lenten presence

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Lent ( the 40 days before Easter) is traditionally a time in which we are to consider our vulnerability and fallibility as human beings. I was asked to contribute to a small booklet of Lenten reflections which is edited by the Rev. Meagan Crosby Shearer who is priest to the Emmaus Community and St Matthias Anglican Church in Victoria BC, Canada. I was asked to share a reflection on three ancient texts that are readings for March 29th in Lent. Hosea14:1–9; Psalm 81; Mark 12:28–34

Here is my response:

God’s love is not only for the perfect, for the unblemished, the strong; it is also for the unfaithful, the complaining, the weak and the wayward. God’s love tests, and even as enemies surround us,  love holds all of it- the dust, the dark, the songs, the cries, the joy, the sorrow.

The art I am currently making features  roses expressively drawn in ink. My recent work has become a sort of testimony to  my negotiating life with a disability – a complex form of PTSD.  There are many times when I wish I could be free of this complication, more free to use my gifts so I might be more successful in life professionally and relationally. But the irony is I would not be facing pain if I did not love. The reality is, that for all of us, life to some degree or another is a mixed bag of hurt and happiness, freedom and burden and for us to try and separate our experience into the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful leaves us outside of what love is supposed to do: hold our earthly experience tenderly and boldly so that life is complete.

This picture illustrates the swirl, confusion and beauty in which we humans find ourselves within our experience.  I chose this picture because I can see in it the roots, branches, and flower of God’s promise of healing in Hosea 14: 4-8.  Sometimes the picture could be a watermark of a tear in the dust; or a tree pushing upwards even though twisted and hindered; or roots deep in the ground. Light is present, sometimes brightly sometimes murkily, but from within the dark there emerges the perennial symbol of the presence of love.

words and pictures

“the complex relationship between ethics and aesthetics” 30×22″ 2015

Having had my so much of my world view informed by listening to Australia’s public broadcaster, the ABC, I cannot say how much it means to have a written piece published in the Religion and Ethics Report. The article Art and the Nature of Good and Evil  is an expansion of a talk I originally gave in concert with my first solo exhibition The Other Side of War.

 

show me your face

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Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come…..
My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hiding places on the mountainside,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.

For a booklet of meditations for Advent, I was asked to respond to the text (Song of Songs 2:8–14 ) Even though not a typical interpretation, the roses represent the sometimes invisible yet persistent presence of love, and when reading the scripture in the context of my art I am reminded of Advent’s longing for light in the darkness and that the bringer of light appears on earth as a child.

a complex grief

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After laying aside my curatorial work with the Stairwell Gallery, my mind has turned to my own work as a priority. But as I approach it I notice that as well as a sense of need and desire to make art, there is a deep hesitation.

To overcome that reticence, I decided to keep my art practice simple. I have hand torn small squares of water colour paper as my support, and ink as my medium. As my reference I have  pictures of roses from the neighbourhoods I spend my days in. I thought: I will just get myself started with small roses and go from there.

But even with this simplicity, I notice my reluctance and mood deepen; and at the same time I notice that I am soothed somehow by making roses, and that I really don’t want to be making anything else but these small gestural pieces.

Then I began seeing them as plumes of bombs as seen from above. And sometimes they look like glimpses of landscape seen from the air through a break in the clouds. I also imagine them as broken hearts or voices.  And sometimes, thanks to the sheen of the ink, they look wet, and the roses become small pools of tears.

This morning I understood that my reluctance to engage with and the desire to do my work both come from the same place- from grief.  And so I will continue with these roses as they seem to be giving symbol and solace  to the many layers of sadness I feel:  for my own childhood, for the loss of my family; for what I learned of war and holocaust when I was little, for what I have learned of these as a woman; for mothers and children lost under bombs; for creatures and our world suffering under the weight of greed; for our collective past from which we  have learnt so little, and for our present in which so many of us feel helpless.

this tender earth

2Revised Poster for This Tender Earth -page-1(1)This Tender Earth is my last show as curator for the Stairwell Gallery for the foreseeable future. It has become too hard to keep up with the work of curating and give my own art the attention it needs; as well, the gallery  needs more energy than I am able to provide at this time.  I feel terribly sad about this decision and wish I had the time and energy to do it all. I am so thankful to St Philip Anglican Church for allowing contemporary art into sacred space, and am particularly grateful to the Rector, Christopher Page who has supported my work as curator and for his enthusiasm for the art that has been shown.
The exhibition will continue until the afternoon of November 16th and the gallery is generally open from 9 30 – 1 pm Monday to Thursday . Please call ahead though to ensure the church is staffed. (250) 592-6823 Stairwell Gallery, 2928 Eastdowne Rd at St Philip Anglican Church.

art for you

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Vancouver Island School of Art asked artists to donate a work for their fundraiser “Art For You” held at the beginning of May 2018
This is the piece I made specifically for the event.
“Of Things Hoped For” 12 by 8 inches. Collage, ink, paper, gesso on wood panel.

featured

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Grateful for the opportunity to talk about my art in the latest VISA Newsletter! Although I have not had the time for courses since Advanced Drawing, I have taken workshops which are a rewarding way to keep learning while working full time. Follow this link to the newsletter in which it is featured with an interesting article on how to look at art. The newsletter is well worth subscribing to.

poster

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I am honoured to have my work in an exhibition at the Slide Room Gallery, 2549 Quadra str, Victoria BC, Canada; opening on February 16th at 6pm.
Learn more via the Facebook event page or Slide Room Gallery website.

a poem and a painting

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At various stages of my painting’s evolution, different genres have suggested themselves- landscape, figurative, abstract, floral- and approaching resolution the painting, rather than having become one or the other, remains “all of the above.”
The other day on Facebook I came upon an excerpt of a TS Eliot poem and as I read, I felt it to be a description of the themes that are on my mind as I attend to my new work, particularly of this painting.  It is the poem Burnt Norton, one of the suite “The Four Quartets.”
Here are a few excerpts:

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
                              But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
………………………………………………..

The trilling wire in the blood
Sings below inveterate scars
Appeasing long forgotten wars.
…………………………………………………

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
………………………………………………….

And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.

The whole poem can be read here.

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