February 26 to March 13, 2022
Tuesday to Saturday
Noon to 5 pm
Meet the Artist:
Saturday, February 26. 2 to 4 pm
Prior to the work that I began when COVID set in during March of 2020 I had been producing a body of work which was abstract with colourful shapes on a mostly off-white background. The surfaces were rich and were created by applying on to paper a mixture of acrylic medium and a gypsum-based compound. Successive layers of tinted acrylic were then applied, creating then obscuring, revealing then hiding. These “gel skins” applied in layers to glass were then carefully lifted off the glass then dropped on to the spackled paper. This deliberately uncontrollable manipulation of my materials determined the direction of my work in which chance played a large part. The challenge for me was before the work found its own voice, before it was able to engage in a dialogue with me.
After a time of working in this somewhat labored manner, I was casting about wanting to find a more direct and immediate way of engaging with my process. The solution came when at the beginning of COVID a group of us artists began to send each other daily drawings of whatever we had at hand in our immediate environments.
Not having done much drawing from life before I began tentatively using a pencil to capture the essence of my favourite cow skull sitting in my studio then moving on to a windex bottle whose form caught my eye as I cleaned the glass of my palate. Working with blind contour, looking at the object not at my drawing as I worked, the lines I created were quick, honest and fresh if not perfectly correct. The experience felt to me completely new and my results unexpected and exciting.
I moved on to some baroque antique porcelain figurines which were fortunate to have escaped being hurled across the room as I tried to capture them in pen and ink. Finally I was drawn on to a simpler subject, that being an elegant set of Czechoslovakian blue and white porcelain cups and saucers which I inherited from my parents. Working with dip pen and various nibs I fell in love with the elegant forms of the cups which increasingly lent themselves to abstraction and the immediacy and unforgiving nature of the medium itself.
Eventually the drawings became larger, more complex and farther removed from the actual cups themselves. Somewhere along the way I realized that I was returning to my roots in pure abstraction but with materials and skills at hand upon which I could build. And so it continues…..
As an only child I had lots of time to myself, and I loved making things and doing art. But setting out for college I decided I should concentrate on a field that would pretty much guarantee me a living, so I majored in Bilingual Elementary Education. One day in a chaotic classroom convinced me I had made a big mistake. Having suppressed my creative drive-in university to get a diploma I decamped immediately upon graduation to Aspen, Colorado where I skied, nannied three kids plus several animals and earned extra cash creating and selling jewelry I made mostly out of chicken bones.
When the nanny job ended, I moved to Los Angeles followed by a summer in New Orleans where I enlarged my jewelry business adding exotic materials such as dried goat turds, snake skins, feathers and even a turquoise raffia placemat to my repertoire of materials. The work sold well in the French Quarter.
In 1977 I came to Vancouver and scored a free studio downtown in what was the new Harbour Centre. When I lost that space, I worked in what was formerly the laundry room of my apartment building casting some twenty life-sized fabric/plaster figures for the B.C. Pavilion for Expo 86 followed by a life-size sculpture of then Mayor Mike Harcourt for the Vancouver Museum. Then, inspired by some papier-mâché animal sculptures I saw while travelling in Mexico I made a series of over 70 chicken wire trophy heads using materials as diverse as a red shower curtain which became a ten-foot-long alligator as well as a Frilled Lizard with teeth made of cut-up erasers.
In 1985 I sent a herd of twelve ghostly cows of cast fabric supported by split cedar armatures to the 12th International Biennial of Tapestry exhibiting Textile Sculpture in Lausanne, Switzerland.
In the mid 1980’s I made a number of sculptures which I referred to as my egg/nest/womb series using gauze, twigs and rose thorns. Looking back, I wonder if those creations, which were almost like three-dimensional drawings, were leading me to work in two dimensions. By the time I got my job as a Sculpture Technician in the Synthetics Department at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 1989 I was no longer doing sculpture.
Though I enjoy working in two dimensions now I confess to secretly hoarding scavenged deer antlers and recently sawed up a 1950’s horn ashtray that my parents used when I was a kid to make a necklace. After all, no one smokes anymore