France Grice, Feature Artist

by Mary Lou Devine

France Grice Photo - Garden ArtDriving up to our next artist’s home/studio, I was struck by the beautiful colours, both in her front yard and on her door, where there is a beautiful glass panel which welcomes visitors to her world.  I was further impressed by the interior of the house which is artfully decorated and incorporates a number of both her and others’ works.   As a long time member of the National Capital Network of Sculptors and its former president, it was a pleasure to interview her.

France Grice is a glass artist of a type which is rarely seen in the Ottawa area.  She has taken the art of glass fusion beyond what is typically found at art shows and her pieces are a marvel to see and experience.

france grice photo -headshotFrance came to Montreal, Canada from France in 1966 to start a new life.  She stayed in Montreal for a year, then headed to Toronto to learn English.  She returned to Montreal, then moved to Nova Scotia before finally settling in Ottawa in 1972.  She is still in the home she purchased at that time and has created a fully equipped glass studio in her basement.  She is surrounded by beauty, both inside and outside of her home.  Her backyard surely provides inspiration as it is deep and masterfully planted.  There is a calm-inducing pond within eyesight and the beauty extends the full length of the property.  The vibrant fall colours that were evident when I visited would, I am sure, pale in comparison to the yard when seen in its full summer glory.  France has created this beauty, this “safe place” which allows her to contemplate life and to create her extraordinary pieces.

Her road to full time artist was peppered with various occupations, including Interior Designer, and working at the National Gallery, where she was involved with the Canadian Gallery, preparing for the move of the artwork to its present location and assisting the curator with installing those works, including the silver collection and the Group of Seven paintings, in the new building.

As many of us have in our various chosen mediums, France got her start in glass after being introduced to it by a friend who was working as a contemporary glass artist in Nancy, France.  At the turn of the 20th century, Nancy was a major center of the Art Nouveau movement and is known for its museums which house, among other pieces of art, the works of glass artists Émile Gallé, Jean Daum and his sons, August and Antonin, who founded a crystal studio and manufacturing operation which still exists to this day.

Grice says tha when she started working with glass in the mid 1990’s, there were virtually no artists offering classes as there are now.  So, she taught herself – through books (which were also very limited) and experimentation.  She bought herself a 24” diameter kiln with a pyrometer (a type of remote-sensing thermometer used to measure the temperature of a surface) and started experimenting.  In her early days, she used a fair amount of float (sheet) glass and produced functional pieces such as platters, candle holders, etc.  Because of her interior design work, she also created and produced other functional and artistic pieces such as sinks, decorative panels and lighting fixtures.  As a result of her other passion, which is gardening, she was naturally drawn to making items for an outdoor setting and her yard and others’ were soon populated with beautiful bird baths, outdoor panels and exterior lighting.

France Grice Photo - Large_Apple_tree-740x1112On her journey towards expanding her knowledge and experience in working with glass, Grice took a class in påte de verre, or glass casting, under the direction of Donald Robertson in Montreal.  As often happens, she was hooked on this new technique but then realized that she had to learn how to sculpt.  This led to attendance at the Ottawa School of Art where she took both clay modelling and mold making classes with Dawn Dale and David Clendening, respectively.  She now works in both figurative glass casting, which is quite a complex process, and in glass fusing whereby she creates some truly unique and fantastic pieces.  Her tree series is one of these.  Grice refers to these as tree spirits as they are always done in clear glass.  Of particular beauty is a piece which I viewed at her home which consists of a single apple tree, its branches spread and leaves artfully represented, with a ladder leaning against it in hopes of the climber being able to reach the single red apple which dangles there, ripe for the picking.

France Grice Photo - Buck_SMALLjpg1-740x969Her figurative work is mainly an organic process, coming from her subconscious or distant memories.  When she begins her process, she knows that it will be male or female, sitting or standing, but not much more than that.  It is an evolutionary process which develops during the creative period.  I saw a number of fantastic pieces at her home, some of which cause one to wonder how she has managed to do what she has done.  An example is a figure which is encased in glass, with each side of the body protruding from each side of the glass.  Last year she started a series called “hominus Animalibus” wherein she has produced a number of anthromorphic pieces, with more to come – perhaps a ram, maybe a horse…we look forward to seeing what will emerge.

While in the past she has designed frames and bases in metal, she has not experimented much with other media as she has been fully concentrated on developing and perfecting her glass processes.  However, she has recently started experimenting with polymer clay, with a view to finding ways to incorporate glass into that process.  She says that this is just starting to morph.  Regardless, while visiting her home studio, I was quite impressed with a raven perched on a glass stand and a turtle sprouting glass flowers from its shell, both of which had recently been completed and which were on view as pieces of art.  I can’t wait until the metamorphosis has been fully completed as I know that we can expect to see more and different ways in which Grice will surprise us with her glass works.

As with many of the other artists whom I have interviewed, France is most excited by the birth of new ideas, even if they don’t always work.  She finds that this aspect of the work gets the creative juices flowing.  She is less enamoured with the uncertainty which comes with custom work for interiors.  It is always a question as to whether the client will like the final product and if it meets their idea of what was contemplated.  And, of course, the process of measuring, and measuring again to make sure that the piece will fit within the space for which it is intended.

Her studio is divided into two distinct areas – the “clean” studio and the “messy” studio.  The first is used mostly for fusing preparation, cutting and assembling the glass.  In the “messy” studio (which really isn’t that messy at all, in my opinion), she makes her rubber molds, steams the wax and makes refractory molds, all of which is part of her processes.  Her kilns (she has two) are also located in this area.  I had the privilege of peeking into one of them to see a beautiful blue tree currently in the process of being prepared for fusion.  In the summer, as it is too hot to fire the kiln, she occupies herself with producing the original clay figures which will eventually be replicated in glass or foregoes working with her glass process completely, as she finds herself immersed in tending to her extensive gardens.

When asked where she could see her work going in the future, Grice replied that, while she started her glass journey designing functional design pieces, over time things have evolved, resulting in a more artistic dialogue with an inner voice taking place, a dialogue which has not yet quieted.

Unlike when she started working with glass, there are now a number of classes in the Ottawa area teaching the fused glass process.  However, there are not many which offer classes in glass casting.  She offers such classes at her home studio, for both beginner and intermediate casters.  Those interested can view her beautiful creations and obtain more information on her workshops through her website at http://www.francegrice.com.

Grice’s work can be seen at The Westend Gallery Ltd. In both Victoria, BC and Edmonton, Alta.  Closer to home, you will be able to see some of her tree work at the Baz’Art at the Shenkman Centre in November.

 

 

 

 

 

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OPENING NIGHT at Sculpture EXPO

It’s finally here!

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Come early – we have a surprise guest joining us!

Lansdowne Park in the Horticulture Building

Doors Open at 5:00pm

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Learn How to Carve a SoapStone Pendant at Sculpture EXPO

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What To See and Do At Sculpture EXPO?

things to do at EXPO

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Exclusive Presentation by Phil White, Dominion Sculptor of Canada

We are excited to announce a presentation by Dominion Sculptor of Canada,Phil White at Sculpture EXPO, Sunday, October 27th at 11:00am.

Phil R. White is a Canadian artist and sculptor. He is the Dominion Sculptor of Canada, a Screen Shot 2019-10-16 at 7.53.28 AMposition whose duties include the creation of original works of art in sculpture. It is likely the only such government-salaried permanent position in the world (no such position exists in the United Kingdom, nor the United States.). Primarily, his works are figurative art. He is an architectural sculptor and carver and creates works in stone, wood, and bronze.

You won’t want to miss this presentation where Phil White will be discussing the history of the Parliamentary Sculpture Program. The origins of the program and the concept the architect of the Centre Block, John Pearson, had in 1917 to depict the history and culture of Canada in walls and columns throughout the building. Through the efforts of several generations of sculptors that idea has developed, and Phil White will bring us up to date on where we are today.

Don’t miss this unique presentation by Phil White, Dominion Sculptor of Canada at

Sculpture EXPO

Sunday, October 27th – 11:00am

Horticulture Building, Lansdowne Park

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Meet Bela Simo at Sculpture EXPO

There’s something magical and fascinating about Bela Simo’s towering metal sculptures. His work will welcome you outside the doors of the Horticulture Building and draw you into the showroom floor. You will be mesmerized by the power and majesty of his work.

Check out this video by Fannie Lux-Gauthier for a glimpse of what to expect.

Sculpture EXPO, October 25-27th at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park. Admission is free!

 

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Happy Thanksgiving! Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Everywhere!

fullsizeoutput_4118Check out what unusual pumpkin carvings Ephemeral Artist, James Cook creates – live -during opening night at Sculpture EXPO. Friday, October 25th at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park. Doors open at 5:00pm. He’ll also give you tips and tricks to make your pumpkin carvings last longer. If you ask, he may even recite one of his poems for you.

There are many forms of ephemeral art, from sculpture to performance, but the term is usually used to describe a work of art that only occurs once, like a happening, and cannot be embodied in any lasting object to be shown in a museum or gallery.

James Cook has created masterpieces in ice, sand and snow and this winter he heads back to Yellow Knife in the NorthWest Territories to compete in the SnowKings Snow Sculpture Competition. His team includes fellow NCNS artist Uwe Foehring.

James Cook is not just an ephemeral sculptor, he also paints and he sculpts in stone. Make sure to check out one of his new stone pieces at Sculpture EXPO.

October 25-27th at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park.

See you there!

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Sculpture EXPO

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Sculpture EXPO is only two weeks away!

Expo Schedule

Posted in art classes, Art Shows, Art Workshops, Artist of the Month, Canadian Stone Carving Festival, Exhibition Opportunities, learn how to sculpt, Member Event, Member Profiles, Metal Art, Miscellaneous, Network Show, sculpting workshops, Sculpture Atelier, Sculpture events, sculpture show, stone carving, stone sculpture, The Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, The national capital network of sculptors, workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adding Sculpture to Your Home or Office

With more and more people downsizing and moving into smaller condos or homes, every square inch of space is important. Visit us at Sculpture EXPO on Saturday, October 26th at 11:00am for an exciting seminar by Catherine Pulcine of CPI Interiors. Catherine will be discussing how to incorporate sculpture into your art collection and into your home or office. Don’t miss this opportunity.

catherine-pulcine-2017-high-res.jpgCatherine Pulcine is the Principal/Senior Designer for CPI Interiors.  She found the residential design company in May of 1998 and her and her designers have worked in over 6,000 homes in and around Ottawa.  She has won multiple awards for her designs and CPI Interiors is the largest design company in sales for Decorating Den Interiors’ 280 affiliated companies in North America.

 

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www.cpiinteriors.ca

 

Posted in art classes, Art Shows, Art Workshops, Canadian Stone Carving Festival, Exhibition Opportunities, learn how to sculpt, Member Event, Member Profiles, Metal Art, Miscellaneous, Network Show, sculpting workshops, Sculpture Atelier, Sculpture events, sculpture show, stone carving, stone sculpture, The Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, The national capital network of sculptors, workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stone Carving Workshop at Sculpture EXPO

What a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon – stir up some creativity and try your hand at soapstone carving with a FREE workshop by Master Stone Carver, Patrick Imai. You’ll learn how to make a beautiful pendant.

All supplies are included. Saturday, October 26th from 2pm to 4pm at Sculpture EXPO. Visit us at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park.

FREE Admission, FREE workshop!

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Expo Schedule

Posted in art classes, Art Shows, Art Workshops, Artist of the Month, Canadian Stone Carving Festival, Exhibition Opportunities, learn how to sculpt, Member Event, Member Profiles, Metal Art, Miscellaneous, Network Show, sculpting workshops, Sculpture Atelier, Sculpture events, sculpture show, stone carving, stone sculpture, The Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, The national capital network of sculptors, workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment