Jane Watt needs her living room back.
Please help the local author and historian who currently has almost 2,000 copies of her new coffee table book stacked up in her living room.
To showcase Places of Her Heart: The Art and Life of Barbara Boldt, Watt is hosting a book launch at Fort Langley Community Hall on Monday.
That's where people will get a look at the new book that contains lavish colour photos of Boldt's art works, as well as pages about the Glen Valley artist's life.
An award-winning Fort Langley writer, Watt began to work with Boldt in 2010 to shape the story of her life and to work through her formidable archive. Boldt had called Watt, asking is she could suggest someone who might want to write the story of her life.
"Barbara's story," Watt noted, "is a fascinating one. It not only chronicles the changes to Langley over the last three decades as large developments such as Walnut Grove have become part of the fabric of the Township, but it reminds us of the importance of community advocacy in times of change. And above all, it reminds us not to lose sight of the even bigger parts of life: connection with people, joy in the every-day, and taking time to notice what Barbara calls the 'small and magnificent' things around us."
Boldt has art in her blood (even if she didn't actively pursue it until well into middle age). The book includes sketches of the 1850 tour of the Rhine by Eulalia Holzapfel Hartmann, as well as sketches Hartmann's son and Boldt's great uncle, Robert Hartmann when he ventured to Africa in 1863.
"I have always known there was art in the family, and I feel the responsibility to honour that, to live with it, to make a living with it," Boldt said in the book. "It makes me quite proud that I can do that."
Born in Germany in 1930, Boldt immigrated to Canada just after World War II, married, and raised a family before turning her attention to painting in the 1970s.
The pair met over coffee and cookies Monday mornings over a couple of years, shaping the story, and cataloging the more than 900 oil paintings, 400 pastels and 300-plus watercolours that Boldt has records of.
Watt's job was made easier thanks to Boldt's lifelong habit of journaling, as far back as the Second World War, and her collection of family photos that stretch back to the origins of photography.
"What surprised me most about this project was how much an 'ordinary' woman can quietly achieve," Watt commented.
The book is Watt's latest. Her other works include a history of B.C.'s dairy industry, various works on Derby Reach and heritage farming in that area, and Fraser River flooding.
While it may seem she's all over the 'Langley' map in terms of topics, they all have a common thread.
"Most of my work has been about people and the stories of people, so I guess that's what holds them together despite their seeming diversity," the author said.
High Water was about people living on the floodplain of the Fraser and the accommodations people made and still make to live there - also the rewards of being close to one of North America's largest rivers.
Milk Stories was about the efforts of people to get agriculture underway in the province.
"My academic work has been about women writers and their stories, and my consulting work is usually about how people came to/adapted to - and adapted the place - to different realities in the Fraser Valley," she said.
That includes Derby Reach in terms of Royal Engineers, heritage apples, and heritage farms (a suite of brochures she did for Metro Vancouver and the Derby Reach Brae Island Park Association).
"I try to tease out the human stories and the stories of connection when I write, so this work with Barbara fits in well," Watt said. "It's an extremely human story about an individual life in postwar Europe and Canada - but it has resonances well beyond the individual. It's about the ability to believe in yourself and to just keep working toward your dreams."
Places of Her Heart will be available at local venues, including the Langley Centennial Museum, Wendel's Bookstore Café, the Fort Wine Company, Mac's Framing in Langley City, and at Murdoch's Bookshop in Mission.
Next up for Watt is, well, more writing and more diverse topics: "I'm hoping to get some time to return to my book on early agriculture in Langley in the HBC [Hudson Bay Company] era. And painter Richard Cole and I have written a children's book called The Boy Who Paints which will be released in Alberta in the third week of February 2013. It will be released here probably in early March."
Places of Her Heart: The Art and Life of Barbara Boldt will be launched at Fort Langley Community Hall on Nov. 19, 7-9 p.m.
The Fort Wine Company will be hosting a wine tasting and appetizers will be created by Jane's sister - Langley doctor and foodie - Beth Watt. RSVP: kjwatt@ telus.net