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Awesome Archers

Who hasn’t seen The Hunger Games?

Katniss in The Hunger Games

Katniss in The Hunger Games

Katniss is strong and feminine, nurturing and heroic, sincere and spunky.  Little girls would do well emulate her rather than some vampire bride chick. And she strikes quite a figure with her bow and arrow — one of the sexiest weapons ever, if you ask me.

The bow and arrow is not blundering and clumsy like a club or a mace. Nor as loud and totally lacking in finesse as a grenade or an M16. This weapon, nay — instrument — is one of the most primitive, and yet one of the most sophisticated. In the right hands, it is graceful yet powerful. Flexibility is in its nature, and yet it can be unerringly precise.

So today I thought I’d feature other archers in filmdom who came before Katniss, who have drawn their bows and sent those arrows aflight.

Robin Hood

Robin Hood

Guinevere in King Arthur

Legolas in The Lord of the Rings

The Scorpion King

Neytiri in Avatar

Hawkeye in The Avengers

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TED Talk: Robert Lang Folds Way-New Origami

If you’ve followed us for any length here on the blog, you may know that we are enamoured by paper, by origami, by the seeming infinite potential a single piece of paper holds.  By way of evidence I present some of Robert J. Lang’s work:

Anna's Hummingbird by Robert LangAnna’s Hummingbird.  All images by Robert J. Lang, langorigami

Orchestra by Robert Lang


Robert J. Lang's Quezada PotQuezada Pot

Lang's allosaurus skeletonEven an Allosaurus skeleton, in a sheet of square paper.

I came across this TED Talk this weekend during an internet wander.  Have you seen this?  Robert J. Lang, an origami master and physicist, uses math and engineering principles to fold intricate origami designs.  The results are startling, magnificent. If you’ve got 15 minutes, you won’t regret watching this.  Bonus: it makes math fun, something years of Kumon couldn’t do…

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Fairy Tales Are For Grown-Ups

Disney's Snow White

Fairy tales aren’t for kids. If illustrators stayed faithful to the dark themes of their plots, we’d have been exposed to gruesome reading that is galaxies away from the cutesy storybooks we grew up with. Think about it. They are riddled with evil plots, murderous schemes, injustice, violence.

Remember the parents who left Hansel and Gretel in the woods to die, and the witch who wanted to bake them? How about the wolf who ate up Little Red Riding Hood’s granny? Or the Little Match Girl who froze to her death, and Pinocchio whose punishment for dishonesty was deformity? And how about the Little Mermaid, whose every step hurt like a thousand swords, and who was asked to slay her beloved so she could live?

Disney interpretations, already sterilized as they are, still have truly terrifying moments. My first movie experience was Snow White, and I remember having nightmares about the scene in the woods after the huntsman’s failed attempt to kill her.

So let’s take a look at those fairy tales again. We’ll probably get a kick out of the underlying sex and violence that we probably were oblivious to the first time we read them, but let’s look beyond those. Even when we grow up and cynically scoff at the improbability of happily-ever-afters, revisiting these tales as adults allows us to appreciate them more fully, bringing us deeper into the allegories that they usually are. We may think that they’re predictable, but they could still surprise us by bringing to the surface certain themes we did not know they had — metaphysical themes of morality and immortality, of self-sacrifice and identity.

Have you noticed the word’s renewed fascination for fairy tales? Writers, filmmakers, and composers have discovered the treasures in their depths and have commenced the mining.


Beauty's Punishment

Some novelists like expand on or reinterpret fairy tales. Anne Rice, an author famous for her vampire chronicles, wrote her Sleeping Beauty Trilogy under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty’s Punishment, and Beauty’s Release. Now these books are definitely not for kids, nor for faint-hearted adults, as they are BDSM erotica novels.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

Author Gregory Maguire likes to give readers new perspectives on classic tales, often switching around the protagonist and antagonist roles in his characters. His Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is told from the point-of-view of Cinderella’s younger stepsister. Mirror, Mirror is a revision of the Snow White tale which incorporates actual historical figures in the story, such as Lucrezia Borgia, whom he cast as the Evil Queen and Stepmother. His Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, based on Frank Baum’s novel, is now a Stephen Schwartz Broadway musical, Wicked.

An illustration from King Golden hair

And just last week I read an article about the discovery of 500 new fairy tales in Germany, which were collected by one Franz Xaver von Schönwerth. These myths, legends, and tales he drew from common countryfolk in long ago Bavaria, and recorded them faithfully. He didn’t edit or embellish them, and so reading them will be like a glimpse into a culture hundreds of years in the past.


Cinderella, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake have been well-loved ballets for more than a century already. Same with Hansel and Gretel, which is also an opera. But Wicked is a fairly new musical. And Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid, have also been adapted for the stage.


Once Upon a Time is a television series that is set in a fictitious town in Maine, that serves as a kind of limbo that all the fairy tale characters are exiled to. It revolves around the conflict between Snow White and the Evil Queen and incorporates a different fairy tale in each episode, oftentimes intersecting two or more. I love the well-crafted back stories to the fairy tales, and how the characters they translate to “modern” times.

And then there’s Grimm, which is a police-series-meets-fairy-tales kind of show.


Fairy tales are so inherently cinematic, so why shouldn’t they be in the movies? I can’t even count how many fairy tale movies have been made…

I loved Enchanted! It’s a wonderful amalgamation of the classic romantic fairy tales juxtaposed with the harsh reality of New York City. It’s amazing how these two seemingly incongruous realities mix so beautifully in this movie.

And wow, two Snow White movies are to be released this year — and within 3 months of each other! Add that to the TV Snow White, that’s a lot. Hope we don’t overdose.


That’s it for fairy tales, for now. I haven’t even started on nursery rhymes!

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Bloor Hot Docs Cinema – the Grand Opening

Bloor Cinema interiors

All images via Bloor Hot Docs, photo credit Joseph Michael

Toronto is a good city for film.  We’ve got the Toronto Film Festival, with its newly established home at the Lightbox, a cinema and gallery space that curates unique film, art, and memorabilia programming year-round in addition to workshops and lectures.  We’ve even got a handful of nabes still in operation: many of these single screen gems will be celebrating their centennial in the not-too-distant future.  These cinemas, preserved in part, and frequented by, the foot traffic of their communities, offer a nostalgic throw-back to a bygone era before the multiplex, when cinema was considered art and a reason to go out, dolled up even.

The newly renovated Bloor Cinema

Another incredible film festival operating out of Toronto is Hot Docs, a documentary film festival.  Each spring, Hot Docs brings more than 150 documentaries from Canada and around the world to the screen during their annual juried festival showcasing some of the word’s best in the genre.  And the best news?  Hot Docs recently acquired the historic Bloor Cinema, a century old Toronto landmark and have spent the last 9 months painstakingly renovating it, returning the grand dame to her former glory, while also bringing in state of the art presentation technology (frequent patrons of the old Bloor Cinema, an institution in itself, will be pleased to know this includes a new sound system, woot, woot).  The Bloor Cinema is now Hot Docs’  permanent home for its annual festival as well as a screening venue for year-round documentary programming, and will function as hub for, and host to, both special documentary events and smaller film festivals.  They’ll even bring back some of the Bloor’s special programming.  Bloor Hot Docs Cinema is one of the world’s only documentary cinemas.

Rows of seats at Bloor cinema

At the entrance hall of Bloor

The theatre hosts an open house today and tomorrow with a free screening of Waste Land about renowned Brazilian artist Vik Muniz who uses garbage and food waste to create his socially conscious pieces. I’m going later this week to see Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey.

And then later in the month I hope to be back for a pretty awesome  looking doc on the life of Charles and Ray Eames, AKA Mr. and Mrs. Mid Century modern, who together transformed American design.  The doc is entitled Eames: The Architect and the Painter, which I’ll happily report on here.  Here’s the trailer:

Bloor Hot Docs Cinema’s full monthly schedule can be found here. If you’re a lover of cinema and fan of documentaries, consider supporting them with a membership or discount card.   At any rate, I wish them the absolute best of luck!

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Artist Spotlight: Cybele Young

Paper art by Cybele Young

Did you Feel Something

(all images from cybeleyoung.ca except where otherwise noted)

If you’ve been following the blog for awhile you know that many of us here at the Design Tree have an infatuation with paper, and especially with all the marvelous things you can make with it.  Toronto-based paper-artist, printmaker and filmmaker Cybele Young creates tiny, intricately-detailed sculptures out of Japanese papers. Here is a peek at a few of her works.

Art made from paper, by Cybele Young

I’m Still Looking

An artwork by Cybele Young

It’s Worth it This Time

Art by Cybele Young

It Should Groove There by Cybele Young at Gallery Jones

Paper sculpture by Cybele YoungDress

It’s hard to believe everything is made out of paper, isn’t it?I am in complete awe of Cybele’s Young’s work. The patience and craft of her paper sculptures is unbelievable. She has even made a couple of films that show her paper creations in motion.

Young’s etchings and printmaking work is also wonderful. All her prints are copperplate etching with chine cole or silkscreen.  Here are a couple of her etchings.  There is definitely plenty of humour in the way she gives everyday objects a life of their own.

Print by Cybele YoungEyebulbs

Etching by Cybele YoungRunaway

If you’re hungry to see more of her work you can head to her website. Young also shows work at Forum Gallery in New York and LA, Rebecca Hossack Gallery in the UK, Gallery Jones in Vancouver and Newzones gallery for contemporary art in Calgary.

And as if her artistic accomplishments aren’t enough Young is also a Governor’s General Award winning Children’s book author and illustrator. Her two books Ten Birds and A Few Blocks will delight pint-size art aficionados and adults alike. People this talented make me envious, but mostly they just make me thankful that they exist because they bring so much beauty into the world.

Happy Friday Everyone!

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