UPDATE: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL IS BEING RE-WORKED AND THEREFORE SET TO “PRIVATE” WITH RESTRICTED ACCESS
My work is based on extensive research, interviews and published accounts. I use mainly primary and secondary sources in order to build the story. I have attempted to stick to the facts in the text and avoid assumptions, yet draw conclusions from the circumstantial evidence. Visual scenes have been created for the purposes of dramatization. This is a work of creative non-fiction inspired by true facts, physical evidence and historical research. In the end, this is my artistic interpretation and nothing more than that.
I am so glad I went alone, for not only could I soak in the event itself (as I am passionate about this case), but I could really sit in my personal grief.
This was the room I sat in with my Mom as we first listened to a lecture about the Babes in the Wood because of an article my Dad had given me from the Vancouver Sun. —
Mom and Dad- the two people who tirelessly worked with me, traveled with me across the Lower Mainland in search of clues, relished in talking history, mapping it out, tending grave sites and the scene in the park… Who could handle my endless chatter. Who loved to hear about the latest unfolding and discovery.
Mom and Dad- who also shared my interest in the case covered by last night’s event, who shared deep concern for the women of the DTES and who came with me to the healing tent, who shared concern for the families, who helped me deliver art for fundraisers and who drove me to meetings with police officers and family members, who helped host events at schools, who came with me to the trial, who despaired at the failure of the system, who cut out articles and analyzed and discussed and inspired me to work with at-risk youth.
Cut to 12+ years later, and I am back in that room at the Central Branch. And Mom and Dad are not here to share this profound event with me.
They are not here.
And so I feel it.
It starts in the toes and wells upward through the legs and spine. I swallow water as the wave lifts me upward, whiplashes and slaps me forward face down on the shore.
And I lie there, listening to the Bergmaneque soundtrack…
… realizing that somehow- I’m still alive.
Get up, wipe myself off. Dry off in the sun. Sit for awhile looking out over the amniotic sea in absolute gratitude for the memories and gifts Mom and Dad gave me.
As part of Instalment 1 Exposition, I am creating a new street art wall in the city of Vancouver of 100 real people to represent the soul of the city.
The 100 faces will be cut out and collaged together and wheatpasted on January 15, 2015, the 62nd anniversary of the discovery the skeletons in Stanley Park. The wall image will appear in instalment 1 as part of setting the scene for telling the story.
I am inviting YOU to add your face and to be part of the wall and thus be part of the graphic novel!
For $20, you will be drawn in my signature style and the original portrait will become part of the 100 faces wall. I will email you a photo of your portrait. I will also share your image on my blog and my social media sites as the process develops and your name will appear in acknowledgments. I will also send out the invite for the wheatpaste session on January 15 in case you are in the Vancouver area!
All ages are encouraged.
To become a part of my project, you email me your photo of choice
On March 7, 2013, I was humbled at the generosity of Salmagundi West owner Anna Banner who allowed us to use her store as a back drop for our latest photoshoot!
I was joined by Jocelyn Louise (who portrays Molly) and stylist Jay Fisher…
… and my daughter Anna Thorsen who took the main shots (to be shared in the book).
Here are some moments I captured. The focus for me was to emulate Molly’s restless travels.
Where dips the rocky highland Of Sleuth Wood in the lake, There lies a leafy island Where flapping herons wake The drowsy water-rats; There we’ve hid our faery vats, Full of berries And of reddest stolen cherries. Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild With a faery, hand in hand, For the world’s morefull of weeping than you can understand.
Sometimes, the truths that we hold to be fixed in our culture develop a fissure, which widens into a crack, and as we watch, the mirror shatters shard by shard, until nothing is left but fragments of the prejudice lying in disarray at our feet.
– Patricia Pearson, Perceptions of Female Violence and the Vocabulary of Motive
It rasped her, though, to have stirring about in her this brutal monster! To hear twigs cracking and feel hooves planted down in the depths of that leaf-encumbered forest, the soul; never to be content quite, or quite secure.
As I experiment with marrying text to illustration in my graphic novel, I am working from the end backwards, creating a working title and promotional mockup. Acting as if the book is completed, the project feels organized and allows me to create a skeletal framework on which to flesh out ideas. This framework can then be dismantled, contorted and altered as needed. It is not the final result by any means, but it is a great way to MOVE FORWARD. And I’m moving forward fast!
I have some exciting ideas as to how to present the finished work (format, paper etc) but first I will marry image to page and and image and pages to chapters and I am loving the creative process. Next up is ensuring all the permissions are in place for using primary sources, news articles, photographs and names within the work. And more photoshoots!
He brushed the leaves aside and uncovered the most baffling double murder Vancouver has ever had.
– The Vancouver Province April 15, 1953
Who killed the Babes in the Wood? Artist, art therapist and researcher, Katarina Thorsen, makes her case as to the resolution of this historical Vancouver mystery through crime scene reconstruction, forensic taphonomy, historical archives, genealogical records, behavior evidence analysis, circumstantial connections and artistic interpretation. Katarina first immersed herself in the investigation in 2003 when she volunteered as a criminal profiler and researcher with the Babes in the Wood Task Force. She has remained dedicated to the case ever since.
Using a combination of text, primary sources, illustrations and photographs, Katarina now presents her research journey, equivocal findings and creative process to the reader. The goal is to identify the children whose skeletal remains were found in Stanley Park on January 15, 1953. Through rich and insightful imagery, Regarding Molly reveals a portrait of a troubled young woman in post war Vancouver. The reader is encouraged to draw their own conclusion as to the identity of the Babes in the Wood, their mother and killer.
Following Katarina’s lead, readers will be inspired to search out their own stories using intensive genealogical research.
Artist/ art therapist Katarina Thorsen is passionate about the power of research and collaborative approaches to create solutions. She specializes in providing therapeutic art to at-risk youth and young offenders. Her own art work includes drawing, painting, crafting, journaling and street art and can be found in private international collections and on the streets of North America and Europe. She believes wholeheartedly in the healing power of art and its ability to build connections. Katarina resides in Vancouver, BC.
As an artist/researcher/behavior evidence analyst, these photos fill every cell of my being with joy! It is wonderful to allow a fellow artist the freedom to do his work within the context/limits of a vision. Extraordinary.
She waved as she made her way to the back door and out to the fire escape stairs. The firewood was stored under a musty tarp on the landing, and the hatchet [he] used to make kindling sat rusty and dull on top. [She] never noticed the hatchet placed in that way before, not in all the weeks and months she’d been climbing these fire escape steps. It was a sign, she knew, and though she wondered what exactly she would do with the hatchet if the footsteps followed her again, she snatched the thing up and rested it on her shoulder.
I love that all I am doing in my art and career feeds the graphic novel, even if I’m not working on pages in the book per se.
When I do my street art, I am utilizing the style and perfecting the technique and medium I am using in Molly.
When I am working with my Dad on our book, I am learning the ropes in independent publishing and utilizing the plan for the book with Dad laid out by Julie Salisbury to organize the way I present Molly. Julie has an extraordinary ability to see the complete project and I will be using her teachings to organize the next steps. Her Mastermind weekend intensive infused me with such clarity and confidence.
We start at the end– visualize what the book will look like. Judge the book by it’s cover.
Truly liberating to allow the creative process to sustain itself. Everything feeds everything else!
“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”
― Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes
One of the 19th-century’s most notorious socioarchitectural phenomena were the “insane asylums” that housed the era’s mentally ill — enormous and stunning buildings whose architecture stood in stark contrast with the ominous athmosphere of their inner workings. Fascinated by this phenomenon and its ghosts, photographer Christopher Payne set out to document the afterlife of those baleful buildings in Asylum: Inside The Closed World Of State Mental Hospitals — a compendium of images that peel away at a lost world and, in the process, offer a provocative portrait of the history of our (mis)treatment of the mentally ill. A foreword by iconic neuroscientist Oliver Sacks frame the photographs in a sociocultural context of how these institutions evolved and what role they came to play, both in their time and in our reflections on history.
My friend, Darcy, and I poured over it, at once fascinated, sad, gleeful and horrified. We talked about what it may mean to us, to any of us, to feel these conflicting emotions.
For me, there is such a visual metaphor in these massive fortresses. No matter how large they were, they could not contain the anarchistic and primitive human spirit stripped raw by mental illness/circumstance/trauma/misunderstanding. There was an attempt to contain and cure.
But what are we containing? How? Why? What are we killing by “curing” as opposed to embracing and providing a safe haven, a nurturing environment? And what about the seemingly failed experiment of outdoor asylums like the Downtown Eastside?
The information teenage women were receiving at the time regarding their physical, personal and sexual development was truly horrifying from my perspective now. This is what makes this book one of the most frustrating and fascinating reads. WOW. Delicious and tragic.
And of course, the chapter on homosexuality:
BUT- what makes this book even more special are the margin notes by the teen, Laura H. [Full name is in the book, but for privacy, I’ll just use last initial]. It adds so much to the experience. I wonder who she was. Where she ended up. What a window into this young woman’s life!
Handwritten “owners” name on the inside, as well as some notes, underlining, & check marks she made on certain sections of the book that appeared to interest her which adds to the character to the book. – LOST BEAR STUDIO
Lost Bear Studio is my Collection of Vintage finds. I collect housewares, jewelry, decor & kitsch… I love art and all things creative, colorful, upcycled, repurposed & recycled… I collect a variety of quality vintage and antique treasures. My specialty items include home decor, housewares, storage items (tins, boxes, ANYTHING with drawers) & vintage accessories and jewelry. I collect items that catch my eye, and bring them to you, in the hopes that my descriptions will give you ideas you can utilize in your own home. – A. N. Fowler, Lost Bear Studio