Bessai and Saul stand really tall

by Amber Goodwyn


WHO: Margaret Bessai (Dunlop Art Gallery facilitator, artist, community volunteer), Gerald Saul (filmmaker, U of R film professor, blogger) and William (steampunk-ish young man, inventor). WHERE: In front of their 1940s garage-turned-giant-camera-obscura (for more info check out in the yard behind their art-filled Cathedral-area home. WORN: Margaret is wearing all black clothes, accessorized with a red scarf and silver-studded black leather clogs, with silver jewelry and her natural silver streak of hair. Gerald is in black jeans, red Doc Marten boots, a red button-up shirt and long hair. William is decked out in a bow tie, white dress shirt, athletic pants appliqued with the number 06 and sneakers. MOST PRIZED WEARABLE POSSESSION: Gerald: “Either my boots or my 14-foot silk aviator-style scarf.” Margaret: “My favourite Little Black Dress is by Lowon Pope, a Canadian designer. It’s a 1930s style floor-length evening dress cut on the bias. It has a great flow to it, fits anywhere from a size 10-12 and always looks elegant. I find every season has its favourite thing to wear— in the fall, it may be a really nice pair of gloves; summer, a great pair of sunglasses; winter, an enormous cashmere scarf. Much of the jewelry I wear has been made by artist friends, such as Jo Anne Lauder, Debra Potter, Gail Daggett. I also admire Melody Armstrong and Meghan Hazel’s work.” WHAT ABOUT WILLIAM? Margaret: “William has a collection of intriguing steampunk props, goggles, and a growing collection of vintage ties that he uses for films. His casual look is very understated. One of his favourites is a vintage pilot or driver’s cap, which we refer to as the  ‘Art Police’ hat.”

Regulars at art and community events around town, the Bessai-Saul family are known to many in the creative community. As a tribe of ultra-tall artists, they’re also hard to miss. “Tall people are above 6’1”, and then there’s everyone else…” says Saul. “If you’re 6 feet or under I think of you as a short person,” finishes Bessai.

In recent years Bessai has integrated a face-framing grey streak into her look. “I’ve experimented a lot with hair over the years,” Bessai says. “I’ve always had the theory that if you had good hair and good shoes, it wouldn’t really matter what else you wore; that [those elements] would pull the outfit together.”

Since Bessai often wears black and red, a few of her friends describe her as look as goth.

“It’s how I must read to other people,” says Bessai. “The choice to wear black makes a lot of sense in a gallery setting, to help offset the art. [To compensate for the black] curators usually have really great shoes or really interesting glasses.”

As a mom, Bessai has found scarves to be a practical and beautiful accessory that goes well with the all-black colour scheme.

“Someone once told me that people remember you better if you always wear the same thing,” says Saul. “When I was growing up you wanted to be average, not to stand out too much in a crowd, but I was never average because I was too tall.”

Eventually Saul went to university to study film and it was there that he decided he actually wanted to be remembered, not forgotten.

“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to make film; I want people to talk about me and talk about my film and remember something,” says Saul. “With that in mind, I don’t think I have to be fashionable, but [I] do want to wear something that people will remember, whether it’s red shoes or my hat or hair. They can describe me in three seconds and remember who I was.”