A book without words, a mystery without end, a method of printing pulled forward from another century. Welcome to the world of book artist George A. Walker.
In his new book, The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson, George carves 109 wood engravings to tell the wordless story of the Canadian landscape painter and his untimely death in Algonquin Park in 1917. Whether this man (a key member of The Group of Seven) drowned in Canoe Lake or was murdered has never been determined.
George likens the power of image in his graphic books to the cave paintings at Lascaux. “The earliest cave paintings were inspired by the interactions between humans, animals and the world they shared…Presented thoughtfully, pictures can still convey information, evoke pleasure or warning, influence behaviour and, most importantly, tell a story.”
Among his other books are The Woodcut Artist’s Handbook, Images from the Neocerebellum, and another wordless book of engraving, Book of Hours, about the world before and after 9/11. Walker is the illustrator of A Is for Alice, the first Canadian editions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking-Glass books. George has also illustrated two hand-printed books written by American author Neil Gaiman. In 2002, George was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art for his contribution to the cultural area of Book Arts.
He is that rare author who literally makes his own books: carving the wood engravings onto hand-made blocks of Canadian maple, hand-printing the text and hand-binding a limited edition of the book before showing it to a publisher.
George, an accomplished artist, illustrator and author, teaches courses in typography, print-making and book-binding at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto.