ECLECTIC ELEMENTS: A Ceramic Exhibit with Paintings, by Magi Amma
This exhibition showcases a Bowen painter, Aileen Marie Vantomme, four Bowen ceramicists, Bob Bates, Babette Deggan, Russell Hackney, and Jeanne Sarich, as well as three exciting ceramic artists from the Vancouver area, Suzy Birstein, Debra Sloan, and Suzanne Starr.
The exhibit is at The Gallery @ Artisan Square on Bowen Island from July 20 to Aug 7, 2011. The hours are 10am to 5pm from Wednesday to Sunday. Everyone is welcome to meet the artists at the reception on July 24th from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Although the artworks are distinctly different, they all have sumptuous surfaces. The ceramicists employ a variety of methods in firing techniques to create, sculpture, non-functional vessels and traditional functional ware. The colors range from stark whites to deep dark browns to brilliant iridescent colours. The result is an engaging exhibit with a wide spectrum of interesting work.
The ceramics are counterpointed by the exquisite paintings of Aileen Marie Vantomme with surfaces that look like interestingly glazed pottery. She says about her work, I use a “methodical approach to the preparation of the canvas. After establishing a structured canvas through the manipulation of found materials, fabric and paper, I then apply colour in an emotional response to the formed foundation.” Suzanne Starr’s works are the inverse of Vantomme’s paintings. Her vessels are smoke-fired in a primitive outdoor kiln to encourage marks and blushes of colour. Starr ‘paints’ on the clay with fumes and smoke. Each pot is marked in a unique way. She says, “I work in clay because I love the search for a beautiful shape ? just the right curve, the over-all balance and how the finished piece sits with the hint of a shadow line.”
The Figure dominates Suzy Birstein’s work. Her brilliantly colored, sculptures and bowls synthesize elements from many cultures and mythologies. They ‘blend archetypal icons that embrace the power of ancient and contemporary world cultures.’ Birstein says, ‘I long to merge the power of Nefertiti with the spirit of Carmen Miranda.’ She communicates through the faces and figures that dominate her art, driven by a stream-of-consciousness process. Birstein will be offering a ‘Mia Muse’ workshop on Skopelos, the Greek island where “Mamma Mia” was filmed this coming September. Debra Sloan’s clay sculptures also employ figurative imagery. She likes to ‘propose an unexpected view by removing the subject from its usual state and nudging the observer to question their expectations.’ Sloan is interested in ‘the symbiotic relationship, the affinity that exists between clay and the depiction of the body, human or animal.’ She received a Visual Arts Award from the BC Arts Council and a Scholarship from Circle Craft Co-op to assist with a residency at the Nemzetkozi Keramia Studio in Hungary.
Russell Hackney’s slip cast works draw their inspiration from nature. He says, “Beauty calls us to itself. It halts us in our daily routine and just for a moment all distractions, all opinions, are silenced; beauty becomes the unifier.” Hackney’s most notable achievement was modeling, along with mastermolds and casing, a replica 19th Century clock that was presented to the Queen. He learned the craft of plaster mold-making for ceramics as an apprentice in Stoke-on Trent, England, a city also known as ‘The Potteries,’ birthplace of fine ceramics such as Wedgwood and Royal Doulton.
Two of the artists create more traditional ceramic ware. ‘Pottery’ has been Babette Deggan’s ‘life long passion.’ Deggan is exhibiting small hand thrown crackle glazed pottery. She has divided her time between France and Canada for the last 30 years, enjoying the best of both worlds: summers in a 15th century house at the top of a medieval hill village and winters on Bowen Island overlooking Howe Sound. Jeanne Sarich’s ceramics are “inspired by the perfection of Sung Dynasty Chinese ceramics, the asymmetry of Momoyama Japanese ceramic objects and the quiet beauty of the Koryo and Yi Dynasty Korean work.” Sarich represented Canada at ‘Festival Canada’ with her raku tea bowls and striking fire-marked plates. Another Bowen artist, at 80 years old, Bob Bates’ ceramics are informed by the mosaic of a lifetime of varied experiences, from working in Britain’s coal mines at age 14 to traveling Canada’s railways as a waiter in the dining car.
The Gallery @ Artisan Square is operated by the Bowen Island Arts Council. It is situated at Artisan Square, along with a number of other galleries, boutiques and eateries. Bowen Island is a short 20-minute distance from Vancouver, via ferry from Horseshoe Bay. For updates regarding BIAC activities and events, please visit their website at www.biac.ca.
Suzy Birstein suzybirstein.com
Russell Hackney russellhackneyceramics.com
Debra Sloan debrasloan.com
Suzanne Starr suzannestarr.com
Aileen Marie Vantomme vantomme.ca
For more information contact: Magi Amma, 604-947-0380, firstname.lastname@example.org