Artists Speak – Dealing with Isolation

Maria Saracino – Polymer Clay Figurative Artist

The world feels surreal. This pandemic is frightening and I worry about my family and for my community, so I’m doing my part to self-isolate. We recently moved to a smaller home and a smaller studio space, so my studio is my distraction right now as I work on organizing and compacting everything into the new space. I don’t mind solitude when I am creating, I actually like it. But a big part of what I do is teaching, and I think that’s probably what I 3831E5B2-CAF7-4075-B05B-A4DF401215E7miss most because that’s how I connect with people. As artists we are normally very insecure and that contact with our audience helps validate what we do.

Even at my busiest, I would break up the isolation with a little shopping. I can’t do that now, and I miss it. Online shopping is not quite the same. This is a sculpture called “Retail Therapy” it’s in a private collection now, but I thought I would share it with you. I think it’s appropriate for some of us going through shopping withdrawl. 

Stay home and stay safe.”

You can see more of Maria’s work at http://www.saracinocollection.com or on our online gallery at https://sculptureottawa.ca/online-gallery-2/

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Artists Speak – Dealing with Isolation

Bastien Martel – Metal Artist

It is definitely challenging for everyone but more so for artists. When your studios and galleries are all closed you are basically left to yourself. Being an artist is already a solitary occupation so not having those few moments out of the studio to meet fellow artists and the public creates a real void.
20200308_111936Thankfully my studio is home based and with all this social distancing I have had more time to explore my next direction of abstract action all over sculpture. I was able to winterize my studio in December. This allowed me to be active early in the year. I have also started exploration of ink and paint drawings on paper. So far the test pieces are really promising. I have almost completed 4 pieces and have another 12 on the way. Working towards a busy October 2020 with a solo show and of course Sculpture Expo 2020. I have included pictures of these early unfinished explorations.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share and connect with each other and help alleviate a bit of the loneliness of this confinement. Hope you are well.”
You can see more of Bastien’s work at http://www.bastienmartel.com or on our Online Gallery at https://sculptureottawa.ca/online-gallery-2/
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Artists in Isolation

As artists we are used to working alone, nevertheless, galleries and shows are important for us to see how other people react to our work. For the next few weeks, as we deal with the Covid 19 crisis, we plan on sharing how artists from the National Capital Network of Sculptors are dealing with isolation. Check in often. To start things off, here is an excellent article on a few artists who created their best works in isolation.

In the age of “social distancing,” reflecting on works by a number of artists who found themselves isolated, detained, or bed-ridden for various reasons.

 

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In the age of “social distancing,” reflecting on works by a number of artists who found themselves isolated, detained, or bed-ridden for various reasons.
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Inspired by Love

Love is the heart and soul of creativity. It has inspired some of the most famous masterpieces in the world, from the architectural splendor of Emperor Shah Jahan’s Taj Mahal, to the passionate sculptural embrace of Canova’s “Psyche Revived By Cupid’s Kiss,” to Gustave Klimpt’s iconic painting, “The Kiss.”

Like all great artists, members of the National Capital Network of Sculptors have also been inspired by love.  Enjoy our little slide show. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Beauce Art, International de la Sculpture

Congratulations to NCNS member, Béla Simó, who was choosen to represent Canada at the symposium, Beauce Art The International of Sculpture that will be held in Saint-Georges, Québec, from May 24th to June 14th 2020. He is one of ten artists who will create on the subject « Radiancy in open air ». The ten new sculptures will be added to the city open-air museum. The other artists include Rachid Bakhouz (Morocco), Amin Balaghi and Mehdi Ashoori (Iran), Bansimba Kylous (Congo), Shuengit Chow (France), Furkan Depeli (Turkey), Luka Radojevic (Montenegro), Zhao Li (China) and Michelle Giguère (Canada), Who appears in the photo with Béla Simó, next to Béla’s mock-up. This year, the sculptures created will be installed inside a circle on a post beside the river, the bicycle path and the road.

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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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