Beautiful Books: Flower Diary

October 5, 2021

Mary Hiester Reid was a prolific Canadian painter and teacher who was best known for her floral still lifes. But after her death in 1921, her legacy and art all but vanished from the public sphere. Discovering her work for the first time at the Art Gallery of Ontario, poet and biographer Molly Peacock began working on a biography of Reid's life and art called  Flower Diary: Mary Hiester Reid Paints, Travels, Marries & Manages a Threesome available now from ECW Press. Find out more about Mary Hiester Reid, her work and legacy, below.




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An excerpt from Flower Diary 



The Open Door

She left a door ajar, slipping through a threshold into the almost impossible-to-balance world of love and art. Over three hundred paintings and a lifelong commitment to a partner: she’s one of the artists from the past who made it possible to live and love in the present. Often, we who look for models of creativity learn the names of those who banged down doors and wrecked their own and others’ lives. But she, who mined a rich and unconventional interior life while clothed in discreet propriety, turned the handle more quietly. And handle is a word that belongs to this woman who made still lifes like diary pages and landscapes like dream logs. She planned and coped, sized up situations, then seized moments, managing a subtle ménage with her painter husband and their talented student in a stiff society, all the while making five transatlantic journeys and creating some of the most devastatingly expressive works you’ve likely never seen, signing them Mary Hiester Reid.




Images from Flower Diary 



"Nasturtiums" by Mary Hiester Reid




"Three Roses" by Mary Hiester Reid 




Click here for a short clip of how Molly Peacock discovered Mary Hiester Reid and what drew her to the painter's work.





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Molly Peacock by Candice Ferreira

Molly Peacock is a poet, biographer, essayist, and writer of tales whose multi-genre literary life has taken her from New York City to Toronto, from poetry to prose, from words to words-and-pictures, and from lyric self-examination to curiosity about the lives of others. 

Photo credit Candice Ferreira














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