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2014/02/03 / Shanan


F*ck you, polar vortex. A few days ago we returned to your icy clutches, but we’ve got the tan-lines to prove that for 10 glorious days, we were free.

Our Barbados trip was by no means perfect (Theo got the stomach flu, and there were the usual complex dynamics at play when one vacations with one’s spouse, child, parents, sister and brother-in-law) but it sure was pretty.  I’ll let the photos do the talking…




I promise I’m not trying to make you insanely jealous, but there’s more…


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2014/01/20 / Shanan


This morning Chris, Theo and I are escaping the big chill and heading to Barbados for a little sun, surf, and family time with my parents (who we’ll be meeting down there). I’m looking forward to tearing into some novels, and my dad can’t stop talking about taking Theo for walks on the beach to pick shells.  CANNOT. WAIT.

I’ve still got blog posts scheduled and Gillian will be here to keep the homestead safe (and take care of our dog). I see lots of duty-free rum in her future. You can keep up with us on Instagram where I’ll undoubtedly be posting a ton of bikini selfless (ha, no). See you soon! xx Shanan

Image above: Theo in Barbados last year, standing at the beach gate in the early morning. Photo by Shanan Kurtz/The Symmetric.

ps. How to travel on an airplane with a toddler.

pps. Total classic.

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2013/11/29 / Gillian


So, people who know me know that a current thorn in my side is the abysmal curriculum at my eldest daughter’s rural primary school. We’re talking s-l-o-w-e-r clap than for the Collingwood Walmart (inside joke: You must read Shanan’s blog from Wednesday). And, hey – that’s not why people move to the country right? It’s for fresh air, space, and all of that fulfilling-your-inner hippie stuff.

Except what about the folks with kids who live here and send their kids off to rote photocopy-land everyday? Good question. One that I don’t have the answer for in its entirety, but for today at least, it was the School Of Symmetric. Part finishing school (this applies mostly to my youngest), part culinary institute, part atelier; today we rocked it old school. With equal pounds of butter, sugar and icing, we made dough and decorated artful sugar cookies, played outside in the snow and inside with our imaginations. There were “vacations” to Florida and Alberta (!), “strawberry gazpacho” made in a kiddo-size kitchen, forts built with pillows, and stories shared on a sheepskin rug

At the end of the day, I asked Yarrow how she liked it: “100 out of 10!” she beamed (testament to the dire state of math education we might ask?). At the same time, she confessed she is often so bored in her current classroom that she is driven to thinking about ear wax. This must be a sure sign of pen-in-the-eye ennui. She also asked me if it would always be just the five of us. Yes, we agreed, and with that the SOS secret handshake is born.

Without further ado, the photos.  As you will see, the cookie-cutting and decorating were the show-stoppers of the day. Thanks to the December issue of Bon Appétit Magazine for the holiday ‘lustre dust’ inspiration and delicious sugar cookie recipe (NB The peeps at Bon Appétit were not making their cookies with two year olds, so the end results on our end are a little more “creative!”).


This is serious business!


It’s only the beginning for these adorably hip aprons. The girls had lots of ideas about ways to use them: Painting, craft-making, cooking and gardening…Go SOS!


A determined Frida goes for the sprinkles, time and time again…!


Yarrow demonstrates the fine art of pyramid building with sprinkles to eager onlookers, Frida and Theo.


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2013/11/25 / Shanan


My weekend was filled a million tiny colourful bits… how about yours?

Image above: Rehabilitating a thrift-store coat with sew-on crystals.

ginger molasses sprinkle cookies bon appetit magazine

Theo and I made chewy ginger molasses cookies with sprinkles – a trial run for the sure-to-be copious holiday baking to come.  Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit magazine (can you truly call it an adaptation if all you did was add sprinkles to the mix?  Yes, yes you can).

kitchen party glitter explosion

Post-apocalyptic play-kitchen glitter explosion.

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2013/11/06 / Shanan


I’ve been thinking about the intersection of art and motherhood lately, both in the sense of figuring out the overly ballyhooed ‘life/work balance’ issue but also in finding an adequate way to express one’s feelings about a child, or about their own mother.  I mean, just watching the care with which my daughter wraps her Playmobil animals in face-cloths nearly brings me to tears.  And what do you do with that?

So I’ve found myself drawn back to the work of Janine Antoni, a New York-based artist whose career bloomed in the 1990’s with her sculpture-based performances.

The pieces I’m particularly intrigued with now are the ones that speak about this mother/child relationship.  I’m not going to lob a contemporary critical art essay at you, despite that once being a specialty of mine (talk about a talent that really does you no favours when whipped out in everyday social settings).  But I love the interplay of rigorous execution and conceptual tenderness, and that they allude to a complex and quite beautiful physical and emotional connection between two people.

I don’t know if Antoni had children of her own at the time she created these specific works (I suspect not, for whatever reason), but her reflections on the concept of motherhood are nonetheless very compelling and satisfyingly weird.  I hope you’ll think so, too.

Image above: Janine AntoniCoddle, 1999. Cibachrome print and hand carved frame, (photographic assistance courtesy of Jennifer Monick). Luhring Augustine Gallery.

Janine Antoni Umbilical Umbilical, 2000 Sterling silver cast Luhring Augustine

Umbilical, 2000. Sterling silver cast of family silverware and negative impression of artist’s mouth and mother’s hand.  Luhring Augustine Gallery.  Gritty and so elegant at the same time.

Janine Antoni Momme c-print Luhring Augustine

Momme, 1995. C-print. Luhring Augustine Gallery.  Antoni gave an artist’s talk at Parsons while I attended and she spoke about this photograph, which in fact depicts her hiding underneath her mother’s dress, her head made to appear like the pregnant belly (and you can see her extra foot creeping out from the bottom of the skirt).

Janine Antoni Cradle steel Luhring Augustine

Cradle, 1999. 2 tons of steel. Luhring Augustine Gallery.  The cool strength and magnitude of the construction shovel gives way to the most tiny and delicate of baby spoons.

Janine Antoni is represented by Luhring Augustine in New York.

Ps. Some more virtual curatorial work from the blog:  I’ll Be Your Mirror  / Unsettled: Imaginary Spaces  /  I Miss Your Face 

Pps. We’ve got a post from Gillian coming up next on Friday…