This ‘Year in Review’ has been a project I’ve had churning in my mind ever since I was a kid and it comes with a bit of a backstory. My Gran, an artist and teacher, would draw out the pathway of her marriage to my Grandad on each anniversary. She illustrated significant life events and historical moments on panels of an accordion-folded notecard, continually adding to the chain. My mother continued this tradition for my father and I grew up watching each segment of their path grow.
I wanted to begin my own interpretation of this familial tradition while putting my own spin on it. Instead of a winding path, I’ve organized it in the way I mentally picture the calendar year. Sometimes called ‘calendar synesthesia’, this neurological phenomenon affects how certain people’s visual pathways are stimulated when thinking of the months of the year. This mental picture looks different for each person. For me, I organize the months as they appear in this illustration. A rectilinear structure with a condensed series of spring months progressing clockwise to summer at the south end, leading to fall on the west side and closing the year at the north end. As time goes by, I situate myself within this visual diagram so it felt fitting to organize the events of the year within this framework.
I’ve chosen to leave off personal moments for now and kept it to important social, political, and cultural events using the convention of a period in art history. This year I’ve chosen medieval illuminated manuscripts. In particular, I spent some time researching the illuminated manuscript "Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry', which is an example of a 'book of hours'. This book and other canonical prayer books of the Middle Ages were illuminated with visuals for each calendar month and became a fitting starting point for this new annual tradition. Throughout my illustration, the rendering of environmental details and figures reference medieval architecture and stylistic conventions. In this way, a visual link between the current year and those of the past is created. While fresh in our collective memory, one day the event and memories of the passing year will be recorded to history books and archived in museums just as the past centuries have done.
I hope you enjoy discovering the symbols within each month, but if anything trips you up, I’ve created a ‘key’ listing each event referenced for every month and the date where applicable.
MONTHLY VISUAL 'KEY'
1. (8th) ‘Megxit’ Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, announce they are stepping back as senior members of the British royal family.
2. (8th) Flight 752 was shot down in Iran. 63 Canadians were on board.
3. Australian bushfires burn 18.6 million hectares of land.
4. (26th) 18-year-old, Billie Eilish wins 5 Grammy awards.
5. (26th) Kobe Bryant dies in a helicopter crash.
6. (3rd) China informs WHO of an outbreak of a pneumonia like virus in Wuhan. (30th) The WHO declares the outbreak a Public Health Emergency.
7. (5th) US President, Donald Trump, is acquitted on articles of impeachment.
8. (9th) Parasite becomes the first foreign-language film to win the Best Picture Oscar.
9. (11th) WHO names the virus COVID-19 for “coronavirus disease 2019”.
10. (9th) Stock market crash as countries enter lockdown.
11. (11th) WHO declares the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Many Canadians begin working from home.
12. (20th) Tiger King true crime docuseries is released on Netflix.
13. Governments encourage frequent hand washing to curb the spread of COVID-19.
14. Empty toilet paper shelves in stores as people panic buy and stockpile supplies.
15. (18-19th) Nova Scotia shootings mark the deadliest rampage in Canadian history.
16. Long-term care homes experience staffing shortages and become the epicenters of the pandemic.
17. TikTok app surpasses 2 billion downloads, 315 Million in Q1.
18. People with more time at home start new hobbies like baking bread.
19. Hand sanitizers become a staple of retail stores, public spaces, and homes.
20. (25th) George Floyd killed by police in Minneapolis sparking worldwide protests.
21. (29th) Lady Gaga releases her 6th studio album Chromatica.
22. Students celebrate their graduations in socially distant ways.
23. Wearing face masks in public becomes mandatory in certain municipalities.
24. Black Lives Matter Protests swell throughout the US and other parts of the world sparked by the death of George Floyd.
25. Statues of historical figures who represent systemic racism are torn down during protests, (pictured) Christopher Columbus in Saint Paul Minnesota (10th).
26. (3rd) Broadway musical, Hamilton, is released on Disney+.
27. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, originally scheduled for Jul 24th - Aug 9th, are
postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic.
postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic.
28. (10th) 6th century cathedral, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, converts to a Mosque.
29. (24th) Taylor Swift drops surprise album Folklore.
30. (2nd) SpaceX returns to Earth as first commercially built/operated spacecraft.
31. (4th) Explosion in the port of Beirut kills 204 and leaves over 6,000 injured.
32. (18th) State of emergency declared for Californian wildfires.
33. (28th) Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther actor, dies.
34. (18th) US Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dies.
35. (20th) Canadian comedy, Schitts Creek, wins a record 9 awards at the Emmys.
36. Students head back to school with a mix of in-person and online classrooms.
37. Fashion month goes on as designers present physical and digital shows.
38. (2nd) Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump test positive for COVID-19.
39. US Presidential debates between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
40. (7th) Canadian Liberal government to ban certain single-use plastics in 2021.
41. (23rd) Chess historical drama, The Queen’s Gambit is released, becoming Netflix’s most watched miniseries.
42. (3rd) US election day, 65 million mailed-in ballots delay results.
43. (7th) Joe Biden declared President Elect, Kamala Harris becomes the first women to be elected to the vice presidency.
44. (8th) Alex Trebek, Jeopardy! host, dies.
45. (15th) The Crown Season 4 is released on Netflix.
46. (27th) Online Black Friday shopping surges amid pandemic.
47. Harry Styles becomes the first man to appear solo on the cover of Vogue.
48. A series of monoliths appear in locations around the world of unknown origin.
49. (8th) The UK begins vaccinating for COVID-19 with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. (9th) Canada approves the same vaccine.
50. Around the world, families face an atypical holiday season as travel restrictions prevent regular trips and gatherings during Christmas.