and she was a painter from upstate New York. I can still hear her strong dialect when I think of her. It makes me think of a photo the family has of Nancy: she’s in the foreground and the Mona Lisa is behind her. Disappointment was all written all over Nancy’s face! So funny… One summer, I bought one of her paintings. I still have it and, to this day, I love it every bit as much as I did when I bought it. Maybe more. No one else seems to like or appreciate it, but I do and that’s what counts. The canvas is  30″ x 24″ and the painting depicts a close-up of part of a conch shell, which takes up the entire canvas, save a part at the top. It’s not cutesy or a scientific study; it’s more impressionistic. White, blue, lavender, yellow, and midnight blue. Like peering deep down into the shell, with a dreamlike quality. Most of the art I own or purchased was created by artists I know whose work I like. I strongly believe it is important to support these friends/artists by purchasing their work. It is also important to support the arts by purchasing works of art by people who aren’t in my circle. Several weeks ago, we did just that when we took a short ferry ride to Bowen Island. While there, we each bought a piece of ceramic art from Jeanne Sarich at her studio/gallery, Cloudflower Clayworks. Then, today, in Port Moody, after Pauline and I had a cuppa, we took in a couple of shops. One, I’d been meaning to go to because it carries Sid Dickens’ Memory Blocks. I had researched and written about them and him but had never actually seen his work in person till today. When I walked into Chartreuse Living, I recognized a collection of them on the wall. Oh, my. Oh, my, oh my. They are gorgeous beyond words. (How to narrow down my choice(s)?)  I also saw beautiful renditions of a barn owl, one of which I’d like to get. The proprietress said the artist, Heather Johnston, prints photographs on canvas, then paints over them. In the end, the work resembles an old piece of film. It makes sense that we would bring the work these artisans make into our own homes and, all the more so, because we ourselves create. I’ll never forget going to Sean Thompson’s opening at Dr. Vigari’s one winter night in the city. I fell completely in love with a painting. At the time, Sean painted Canadian hockey players larger than life. (The painting he’s working on at this link is of Tim Horton, a Canadian icon.) The subject was strange to me, a new immigrant. I still didn’t really know how much hockey was an integral part of the Canadian psyche.  The paintings in the show were enormous. Canvases were about 8′ tall and 5′ wide and there were diptychs and triptychs. Yet, I was drawn to something much smaller. Rendered in the style of Russian iconography, the painting depicts a poignant historic incident that took place in 1933. In the painting, the fallen player is Toronto Maple Leafs’ Ace Bailey, a favorite throughout the country and leading scorer and goal scorer. Standing over him on the ice, stricken, is fellow Leaf Red Horner, who came to his aid but also feels guilty. Bailey had been brutally hit from behind by the Boston Bruins’ Eddie Shore. Bailey crashed to the ice, fracturing and concussing his skull. The painting shows an angel hovering over Ace and the Leafs. They are painted in the style of Russian iconography and the figures have that static feel.  Though star player Ace Bailey recovered, he never played hockey again; the incident ended his career. So, here on the wall between two rooms hangs Thompson’s visual retelling. I’m not a hockey fan, I just love the painting, that Sean recreated a historic incident in such an iconic way. What does it for me is the tenderness and love shown by all the players and the protection of the angel overhead. Do yourself a favor this week. Go out, fall in love with a piece of art and bring it home!

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Sid Dickens and his incredible Memory Blocks

I’m taking a road less travelled today to introduce you to a Vancouver artist whose work is informed by the classics, science, art history, research, curiosity, and poetic vision. Sid Dickens’ Memory Blocks are not made of clay, but of beautifully decorated plaster tiles. They are quite thick and I like that…they have substance. Exquisite designs, soulful execution. Highly unique. Dickens, 48, is originally from Prince Rupert, B.C., according to Beladagio. “Until the age of 28 he worked as a commercial fisherman,” according to what must be an earlier site. “Off-season, he served burgers on the ferries and dedicated his spare time to drawing and painting.” Dickens attended Vancouver’s Emily Carr College of Art and design, now a university, was inspired by works he saw in Europe and later learned bronze-casting in Mexico at the Instituo De Allende in San Miguel. He opened his first studio in 1984, then built a studio retreat on Haida Gwaii. In ’91 he opened a studio in Gastown, the oldest area in Vancouver, along the waterfront. The Beladagio site quotes Dickens, who said, “Originally, I created large panels with many elements.” His ideas evolved and he began to work on a smaller scale. His site says his tiles are “hand crafted plaster, 6″ x 8″ x 1 1/4″, finished to a porcelain-like quality, cracked to create an aged look and feel.” He has a studio in Vancouver, employees a team of about 30 emerging artists, according to the site, Sid Dickens Timeless Collectibles, which features some of the artisans involved. Click here to see some photos of the blocks being made and some information about them. Dickens’ current studio in Vancouver is not open to the public, but the memory blocks can be found in many locations or purchased online. I see that there is a retailer in my town that carries his work, so soon I hope to pop on over and see them in person. The tiles can be mixed and matched to suit your tastes and there is a wide variety of themes. The Memory Blocks have an aged, antique look, and I think they are exquisite. Photos are copyrighted, so I cannot show them to you here, but here is the link to his online catalog of works. I saw an earlier version of his website some time last year, the first time I learned of him. I felt a bit put off by the new site because not all of it is accessible unless you ‘join.’ I like free and easy access to information and while I understand that he and his work are enjoying increasing visibility and popularity, it smacks of exclusiveness. In the end this matters little because the work is what counts. I will leave it to you to explore his site and possibly find a retailer that carries Memory Blocks in your area. One of my new favorites is one from a line out this spring and it is called Winged Sage. It is quite lovely and retails for $92.00 CDN. So many forms of art emerge from Dickens’ work, all of which he designs himself. When you gaze upon one of his tiles it evokes many feelings, senses, and memories. One appreciates the beauty, the artistry, and the subjects portrayed. It is so nice to know such beautiful work is being made so close to home, in Vancouver.


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