The new fall season at the Maple Ridge Art Gallery opened on the weekend with Celebrate Craft!, an exhibit featuring the work of 13 outstanding artists who work in fibre art, clay and mixed media.
The exhibition is a tribute to artists who have brought their work to the level of ‘master’ craftsman or artisan. Talk to any serious crafts person about the seemingly capricious nature of the kiln, dye pot or medium they work with, and you soon realize that even the most experienced craft artists still occasionally contend with disappointing results after hours of fruitless effort. But for some, it is the unexpected and often unforgiving nature of their medium that drives them forward
Local ceramic artists, Judith Burke and Junichi Tanaka have been showing in distinguished professional artist spaces throughout the Lower Mainland and beyond for many years, but are rarely shown in their own community. The Maple Ridge Art Gallery is proud to be able to show their work along with other leading artisans from various locations throughout Metro Vancouver, said curator Barbara Duncan .
Part of the impetus for the exhibition came through the Craft Council of B.C.’s invitation to public galleries in the region to join them in commemorating their 40th anniversary.
In its call for a wider appreciation for the practice of fine craft, the council cites writer Malcolm Gladwell’s rule, that `10,000 hours’ is the minimal requirement for proficiency in any serious endeavour.
Ironically, also, it is often the simplest craft object that reflects the ultimate in refinement, perhaps reflecting a single moment when chance, skill, effort and atmosphere worked to bring about perfection.
What can you look forward to finding in this exhibition?
Printmaker Saskia Jetten’s love of drawing is everywhere apparent in the strange and intriguing figures that bear witness to her fanciful imagination.
Scarves, books, soft sculpture and ceramics reveal fragmentary but beautifully rendered hand-drawn forms that speak of an edgy, dream-like landscape.
Julie Pongrac’s ethereal three-dimensional knitted vessels and garments truly inhabit the territory of what is increasingly referred to as ‘soft sculpture’. The fact that some of her knitted pieces are wearable seems ancillary, given their power as objects in themselves. Her style is frequently botanical in inspiration with inventive flourishes amidst a reliable pattern repeat that provides structure to her knitted forms.
Artisanal weaver Jo Skinner comments on her background, “I’ve spent 35 years designing things, first in the garment industry, then in architectural colour, then in web development – and now in weaving. Of all my obsessions, colour is my favourite.” Skinner frequently hand-dyes the fibres with which she works and can often be found at her loom at Granville Island’s Silk Weaving Studio.
Ellen Hamilton, who works from her studio in Mission, will show her whimsical felted hats alongside a selection of truly breathtaking weaving.
Celebrate Craft! also feature tapestry artist Barbara Heller, who will be the subject of a solo show in spring 2014.
Celebrate Craft! is at the Maple Ridge Art Gallery located in the ACT until Nov. 9.