Women who work in metal

New exhibit opens at the Maple Ridge Art Gallery

Tree of Life bowl by Karin Marita Jones.

Tree of Life bowl by Karin Marita Jones.

Six artists whose medium is metal will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at Maple Ridge Art Gallery.

Working in a wide range of styles, Sandra Bilowich, Stefanie Dueck, Anna Gusakova, Cheryl Hamilton, Karin Marita Jones, and Sylvie Roussel-Janssens show a remarkable range of approaches and sensibilities to working in this challenging medium.

Bilowich’s work bears more than a few traces of her formative years in the Yukon, where an interest in landscapes led her to further studies in geology and gemology.

Her ability to work dynamically with stone ultimately led to an exploration of metal.  These days, working from her studio, Elemental Designs in East Vancouver, Bilowich often combines metal and stone in both abstract and figurative forms.

“Each creation is a journey,” she says.

“It is like a conversation in which I listen to the material at hand, whether it is stone, reclaimed metal or wood. The outcome is my ability to explore the character of the element and combine its essence with physical expression.”

Originally from Vladivostok City, Russia, Gusakova’s propulsion towards a career in art began in early childhood as she was fortunate enough to be accepted in a special art school for children.

She continued on this path and finally emerged with an Masters in Fine Art from Moscow University in 2008, after which she relocated to and established a studio practice.

There is impressive purity and honesty about both Gusakova’s ceramic and metal work, both of which will be featured in the exhibition.

If you have ever noticed the metal sculpture just outside the Leisure Centre in Maple Ridge’s Spirit Square, you already have a passing familiarity with Hamilton’s work.

Hamilton is part of the duo “ie Creative Artworks,” which won the first formal commission for public artwork by the District of Maple Ridge.

Her metal work is often complemented by brilliant translucent glass works that draws on her training in glass blowing at the acclaimed Pilchuck School in Washington State.

Originally trained in jewellery art and design, Jones went on to extend her practice to include larger sculptural forms informed by further studies in Germany and Finland.

Featured in the show will be a number of her works using a technique called Damascene, a process traditionally used to inlay intricate gold and silver patterns on armour and weapons:

“I have been fascinated with the combination of silver and gold with steel ever since I saw an exhibition of Japanese sword guards over 10 years ago,” says Jones.

“I later saw suits of armour inlaid with intricate patterns in a museum in Paris. These works of art seemed to represent a series of exquisite contrasts: hard and soft materials, base and precious metals, and the paradox of such delicate artistry used to decorate instruments of brutality and war.”

Dueck was drawn to work with metal when she embarked on her studies at the Kootenay School of Art in 2003. In addition to hot forging steel and welding, Dueck introduced to her work an ancient technique called lost wax casting, in which a wax or ceramic mould is used to caste either one or a series of works.

After taking further training in Spain, Stefanie’s commissions included large scale architectural projects such as gates and railings.

As a counterbalance to these larger more industrial pieces, Dueck produces decorative flatware and sculpture, fusing together natural and abstract forms to create somewhat fanciful creatures in her Vancouver studio.

Unique among the sculptors in this exhibition, Roussel-Janssens combines fabric and welded structures which are illuminated with dazzling effect when shown against a window or other light source. She has chosen to show images of Chilliwack and Cultus Lake, both of which were created for this exhibition.

• Women Who Work With Metal opens Saturday and runs until Nov. 12.

Artist Demonstrations

• Sylvie Roussel-Jannsens offers a hands-on demonstration about her process in combining fabric with metal on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

• Karin Marita Jones  gives an informal presentation on her work, her inspiration and the different ways she approaches her craft on Saturday, Nov. 5 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.