Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Garden Report: Spring in the Backyard

The bird's cherry tree will have a bumper crop this year.

A month before the Famers' Almanac predicted April 14th as the last frost day, I set up my potting area.

 I filled the soil-bin with a yummy mix suitable for sprouting seeds.

I planted seeds in reused plastic pots, egg cartons and cut down paper tubes in anticipation of finding the most successful potting container.

Once planted the trays were moved to the Propagation Room to be bathed in the weak early spring sun while being protected from frost by the glass. The sides of the room are open to cool breezes which slows germination rates but it also serves as a hardening-off area once the seeds have sprouted.

I call this the Propagation Room but what really goes on is seed germination and it is a place to safely store plant purchases. I manually water every day but if I find this inconvenient I could get a sprinkler system installed. In the meantime, I enjoy checking daily on what is happening.  Recently I went away for a week but before I left I moved every plant out to a fallow bed that is watered by the automatic sprinklers. I came back to a happy bunch of plants.

The strawberries and peonies have been magnificent this spring.

Yarrow in the 2nd apple guild is loving its sunny location.

Two years ago I planted a trial asparagus patch. It has proven to be most successful. This spring I filled the bed with more asparagus roots/crowns and their companion plants. Now we have to be patient and wait a couple more springs before we can harvest the spears.

The results of my seedling container experimentation. 
I liked the way it was easy to unroll the paper tube and pop the plant, with soil, into the hole without disturbing the side roots. But the tray of tubes became unstable in the now soggy egg carton lid tray and it took a lot of care to not drop the tray.
The roots of the plants in the egg cartons quickly grew into the carton pulp and had to be torn off before planting. My Garden Guru sister recommends not planting with the egg carton attached because the paper pulp takes a surprisingly long time to break down and in the meantime, it restricts root growth.
The reused plastic pots were ideal for the larger seeds, though I have been advised to wash the posts to sterilise them between uses to avoid passing on pathogens.

This spring it has been evident the beds are beginning to mature. I have moved a few shrubs to more suitable locations but this year I am focusing on establishing the herb layer in the beds.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Being an Artist Outside the Studio and the Skills Required

Lesley, Lingrid, Laura, Louise
Opening Reception Dualities exhibition, Cre8ery Gallery website, Winnipeg
May 9 to 21, 2019
What began in the studio results in an exhibition with many steps and stages in between. 

Ingrid Lincoln standing by her work at the Opening Reception, May 9, 2019.
Nearly half, if not more of an artist's time is spent doing things other than making art.

Louise Lamb (r) talks about her work to a guest at the opening.
An artist has to like doing all of those other art related things to be able to get the work out of the studio and in front of the public.

 Using cutting, measuring and duct tape skills to make a shipping box.
One can buy shipping boxes from a number of different sources. It is time-consuming to track down the right sized box. If it is only just big enough there is not enough room for padding to protect the work. If the box is much bigger than the work the cost of shipping is more than it needs to be or it is too big and the company can't ship it.

I prefer to make my own boxes from recycled cardboard. Yes, I have been known to dumpster dive when I see large flattened boxes sticking out of a bin. I have a large collection of boxes, cardboard and recycled packing materials in my studio's packaging room.

The box needs to be made so it can be opened when it arrives at its destination then filled again and resealed ready for the return trip. Every piece of packing material needs to be named and I often add my email to the larger padding pieces and the box. Labels need to be printed for both journeys. 

The work in this box was in an exhibition until the day before I flew to Winnipeg for Dualities. I took the work with me on the plane. At the airport there was a hiccup - it was too big to go through the x-ray machine.

The box had to cut open, the work physically examined then returned to the box and resealed with special tape with words saying the box had passed inspection. With all of that, I forgot to ask for fragile stickers for the box. As it disappeared down the conveyor belt I wished it safe travels and hoped it would be unmodified when I saw it next.

Several weeks earlier I had shipped two large boxes of art to Ingrid's place in Winnipeg. While the smaller box was within the dimensions Canda Post will ship the larger one was not. I needed a courier. Previously I have successfully shipped large, heavy boxes at the lowest prices using Greyhound buses but that company no longer exists on the island. The new company is still setting up its parcel delivery services and is not yet fully automated. I found that and their new name, Box on a Bus, slightly unreassuring. However, all was well when all three boxes were safely in Ingrid's house waiting to be hauled to the gallery.

The next step was to get the boxes from the vehicle up to the second floor of the gallery.

This was a fun part because we got to use an ancient freight elevator. The Cre8ery Gallery is in the old Exchange District of Winnipeg where there are many buildings over 130 years old.

Bob (left), the gallery art installer and Bob (right) Ingrid's husband who has enviable woodworking skills, are manually operating the elevator working it to get its floor to stop in line with the building floor.

When the artwork, tools, and equipment are all in the gallery the installation can begin. This a stage requiring another whole set of different skills the artist needs to have mastered: agility and balance shimmying up and down a ladder, steady use of the hammer, a good eye for leveling or use of a level against the art, strength to repeatedly move plinths until they are in the right place, stamina to keep working steadily for however long it takes to get things perfect. Depending on the gallery the artist will hang their own work or there will be a curator. Cre8ery's owner, Jordan Millar is an experienced and well-qualified curator and installer and she has Bob to hang the work. Her decisions and Bob's experience made for a quick hang this time with 7 people working for 3 hours.
The promotion of an exhibition is another arena where the artist needs to have knowledge and develop skills. Image management, promotion materials design, and keeping up with effective social media developments are all time-consuming activities necessary for a successful exhibition.
If the artist is the exhibition's project coordinator, as Ingrid was for Dualities, there are a lot of administrative tasks including liaising with the artist group and the gallery staff.
I do enjoy all the activities required of an artist but I have to admit some days I wish they didn't keep me out of my studio for so many hours.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Dualities Exhibition at Cre8ery Gallery Winnipeg May 9 - 21, 2019

'Dualities' is the brainchild of Ingrid Lincoln. She invited three other artists to join her in expressing this concept: Laura Feeleus, Louise Lamb and me.
The four of us are exploring two very different geographical locations - the vast expanse of the Canadian prairies with its continental climate of extremes and native plant cover of prairie grasses contrasted with the Pacific Northwest coastal region with its moderated climate and native plant cover of vast rainforests. Yes, these are both big places.

Ingrid and Louise live in the middle of the vast Canadian prairie. Laura and I live on a forest covered island next to the vast Pacific Ocean. Louise grew up on this west coast but now lives in the prairie city of Winnipeg while Laura grew up in Winnipeg but now lives in Victoria on Vancouver Island. Ingrid's childhood began in the interior continent of Europe while mine began on another temperate forest-covered island in the southern hemisphere. These experiences of contrasts in place and geographic shifts are reflected in our distinctively different art practices. 

There is also a duality in the different media and techniques within our individual practices. For Laura, it is textiles and paper she paints and waxes. Ingrid's stitched textiles are often based on her drawings. Louise uses printing inks and paints while printmaking and referencing her photographs. I work with worn domestic textiles and organic processes adding hand and machine stitches. The resulting works explore the duality of media and place.

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Louise Lamb

Another aspect of this duality concept involves how each of us approaches our work and the methods we have chosen to resolve an idea visually.
   As we explore the duality of our own geographical childhood memories and current homes we also visually express concepts either as internal or external dialogues. Imagine an X-axis geographical line intersecting with a Y-axis dialogue line forming four quadrants:

  • coastal forest + internal self-talk - Laura
  • coastal forest + external dialogue - Lesley
  • continental grasslands + internal soliloquy - Ingrid
  • continental grasslands + external conversations - Louise

 Ingrid’s work, while identified with the prairie city of Winnipeg, expresses her inner voice as a soliloquy. The conversation she holds with herself about her adopted city includes references to its people, the climate and the surrounding environment.
  Laura grew up in Winnipeg but now strongly identifies with the waters of Coastal B.C. Her art expresses a visual monologue between the two locations.
  Louise Lamb’s external conversations with her chosen materials and painting processes are influenced by her childhood home on the West Coast as well as her present home on the prairies.
 My textile work is firmly grounded in British Columbia’s maritime rainforests where I undertake external dialogues with the trees to develop a more intimate relationship with the place I currently call home. I reference childhood memories of growing up in New Zealand's temperate rainforest, an earlier home I knew well.

Each one of us intuitively works within a defined quadrant providing context for our work, which is highlighted by our different choices of media and processes.
We will be arriving at the Cre8ery Gallery, website here  to install our work together. We have never exhibited together before and not all of us has yet seen each other's work. I am really looking forward to searching for the commonality and duality in our individual bodies of work once it is up on Cre8ery's walls.  It is going to be so interesting to see how the multi-layered concept of duality will be expressed in this exhibition.
We do hope you can come to see the exhibition while it is on May 9th to May 21, 2019.
The Opening Reception will be on May 9 from 7 to 10pm. We four will be there and would love to meet you and talk to you about our work.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Articulation's Forest and Sea and the Place Between Artist Reception April 13th, 2019

Cedar Wind Drawing, detail

The Artist Reception for Articulation's 'Forest and Sea and the Place Between' exhibition at Portals Gallery, Duncan is on Saturday 13th from 3 to 5 pm.
Artists Wendy Klotz, Ingrid Lincoln, and Lesley Turner will be in attendance to talk about their work and they look forward to answering questions about the exhibition.

Tree Wind Drawings

My contribution to the exhibition and the Salish Sea biosphere story is a triptych of 3 drawings done be 3 different trees found in the Pacific Northwest coastal maritime forest.

Big-leaf Maple

Douglas-fir and Western Red Cedar
 By getting the trees to draw on a fabric I explored the connection between the air and the earth in the Salish Seas' biosphere.
I blogged about my process to make the first of these works here.
Understanding this place we call home is an ongoing area of interest for me and continues to be an area of focus in my work.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Articulation's Salish Sea Biosphere Study Sessions

Jellyfish in the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea.

Articulation has had 2 week-long study sessions exploring Vancouver Island's coastal areas. The first was in 2007 and based in  Duncan while the second was ten years later in 2017 and based in both Sidney and Tofino. All areas are within the Salish Sea biosphere boundary which is the overarching concept tying this study together.

Sunset on Chesterman Beach.

The Salish Sea biosphere is a vast area of interconnected habitats where living organisms are found -  in the geosphere of soil and rock, the hydrosphere of lakes, rivers, and oceans, and in the weather systems in the atmosphere.

Articulation members walking the trails on the west coast - Wendy Klotz, Leann Clifford, Amanda Onchulenko, Donna Clement.

Researching in Vancouver Island's Maritime Rainforests involved walking the trails, recording sensory experiences in a journal, taking photographs of both minute details and the soaring grandeur of ancient trees, and reading both fiction and nonfiction with forest settings.

Lunch break while looking out to the sea.

Articulation members experience the same visual stimuli and discuss what they find and see during the week together.

Leann Clifford ready to go look for whales.

Watching the sunset from the beach.

Donna Clement explores mud flats while the tide is in.

Leann Clifford and Ingrid Lincoln and jellyfish.

Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is an ideal place to learn about local sea life.

Taking the ferry out to Sidney Spit. Amanda Onchulenko, Leann Clifford, Ingrid Lincoln, Donna Clement.

After a shared experience spent exploring an area and keeping the broad concept in mind, Articulation members go back to their individual studios to produce bodies of work that reflect their individual responses their experiences. It is always a treat when the resulting work is exhibited to see how each artist visually translates their particular area of interest.

For more about Articulation's Salish Sea project check out Articulation's website and blog here and here.
Also, Donna Clement's blog here

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

WAR: A Personal Response, Body of Work, 'Friend or Foe'

Friend or Foe
linen, cotton, wood, metal; laundering, hand stitching, painting, installation

Domestic teatowels made of linen or cotton have been surprisingly uniform in size over the last ninety plus years. Perhaps they are the width of a household table loom.

Previously they were all woven in the home now they are mostly machine woven and printed. The majority of printed teatowel themes are limited, remarkably, to four subjects: a prayer, an uplifting saying, a calendar or a momemto of place for the emigrant or tourist.
For this work, I chose two different linen tea towels featuring the same prayer - 'Bless this house Oh Lord we pray. Make it safe by night and day.' They also have calendars for different years in the 1970s. 
I added the silhouettes of two WWII planes, one the Allies' Avro Lancaster and the other the Reich's Heinkel HE 177. The bomber planes look as though they are zeroing in on the houses, highlighting the significance of the prayer.

Military | WWII | Aircraft | Friend or Foe by Silhouette: UK, US, Germany, Japan
Plane spotting was a skill of memory and fast recognition developed by psychologists during the war once they realised fast and accurate recognition of airborne planes saved lives. They found rather than doing a laborious detailed analysis other parts of the brain could be used for rapid assessment of the shape, engine sound, and markings of planes overhead. Sheets of plane silhouettes were issued to military personnel for plane spotting training and members of the public were encouraged to learn them as well.

A short video to show the distinctive sound and shape of the Lancaster. Sorry about the ad.

With three of Florence's sons in the airforce, I image it became a household game to be the first to correctly identify a plane overhead. 

I also imagine Florence outside hanging out her washing and hearing a plane. She would search the skies to identify it as a friend or foe. Was it one of her sons in-training taking the chance to fly over his home and say hi to his mother with a dip of the plane's wing or was it an enemy plane, a scout or the beginning of an enemy invasion?
The routine domestic task of hanging out laundry was yet another trauma trigger capable of switching Florence's emotions to a surge of joy stimulated by the mother-child bond and just as quickly her emotions could plunge downward in fear. She would become exhausted by the repeated involuntary acute stress response known as fight or flight.

I changed the dates to 1943 and 1944, the years Florence's oldest son flew Lancaster bombers.

This is the work's story I told in the Sidney exhibition booklet
'Plane spotting was an activity the War Office encouraged the public to practice. War psychologists knew that when the skills of memory and fast recognition developed in the civilian population it saved lives. Recognition posters were issued to aid in aircraft identification. I can imagine Florence's four sons making a game of plane spotting, and she too learned the skill. When she heard a plane while at her clothesline she would say a silent prayer asking God to protect her three sons in the airforce. Then her mind with flip with fear at the possibility of it being an enemy plane and the beginning of an invasion. It was only after researching this work that I realised the significance of my father's enjoyment in taking his family to airfields for picnics. He had continued to hone his plane spotting skills and taught his children to recognise planes by engine sound and silhouette.'