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ELIZABETH CLEAVER MEMORIAL LECTURE by Irene E. Aubrey I am honoured and happy to have been asked to speak about Elizabeth Cleaver. She had been scheduled to participate in this conference, but cancer claimed her life on July 27, 1985. I met Elizabeth for the first time in 1969 when one day she came to the Westmount Public Library where I worked, and in a friendly, casual way, introduced herself to me. I had just been looking at her two books, How Summer Came To Canada and The Mountain Goats of Temlaham. I was deaghted to meet her, of course, and over a period of sixteen years in which we remained good friends, Elizabeth's greetings were always warm and spontaneous. Once embarked on a career as an illustrator, Elizabeth Cleaver never wavered in her determination to make beautiful picture books and this commitment was a guiding force in her life. Even though she began as young as three years old to cut and tear paper, an activity which, over the years, would serve well in helping her to develop her collage technique, Elizabeth didn't come to the full realization of where her true talent lay until she began her university studies. Elizabeth's full name was Elizabeth Ann Mrazik Cleaver. She was bom on November 19, 1939, in Montreal, of Hungarian-Canadian parents, Rosalia and Frank Mrazik, who had immigrated to Canada in the 1930s. Elizabeth was the youngest of four children. A sister and brother still reside in Montreal and another brother lives in Budapest. Her parents died in the early 1980s. Elizabeth received her elementary education at Aberdeen School in Montreal and part of her secondary education in Sarospatak in Hungary, where the family had returned after the war years, in the expectation of again taking up permanent residence. The family came back to Canada, however, in the late 1950s. Elizabeth resumed her studies in science; all the children had pursued science studies and Elizabeth was particularly interested in mathematics. While attending Sir George Williams University (now Sir George Williams Campus of Concordia University) Elizabeth made the discovery that her real interests were in the area of art and design. She had prepared her first collage that eventually became pages 28 and 29 in her book How Summer Came to Canada-It depicts the scene of Winter-which keeps the Far North in its icy grip. Elizabeth was now interested to learn more about the principles of art and design and took further instruction at the School of Art and Design of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Ecole des Beaux Arts. She also took the time to acquire practical secretarial skills. By the middle of the 1960s, Elizabeth was married to Edward Cleaver and living in Toronto. She hoped to find a career in this city as an illustrator of children's books. To help support herself, she worked as a secretary for an advertising firm. She had completed twenty collage pictures for a children's story called The Dragon Story written by Ted Wood. She tried unsuccessfully to get it published and it remains unpublished. (All the publishers felt that it would be too expensive to reproduce her collages in full colours.) She entered one of the collages in the New York Society of Illustrators Annual National Exhtoltion in 1968 and was given a Citation for Merit. To use Elizabeth's own words, she was "trying to find her way in art. As a child, I always enjoyed cutting paper and playing with cut-out books. In a way, I went back to that time and made my images from simple cut-out shapes, guided by spontaneous intuition" ("Words and Images" 186). Elizabeth had met Judith St. John who was the Head of the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith Collections at the Toronto Public Library. At a reception to celebrate Young Canada Book Week in 1967, Miss St. John introduced Elizabeth to Willem Toye, editorial director at Oxford University Press in Toronto. Thus began a professional relationship which would produce a series of fine books, beginning with the one on poetry called The Wind Has Wings: Poems from Canada. In several cases...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1553-1201
Print ISSN
0885-0429
Pages
pp. 11-16
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
N
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