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My inspiration for the Ghost Towns paintings began with a series of trips within rural Manitoba and south through the grain belt of United States. I became aware of the deterioration of many of the small towns. Houses that were once grand were decaying and visibly returning to the earth; “For Sale” signs dotted the main street buildings; and railway lines were fenced off as trucks roared down the main streets. However, even as the economic viability of these towns dwindled, an interesting juxtaposition of rebirth was evident. Antique stores and flea markets were taking over abandoned businesses, and fairs and exhibitions were attempting to lure in new populations. A sense of impermanency pervaded.
Everything in our contemporary life is in constant fluctuation — nothing is as it was a second ago. And yet we hold onto possessions, personal image, people, values, beliefs and habits as if they were meant to remain the same forever.
Ghost Towns, is about impermanency and its related consequences, and as such I have shifted my approach and processes of image-making.
I have limited my mediums to image transfer combined with paint. I begin each painting with layering the image transfers onto the canvas. I then pull the images together through painting. More transfers and paint are added until I achieve my desired effect. Because the images for transfer come from various sources, a discord is produced. Perspectives, proportions, colours and light sources are all slightly off from each other producing an uneasy, ungrounded and surreal quality.
At first glance, each scene appears casually realistic, but a closer look reveals a deeper layer in which sarcastic, humorous, ominous and even ghostly events transpire.
* a vehicle to deliver nourishment
* the cause of close emotional attachment
* a source of origin, a basis, a means of continuance
* to root - to establish a firm base
During summer hikes along pathways and river banks, I am drawn to the winding patterns of tree roots. Some strong and resilient like corded rope, others brittle and weathered like polished bones or old gnome fingers, and others flowing and shimmering like ghostly snakes. Pushing up from their earth home to meet the air and warmth of the sun, they are but a hint of the hidden structure that lies below.
My attention shifts to the spaces within the roots - the arrangement of rocks and plants, puddles and insects, all nestled within the crossed boundaries. Closer inspection reveals layer upon layer of their own intricate worlds.
“Roots” - my series of seven paintings - represents this relationship of strength and mystery. Dense oil paint portrays the concreteness of the roots - the base of strength and source of nourishment - while layers of image transfer build ethereal almost hidden scenes within.
Nature speaks and I offer up her stories through my art. As I walk in her beauty – be it snow, sand, rocks or trees - my ideas take sprout, grow, bear fruit and fold within themselves. Living in Manitoba on a foundation of limestone has inspired my latest body of work based upon fossils. Polished leathered shapes raised upon or carved into ancient stone, they are fascinating in their textures, shapes and lines; mesmerizing in their details. Scales, veins, tendrils, ridges form the “bare bones” of past stories taunting us to unearth the characters and reveal the plots.
“The river was flowing gently and softly … but it’s voice sounded odd; it was laughing!” Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
The river flows gently around our bodies, slips through our fingers, and turns into mist. We see it as the gentle, nourishing female element while earth with it’s solid forms and rich textures is the strength that provides our world with stability. Similarly, when we think of our own strength we focus on our bodies for they are tactile, made of muscle and bone. But in reality it is our emotional, mental and spiritual bodies that provide our stability or our collapse. It is our soul’s reaction to our body’s action that creates our destiny, just as water carves and molds the earth into its ever-changing shape.
Nature instinctively moves with the ebbs and flows, accepting where the river will take it. We choose to muscle our way through life rather than listen to the rhythms within. It is this contrast of function and its effects, that are the subject matter of my latest body of work. I have chosen the river as the symbol of our “True Selves” or the “All Knowing”. It represents the strength deep within us as we try to balance our inner conflicts of humility and confidence, joy and envy, apathy and compassion.
In working with a variety of mediums, I make choices based upon the medium’s own emotional or mental impact. overlays of handmade paper lend an air of delicacy and vulnerability, while the paper casts form more rigid and determined expressions. Layers of transparent colours represent the depth of awareness needed to arrive at the “All Knowing”. At times I have chosen to allow Nature to speak for itself, while in other works I have woven the Human element into Nature or made the Human form the primary subject.