Archive for the ‘sculpture’ Category

Up and Coming, Kathleen McGiveron

November 6, 2011

Big Charmers, Kathleen McGiveron, Ceramic Sculpture, approx 12 inches high

At the Fort Gallery in Fort Langley, B.C., we have several new young artists who have joined our collective. In the current exhibition running to November 13th,  Kathleen McGiveron is showing a  witty collection of  ceramic figurines.  Each one is a poke at pop culture – pop singers, pop food, mass culture and the mainstream figurine. The detail above is from the sculpture named Big Charmers and is patterned with a Nestle’s symbol.

In her artist statement, she refers to Red Rose Tea “Wade” figurines as an idea source. I’m not familiar with  those, but I am with the Lladro and Nao figurines which also display a similar shiny glaze over muted colours and a simplified form. Kathleen’s figures are small animals – a squirrel, a rat, a bird. So far, all of the figures are hand made, one-off sculptures, except the bird series which is reproduced by a casting method with a hand-built and unique base. All of them are much larger than the tea-box “prizes” that inspire them.  Each sculpture is painted differently and each includes some iconic logo as part of the imagery.  She contrasts traditional  – what you see from a distance – with pop culture decals such as- Macdonald’s Golden Arches symbol repeated as an understated decoration; or the Mac Apple.

Shutter Shades, Kathleen McGiveron, Ceramic sculpture, approx 12 inches high

She has these decals prepared especially for her and then applies them one by one – the surfaces are curved, three-dimensional,  so it’s impossible simply to lay them down on the clay’s first layer of glazing.

She says, “It is essential that humour and irony exists within my work and that the piece is whimsical. I am interested in exploring a dialogue between the mass produced, mainstream figurine and the mass, mainstream icon. I am fascinated with the human obsession with celebrities and mass media and how certain moments and images can define a person or company. My intent is to explore this absurd obsession and lifestyle, and to bring light to current mainstream figures through my sculptures

Take a look at her web site at

Golden Arches, Kathleen McGiveron, Ceramic Sculpture, approx 12 inch high

On this chipmunkl sculpture, the animal holds a nut in its paws, and the nut is covered with Macdonalds Golden Arches logos.

Jaegerbombs Kathleen McGiveron, Ceramic Sculpture, Approx 12 inches high.

There is a bit of a problem with the exhibition as a whole. There is a group show of paintings going on at the same time and the painting component is quite distracting from Kathleen’s calm and unified work.

The group show of paintings is a memorial to Stu Richardson, a former  college instructor and mentor to a group of artists who gathered at Bernie’s Barn to paint together.  When Richardson passed away, his wife puzzled over what to do with his unfinished paintings. In collaboration with the artists in the Bernie’s Barn group, she gave the unfinished works to “finish” , each according to their creative inspiration. Each artist took a few of the paintings. Using Stu Richardson’s resource materials (photos and travel sketches) they then applied their own technique to complete the work.

There is a range of styles in the resulting work and the unity in this work only comes from the fact that the compositions were all started by Richardon. All are representational, many of boats, several are landscapes and a few are genre paintings of people in situ.

Four of Richardson’s finished works are on display, showing his mastery of the medium both technically and compositionally . “Frost Trees“, below is my favorite from the show because it glows with light.

Frost Trees, Stu Richardson, approx 24 x 30 inches, acrylic on canvas

and I quite enjoyed this one also for it’s detail, the thoughtful content and the beautiful handling of foreground and distance in complete harmony:

Stu Richardson, acrylic on canvas, approx 24 x 30 inches, acrylic on canvas

The Fort Gallery is at 9048 Glover Road, Fort Langley, B.C. open Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.


Sculptor Kent Laforme

May 22, 2010

In a spacious garden near Victoria, sits  a collection of broken-looking columns of marble and scattered chunks of stone. If I focus on this littering of  raw rock, I can believe myself in Italy, in a sculptor’s yard  – maybe Brancusi’s , Michelangelo’s or  Jean Arp’s.

Some marble pieces have been shaped and molded to a nascent forms, waiting for the remainder of the object to transform. Other blocks of marble have not been touched, simple monoliths for future projects. The finished pieces are sitting in the studio building across the way; or like the meditating figure in the garden, holding court over a calming garden pond.

Surrounding this yard of stone is a vast lawn and across from it, a lovely architect designed home set into a hill  and banked, further back by a sheltering grove of trees.

It’s been a busy time for me. I was away for a week in Victoria, B.C. on a long overdue visit to friends.

One of my friends there is a patron of the Arts. She seeks out upcoming artists and likes to give them a boost. Her house is a treat, filled with the treasures that she has found along the way.

While she was teaching, she met Kent Laforme’s aunt, and when the aunt passed away, she became close friends with her sister. In this way, she met Kent and became familiar with his work. There are a few of his marble pieces to be discovered in my friend Ruth’s large and beautiful country garden including a swan and an elephant, both shaped with an abstracted vision akin to Brancusi whose minimalist work Kent admires and has studied in depth.

We were invited to come see his work. Unfortunately, our timing did not coincide and I did not meet the artist himself. Nevertheless, his mother was happy to show her son’s achievements and we were able to have a good look in the sculpture workshop, the show room and throughout the house.

The house is built on a post and beam style with wide open galleries and great places to show large works of art. Everyone in the family seems to be involved in creating works of art, including Diana who, under tutelage, has done some stunning abstract works.

After commencing his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and DesignKent in 1991,  Laforme won a year’s scholarship in sculpture to Pietrasanta, Italy in 1993 where he promptly went, leaving everything behind, not knowing a word of Italian, and with no place planned for him to stay. He managed to find his way, stay for three years and come away from his experience a much-changed, mature sculptor.

One of his important projects there was to carve a crocodile. In creating this piece, he was tasked to use every different cut that is practiced by sculptors. It’s like an apprenticeship piece where the whole gamut of technique needs to be displayed.

He has a penchant for simplicity of form. He has created several portraits including an oriental head reminiscent of the Buddha, and his mastery there is evident.

But realism and detail are not the backbone of Laforme’s current practice. He has recently created a series where he expresses more modern constructs, using, for example, a tee-shirt cast over a bottle to develop an model for reference. The series of work that he created in this genre were the subject of an exhibition in a major Vancouver commercial fine-art gallery recently.

Here, then, is a gifted sculptor, capable of a wide range of styles and capabilities in marble and other stones.  He has made his mark early in his career. It will be interesting to see him develop and find his personal stamp in the long run.

As this is not a medium in which I feel qualified to comment, I will let you enjoy my photos from the afternoon – not only his finished sculptures but the lovely play of light and shadow on the chunks of stone waiting their turn for Kent Laforme’s chisel and hammer.

Ruth’s elephant

Abstract forms

The Hardware show

March 8, 2009


An exciting show opened at The Fort Gallery  in Fort Langley, B.C. this evening. I’ve been waiting for this one since it touches one of my favourite subjects – hardware.

The Fort Gallery is run as an artist’s collective and this one is rather exciting. Every show I’ve seen there is good and some are simply outstanding. Each member of the collective gets to have a solo show once a year. A few times a year, there are group shows and tonight’s was one of those.

Each artist was asked to buy $40 dollars or less in a a hardware store and then create something to go on the walls for this show. There are mostly painters in this group, so it took each one of them out of his or her comfort zone not only in subject matter, but in tools and materials as well.

Beside each creation was a little slot where the hardware bill, proof of purchase, was tucked.

The images that follow will show you just how creative this group is. There is a wide variety of material choice and an equally broad result in stylistic form, as the photos that follow will attest:

In the bas relief picture up above, called “Joe the Butcher often had dreams of owning his own hardware store“, Diane Durand uses nuts of varying size and depth  set into plaster to create a pig.  This image has a strong textural quality established by the nuts  and the roughly trowelled plaster-like substance in which they are set. It’s not clear what the object represents above the pig, but it doesn’t matter; it’s what brings the composition into balance. I get a good laugh out of the piglet’s tail.


A fish out of water – JudyNygren

Still in a representational vein, Judy Nygren created this clever fish out of washers, screws, assorted fence screws, framing nails, colour paint swatches, pine board, fishing wire and wire. There is good craft in the assemblage of this bas-relief sculpture, a good use of colour and an imaginative way of metamorphosing hardware bits for scales and eyes. It’s not a humorous piece, per se, but I found myself laughing at the colour chips for scales and the completely successful use of materials to give an eerily tactile result.


Bag of light -Suzanne Northcott

Moving away from the strictly representational, Suzanne Northcott has assembled a lamp-like object with a welding wire, a bulb and paper bags cut into strips. It’s reminiscent of her nest series she did a few years ago both in paint and in large drawings.

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Nest – Doris Hutton Auxier

Continuing along  more abstractly, Doris Hutton Auxier has created nest from strips of automatic nail gun nails. She sets up an unnerving contrast of the the hard pointed steel to represent the normally soft downy interior of a nest. One has to wonder how long those four large “eggs” will last with those spikes for a bed.

Claire Moore created an Untitled flying figure of a woman that jutted out of the wall. It’s made of delicate soldering wire and was impossible to photograph well. A second one by Moore was entitled “It’s hard to find comfort when you are a prickly person” (you can just barely see the first delicate figure on the right-hand side of the photo below.


It’s hard to find comfort when you are a prickly person – Claire Moore

This mobile sculpture is about eight feet tall, suspended from the ceiling and strung into position with wires like a puppet. It’s made from Zap straps, foam insulation and hemp string. Several guests at the opening remarked that this was the best in show, but I had such a hard time deciding: there were so many excellent pieces.


Breach – Maggie Woycenko

Decidedly more abstract and reminiscent of the ‘Sixties is Maggie Woycenko‘s Breach made from linoleum tiles, screwhole plugs, shower curtain rings, paint and shoe polish.  I love this one. The surface has been rubbed with shoe polish to give it a rich surface texture. The composition is simple yet the screw-hole plugs bring interest to it, and at the centre, each central corner of the four tiles is raised up about two inches to expose a silver-coloured object that keeps the tiles up and open.


Home Sweet Home – Kate Bradford

You may remember Kate Bradford from an earlier post. She did small exquisite metal sculptures. Home Sweet Home is much more complicated by comparison. Here she uses Plaster of Paris, copper pipe, roofing screws, cedar shims, two mouse traps, electrical wire, steel brackets, twine, spray paint and bronze paint.

In a similar vein, Maggie Woycenko’s What is True vies with Bradford’s sculpture for the highest number of materials used. It’s made with photo album, plumb bob, saw blade, metal strapping, metal plates, chain, nails, locks, wire, paint and shoe polish. The lighting, I might add, brings extra shadows to the imagery which I find delightful.


What is true – Maggie Woycenko

Woycenko’s What is true is constructed around a photo album with additions of a plumb bob, saw blade, metal strapping, metal plates, chain, nails, locks, wire, paint and shoe polish. The shadows created by the gallery lighting echo the shape of the object emphasizing its three-dimensionality.


Remnants of the Post  Handyman Era- Scott Gordon

Using plaster, plywood, wooden dowel and hardware, Scott Gordon assembled this bas relief sculpture. The title is mysterious. Is this what was left over from constructing a fence?

The composition is meditatively balanced; the dowels set high in the frame leave room for shadows to become part of the imagery play; and the dark to light ratio is good.


Displaced – Betty Spackman

It took twelve paint rags, five cans of paint, fifty clothes pegs and thread to fabricate this wall hanging and a lot of creative imagination.  In a theme and variation tour de force, Spackman uses two principle images – the clothes peg and a house – massing them in patterns or alone, operating the images as stencils on one hand and as a print stamp on the other. She switches the shapes from positives to negatives. The colours, variations on a khaki green ochre, the unbleached cotton white  and sepia, blend easily into the overall effect, not overtaking the details of the forms.


Good Idea  – Susan Falk

On a plywood cut-out shape of torso and head painted black, three energy efficient light bulbs glow like the curly  stuffing of exposed brain. Electrical wire and electrical caps provide the connection to the fixtures. It lights up with a brilliant idea.  The concept of this piece is great although I would have liked to see  a bit more attention made to  finishing.


Alice in Wonderland I, II and III – Terry Nurmi

These three intimate and thoughtful works  convey Nurmi’s  personal sense of colour, a subtle understanding of spatial relationships between objects with meditative results. These are pieces that can be comfortably lived with for a long time.

A few pieces were difficult to photograph to their advantage because they were in poor lighting situations for photography on an opening night. There was This and That, a Alexander Calder-like mobile in the front bay window of the gallery  by Judy Jones made of  green and red rope, copper wire, a light switch, reflector rods, nuts and bolts.  A lamp labeled, Life’s inside was made of doweling, lamp components and fishing wire. In Dennis Venema’s In my mind’s eye, a tripod holds a ABS plastic construct that looks like an old-fashioned camera complete with a black-out cloth, enhance with wax paper, rubber bands, and aluminim sheeting.

With twinkle lights and copper wire, Cathy Miller created a spiraling tube chandelier, calling it Copper wire gone haywire.

Lastly, Joanne Sheen made a large sketch book with pages of brown Kraft wrapping paper.  This too was difficult to photograph, especially since there were numerous images throughout.  Several had rubbings of metal objects – screws, washers and other hardware gizmos. Some incorporated sandpaper in collage with a charcoal or graphite  image. Each page  varied strongly from the preceding, evidencing an active imagination and a strong design sense.


Book – Joanne Sheen

A show like this is an inspiration to all artists. It’s a call to step outside our comfortable range and to really create – not just repeat past successes. It’s a reminder how fertile our imaginations really are. When corporations are seeking out new ideas, or even how to get their employees to think in a forward-minded way, they need to consult artists. Artists know how to make leaps in thought, to think sideways, not only to think outside of the box, but to leap out of that constraining box altogether. It is from this creative soup that new ideas come – some as brilliant and culture-quaking as Thomas Edison’s light bulb.

So if you are in the area, Fort Langley, B.C.,  and you like to be dazzled by excellent imagery, the Hardware Show runs at the Fort Gallery at 9048 Glover Street until the end of March, 2009.  It’s even worth an excursion from Vancouver to get out to see it!

Drawing with Robert Landry

November 24, 2008


Had I left five minutes earlier, I would not have been caught in the hail storm that tumbled out of a rapidly darkening sky.  The hail was followed by a gust of driving rain, pelting, melting the ice crystals on the tarmac. It pounded unmercifully as I packed the car with folding easel, drawing board, a few drawing supplies and my evening garb for the musical concert which came after the drawing workshop. I slammed down the trunk lid, lifted my coat jacket over my head and dashed for the drivers’ seat, then sat and waited until the squall had lost its fury.

It only took ten minutes, but when you don’t know that the force of nature is just teasing, it seems like it will go on forever.  “Ha, ha! Could’ve drowned you with all this if I wanted!” Mother nature seems to say, a little maliciously. But I’m just reminding you. You’d better be good. Remember Noah?”

So I turned on the wipers and drove down a perfectly slick, black road – black like dark evening – but it was early afternoon. The wipers flapping furiously at full speed just managed to provide a driving visibility. The traffic lights ahead shone in the pavement in long streaks of colour, red or green accordingly, but peppered, textured with lighter rain sparkles shooting back up from the road.

When I arrived at destination in the underground parking of the community centre, the rain suddenly stopped – I was inside, after all – and the wipers flapped frenetically with nothing to do until they grimaced with the wiper-on-dry-glass, nail-on-black-board grinding sound and I hastened to shut them off.

My destination was the 2-D studio on the third floor where Robert Landry, a sculptor from Detroit, Michigan was about to deliver a six hour drawing workshop. Kathleen Tonnesen, an artist and actress who lives in our community, organizes art events from time to time to bring established artists to our small community. She has high praises for Landry, so it became our privilege to meet him, discover his work and spend an afternoon being inspired by his drawing and teaching skills.


The participant group was a diverse one – several in the late teen, early twenties age group, a few in their mid adult years and four of us old geezers – active retirees ready to draw. Myself having previously taught, I was curious to see how he would bridge the years of experience sitting expectantly before him; and he did this effortlessly. Art is, after all, eternal, and the infectious quality of it knows no boundaries of age, race or gender. Those who get it are held by it for life.

Landry was a young student on an athletic scholarship when he discovered his affinity for art and sculpture. He studied under a classic Italian master, was mentored by him over a number of years as Landry worked for him and now he is a Master sculptor in his own right. In his home page message, he offers his guiding philosophy this way: ” Ultimately I strive for the point where the physical, the mental, and the emotional converge to project the life of the spirit through the beauty of human anatomy.”

His work is grounded in the Classic discipline of anatomy. He uses his highly developed technical skills, whether in drawing, painting or sculpture, to elicit images of life and beauty. In counter-reaction to the commercially advertised ideal, he seeks beauty in aging and emotive faces, in figures living real-life dramas and in events that challenge the human spirit.
One body of the sculptural work has roots in the manner of Rodin. The portraits and figures in this genre carry the imprint of his hands modelling clay, roughly, directly, energetically into anatomically readable forms. It’s realism with a deep dose of spirit. In a more recent mode, he has turned to semi abstraction. If you take the time to look, you will see that his underpinnings of classical anatomy are still there, but the forms are elongated, polished, shiny. The thumbprint may be gone in these, but the spirit has taken solid form, as if the body is less important now than pure spirit made visible.

robert-l-landry-addressing-the-public-bronze robert-l-landry-strength-of-perserverance-bronze

Addressing the Public; and Strength of Perserverance – two classic bronzes by Robert L. Landry

Immediately below, : The Joy of Selflessness by Robert L. Landry – polished bronze


In this workshop, he demonstrated how he takes a waxen clay mix carved into his desired figure, molds it in a plaster cast and prepares it for the lost wax process of casting in bronze. Then it was our turn to draw. We explored the anatomy of human face, following along in vine charcoal with his method to explain classical proportions. This was not new to me, so I did one to follow on and enjoy the process and then did a second on one fine paper that looked more like some of the psychological characters that I’ve been working on lately.

These drawings are ones I did in the workshop:

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Later on in the session, a live model posed and we had several stances to work on. I’ve not been figure drawing now for over seven years. I must say I was thoroughly rusty, but on the third try,  I got something quite reasonable, but it’s out of proportion and the legs – well, I don’t think anyone could walk on them.  It is good encouragement for me to get back at it. Life drawing is really the “scales”, the technical work-out for artists. I’d just rather not publish the result!

It was a long afternoon for me. I haven’t stood so long for such a long time that I packed up a little early and headed home. The storm had passed. The sky was opening wide and the last light of day was colouring the clouds with a faint warm grey that contrasted with the deep, deep blue of coming night. The streets were still slick with rain, but the sky was promising better weather for tomorrow; which is now today.

It’s brilliant outside my window. Carpe diem. I must go and seize the day –

I encourage you to take a look at Robert L. Landry’s his sculpture on his web-site at

And many thanks to Robert Landry for his willingness to share his vision, to teach and to spread the beauty of art.

Kate Bradford, Susan J. Falk

September 27, 2008

Fort Langley is a lively place on Friday nights. It was hard to find parking for the Fort Gallery which was our destination. It shines like a beacon when there is an opening on a fall evening. Once out of its protective circle of light, it’s deep black outside and difficult to navigate from car to gallery and later, back to the car.

Inside, the gallery is hopping with some of the elite of British Columbia’s artists and many relatively unknown but top notch visual artists – ceramists, painters, sculptors. This is a gallery that artists like to frequent for it’s friendly atmosphere, whether there is an opening on or not, and its high quality shows. The walls are painted a soft grey which is a perfect background to dramatically show off paintings. Art work doesn’t have to fight with a harsh white background.

This evening was the opening of a show for Kate Bradford and Susan J. Falk. For this exibition, Bradford showed ten small sculptures varying in height from six to ten inches high,  all a variation on a theme entitled Ridge. Each is a brushed aluminum block, some cubic, some in rectangular solid forms. Each one is incised or added to with variations. The main material is a pristine brushed aluminum with added metallic elements in copper, steel or brass. Where the  basic element in the design is severe, even austere, the additions , contrastingly, are irregular in form and somewhat frivolous in comparison. It’s a fascinating contrast. Given the base rectangular solid form they are begun with, they end up looking like very elegantly designed but quirkily, wrapped presents.

It’s very clear that Bradford knows her materials and lets them work for her.

Ridge, sculpture by Kate Bradford

Lighting is the key to making these sculptures realize their full potential.  In the sculpture pictured above, light comes from two directions and the small posts  weave shadows into each other, creating additional visual interest. The reflection and shadow cast by the block on its support, a uniformly black shelf, also adds interest.

These sculptures suit a minimalist context such as a classy office reception area or board room, or they would grace a refined urban home with sleek modern furniture. Kate Bradford’s attention to precision and simplicity is a strong point. Her variations on a theme demonstrate that her work fascinates her. She is not repeating her imagery but finding new visual joy in each separate piece.

Susan J Falk with one of her paintings, Arbutus Ridge, Oil on Canvas

On the surrounding walls, in great contrast to Bradford’s work, large canvases painted with liquefied oil paints depict arbutus trees in all their gracious fluidity. I was rather pleased with the warmth and liveliness of them. The imagery did not change materially from canvas to canvas, so it took an inspection of her web site to understand that, in this small gallery the viewer was too close up to appreciate that these canvases are meant to hang together in a huge architectural setting. They are all part of a same image – one large epic canvas. If you look at Falk’s website, you will see the work hung as a single work and it reads much better in a larger context.

There is high impact on meeting these canvases for the first time. Fresh oranges, reds, burnt Siennas and yellows combine to define the light and dark of the trees. A subtle and less demanding ground roots the large trunks on the overall image. Between the branches, there are shots of pure magenta and cerulean or manganese blue giving the canvases a good cool balance to the fiery branches above.

Everything is freely drawn. There is no hesitation in Falk’s brush strokes. Nothing is overworked and the paint stays fresh as if it were just painted and glowing. This artist has all the skills and verve in her technical abilities to fill her paintings with the mood and the feel of these giant orange-barked arbutus trees.

Viewed as a whole, this month’s exhibition brings two completely contrasting artists successfully together. The expressionist feel of Falk’s paintings opposes the clean lined minimalism of Bradford’s scultures. The resulting effect was a balanced and interesting show. It’s on until October 5th.

If you are in the vicinity of Fort Langley, visit The Fort Gallery, at 9048 Glover Road; and if you have time to stroll through the town, you will be delighted by the pioneer atmosphere that has been maintained on the main street. There are lots of coffee shops and some excellent places to stop for lunch or have a fine dinner


An interview by Roni Haggerty  on Susan J. Falk’ website is located at

Kate Bradford has yet to create a page and I was unable to find anything about her, to date, on the Web.

Nature versus Art

August 2, 2008

Whenever I can catch Recreating Eden, a television program series celebrating great gardens, landscaping architecture and gardening, I do. This morning whilst looking for a bit of news which I have neglected for the last few days, it being so often all the same – a few stabbings, a bit of war bombings, the latest exposure of corporate fraud or greed and some in-your-face commiseration with the family of some tragic car accident victim – I found that Recreating Eden was on at this early hour.

I got caught up in the world of Charles Jenks and his creations – marriages of science, art and gardens. The gardens are very formal, very obviously constructed and grandiose in size and style. It’s a curious mix, incorporating representations of major recent scientific discoveries into a man-manipulated nature and a wild bit of planned garden plantings.

Jenks described four categories or levels of natural environments: wild untouched nature;hunter/gatherer man-altered nature (fields, husbanded forests, etc); gardens; and planned landscaped environments with the marriage of art, science and landscape.

I found his work fascinating, awe-inspiring and emotionally meaningful, not to mention the cerebral underpinnings that have triggered his design concepts.

Thinking of this and recent conversations on the validity or appropriateness or worth of art-altered nature, i had to dig a little deeper into my thought processes. Does one’s approval of “environmental” art, landscape art or architecture depend on how much one likes it?

Jenks’ work is certainly disruptive of the natural environment; but I like it. Mind you, I would have been mightily upset if he had needed to destroy a forest to create his built environment. I presume, though, that he was starting with an environment that had already been altered centuries before by man’s hand.

Is it only when we have something that is shocking in the environmental scape that it becomes objectionable? If you’ve been following this tennis match blogging between Art is Eternal (in defense of some thoughts and artworks of an experimental bent) and, (in defense of Nature as it is), then perhaps you have some comments to add.

I have no answers, I realize.
Forestrat referred to an artwork installation that included brightly coloured plastic forms of rats hanging from the trees in a natural environment. I’m sure I would find that shocking but it would make me wonder what the artist was trying to say and I might look further into it. I would also hope that the display was temporary, as many art installations are. I think it would distress me if it were left permanently.

And yet, the Inushuk stone piles of the Innuit – they seem almost mystical to see in the rocky, snowy environment in which they were created. Having them there permanently does not offend me aesthetically and it’s doing no damage to it’s natural surroundings.

On the other hand, when I see one of these Inushuk plunk in the middle of a city, I shake my head. They jar with the cityscape. I also object to the ones made in Inushuk workshops on municipal beach edges surrounded by bikini clad bathers. They are equally jarring when constructed by Ferry Terminals. They don’t fit. It would be more contextually apt to construct a sandcastle! If these misplaced Inushuk topple back into their stony components on the ground, I’d be happy.

So is our appreciation of things based on our liking of things? Or is there more to it than “I don’t know anything about art, but I know what I like”.

Can we apply some criteria to our judgment, or if you like, our appreciation, of new forms of art work?

Who gets to judge whether or not an installation can stay in a natural environment or not? Does it depend on who owns it? For example, if one owns large fields and chooses to create a maze or a crop circle, is there any regulation that would prevent a person from doing that? But if it was in the middle of a state or national park, obviously someone in the park administration would have to evaluate and pronounce on one’s right to proceed with a similar alteration of the landscape.

Is it alright if it doesn’t permanently damage the landscape? If it’s a pick up and go kind of work (like filling a rock pool with a vibrant and clashing red colour or like Christo’s wrapped environments that get unwrapped at the end of the day with nothing damaged in the end)? Many of the installations are temporary with the only lasting record being photographs once an installation has been set up.

As I keep thinking about this idea, I keep coming up with more questions than answers.

Is anyone listening out there? Do you have some wonderful examples of installations in nature that you think should be left there permanently? Or ones that you think are there to stay that you’d like to tear down in the middle of the night when no one is looking?


July 16, 2008

I’ve been away from the act of creation for some long time now, fault of many things. My house is not in order and without that, I find it impossible to tackle new works of art creatively.

An invitation arrived in my e-mail this morning from a fellow blogger who, it seems, is having an exhibition of his work.

Now, I haven’t been blogging nor reading blogs either, so I thought I would stroll through his posts and refresh my acquaintance with his work. I found this lively one on sculpture where a professor has taken his students out onto a farm area and had the students create installation type work within the landscape using materials from the landscape or inspired by it. The sheer inventiveness of the art is stunning.

It always amazes me that, given the same instructions and limited by the same parameters of materials and  site, each individual will come up with astoundingly different imagery. “Bravo!” I say. This is what art is meant to be.

Here’s the site address: