Sunday, January 21, 2018

New project in development, Part 1

This past fall I discovered McGill University's Maude Abbott Medical Museum, a collection that came to be organized around the turn of the 20th century. It is named for Dr. Maude Abbott, who was appointed curator in 1899, though some of the specimens date back to 1822.

One of the projects of the museum is to explore the intersection of art and medical science, and so I approached the museum director, Dr. Richard Fraser, about the possibility of our six-member textile art group, Text'art, undertaking to make an exhibit inspired by the collection. The idea was embraced by all the participants and the show is scheduled to open in mid-May this year.

At our preliminary meeting, the museum was undergoing renovations, but we were still able to see some material from the collection. One of the items that caught my eye was this book illustration on display in a vitrine.

Something about the way the instruments all lined up appealed to me, with their various shapes a contrast of curved and straight. A few days later I saw this cover of a hardware catalog and considered the possibilities.

On a subsequent visit, I took photos of surgical instruments in the collection. Here are a few:

photo from surgical textbook




scissors, needle drivers


Other members of the group have chosen other topics, including medicinal plants, the human spine, and the jars and bottles holding the "wet specimens".

Here are some of the decisions involved in putting the show together:
  • Where will the work be displayed?
  • How much wall space is available?
  • What hanging hardware will be used?
  • Should there be some consistency between the individual pieces? (We've decided we will all work in a 36 x 24 format, and mount our work on gallery-style canvas.)
Because a printed booklet will be produced by the museum to accompany the show, we must provide
  • individual biographies
  • individual artist statements
  • a history of the group
  • an artist statement and title for the project
  • a group photo
  • photos of the individual artists
  • photos of the individual pieces, with their titles
Written material will be translated into French, and all must be submitted by April 1.

The vitrine cases and tables in the display space will be filled with items from the collection that inspired our individual pieces. Dr. Fraser and his assistant, Joan O'Malley, will be responsible for this, working with the staff at the William Osler Library, where the work will be displayed.

In an upcoming post I will explore some of the techniques I am considering for my piece.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mitchell and Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation

Jean-Paul Riopelle, La Forét Ardent, 1955

Just before it closed, on January 7, I had a chance to visit an excellent exhibition at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec (otherwise known as the MNBAQ.) You can read about the exhibit here.

Joan Mitchell, Untitled, 1961

The good news is that the show, titled "Nothing in Moderation", will now travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario, and is scheduled to open February 17.

What makes the show so interesting is the juxtaposition of work by the two artists. Both could be called Abstract Expressionists. Both often worked on a large scale. Both experimented with media and technique. And because they were involved in a personal relationship over a long period of time, both shared similar influences and similar themes, and inspired each other.

Jean-Paul Riopelle, Saint-Anthon, 1954

Generally speaking, Jean-Paul Riopelle preferred an impasto technique, slapping on great quantities of oil paint, modelling it with a palette knife.  His work has been compared to mosaic and stained glass. The patterning of his paint strokes were characteristically crystalline, and his palette was bold, favouring black, white and the primaries. Joan Mitchell's paint strokes were more lyrical, curving and spritely, made with thinned paint. Her palette was softer, her range of colour wider.

Joan Mitchell, La Fontaine, 1957

It could be said that each of their palettes was influenced by their favoured landscapes. In later years, after their romantic relationship ended, Riopelle returned to the Laurentians, and its rustic, vigorous landscape was reflected in his bold colour choices and the coarse, raw nature of his palette knife application.

Mitchell's later years were spent in the pastoral town of Vétheuil, just west of Paris and on the Seine. She was influenced by the tamer nature of her surroundings; her garden and its trees were important to her.

Joan Mitchell, Girolata, 1964
Jean-Paul Riopelle, Large Triptych, 1964

The show includes biographical timelines for both artists, and films and photos of them as individuals and as a couple. An excellent exhibition, well worth seeing.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Old Brewery Mission, Montreal

Mission accomplished! Here are some photos of my latest series, installed on the lovely old brick walls of the Old Brewery Mission.

Having the twelve pieces hung together makes a strong impact, and the lighting is favourable too. The overall effect is warm, bold and bright.

Many of the clients came by during the installation and added their words of appreciation.

The space is managed by artists Susan Porter and Karen Hosker. For more information about Galerie Carlos, please visit the web page.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Thirteenth in New Series: An Irrefutable Truth

Yes! I've completed enough pieces in my new series to have a show of twelve, each measuring 24 x 24. All the works have been treated with Fabric Shield to protect them from sunlight and fading.

Will now catch my breath and make some time to catch up on the more mundane tasks of everyday life, and some reading, and of course researching the next project. And yes, will be sure to post a photo of the series in situ.

tentatively titled: An Irrefutable Truth

There is something "mid-century modern"  about these shapes, don't you think? The background is actually a Granny Smith green, a favourite colour of mine. The magenta is a perfect complement to it. The hand-dyed linen has a nicely mottled surface, for all three colours.

The upper right quadrant has a semi-circular shape defined by machine stitching in parallel lines, using variegated thread. Detail below.

detail, An Irrefutable Truth

Or.... What do you think of orienting it like this? And would it need a new title? Such As It Is? In All Probability?

An Irrefutable Truth, rotated?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Twelfth in New Series: Neither Here nor There

This 24 x 24 piece is made of hand-dyed linen, pieced, with couched threads and hand-stitching.

Tentatively titled Neither Here nor There

The blue background has a lovely mottled look. The green and grey shapes also have some mottling, though because they are smaller the variation in colouring is not as evident.

Neither Here nor There, detail

Now, you'd think that since I need twelve pieces for my upcoming show, that I would be able to take a break at this point. But no. One of my earliest pieces is not available, as it was accepted into the Stewart Hall rental collection. One more addition to the series is needed by January 10.

And so, back to work....

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Eleventh in New Series: Something from Nothing

These are shapes that I first worked with in my series of acrylic collages, 10 x 10.

Tentatively titled: Something from Nothing

This series, 24 x 24, is made of hand-dyed linen, pieced, with decorative stitching. In this case, the decorative stitching was done by machine with perle cotton embroidery thread and creates an illusion of transparency and even 3-dimensionality for the ovoid shape on the right.

I like the way the flat colours of fuchsia, coral and orange contrast with the mottled colouration of the background, seen better in the detail shot below.

Something from Nothing, detail