Art and art processes have fascinated me from a very young age.
In 1995 I began to study fine art at Capilano College in N. Vancouver, and recieved a scholarship to study Chinese ink painting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for 1 year.
Following my studies abroad, I spent 5 years honing my visual perception and rendering skills through an intensive, self-directed study of the human figure.
My interest turned away from the figure in 2001, and I began directing my energies towards painting abstractly, focusing on urban and natural landscapes, creating imagery from memory and imagination.
My first sewn canvas was made in December 2005, and I has been experimenting with this technique almost exclusively since then.
Where I live - the downtown core of a large city - is a place of contrasts, a world of multiple shifting layers created and inhabited predominantly by humans.
The clustered core of the city creates a strong visual impact with kaleidescopic variations of shape, form, texture and colour. The view from my high-rise flat inspires in me a kind of 3-dimensional feeling of floating among the buildings; they are not towering above me nor seen from a distance, but rather we exist together somewhere between earth and sky. They, like I - like most people - have a deliberate external veneer which conceals the activity within.
The burgeoning city is in a state of perpetual metamorphosis.
The internal structures visible during demolition and construction fascinate me, as do the materials - rough lumber, rebar protruding from concrete slabs, tarps billowing over unfinished windows, dust and gravel - all are an indication of the work of human hands.
Compare to the finished product: all evidence of physical humanity hidden, internal structures enclosed in a flawless sheath of clean, smooth glass and steel and concrete. Some of the buildings look almost alien, as though they just dropped down from the sky in present perfect manifestation - but human actvity continues, concealed inside offices, shoppng malls, restaurants and corridors.
This internal/external contrast, the intricate structural beauty of a changing city, and the many layers of perception possible in my environment are what I try to communicate in my works.
My paintings are carefully planned and constructed.
The stretchers are built, often in series of identical sizes, like multiple windows.
Pieces of canvas are stitched together to create city-scapes of varying degrees of abstraction, often with bits of fabric, mesh, etc. added for further textural contrast.
The sewn canvasses are stretched and the seams sealed, then they are gesso'd. At last they are ready for the final veneer: oil colour applied in layers of translucent glazes.
Creating work in this way appeals to me on several levels.
The kaleidescopic effect created by contrasting surface textures, translucent colour, and multiple paintings - which can be hung together in different ways to create larger images - is reflective of the shifting nature of the urban environment.
The harmonious integration of sewing and architecture - traditionally separated into womens' and mens' work, using soft and hard materials - creates a subtler layer of contrast.
The city has a feeling of permanence but will eventually cease to exist. My paintings have a fleeting, impermanent quality, but they are made with archival materials and may outlast the cityscapes which inspire them!
What is your artwork about?
Primarily my work is about colour and beauty. Secondarily it is a visual interpretation of the world I find myself in, and a fascination with the illusions of permanence I see all around me.
Living in the burgeoning city of Calgary, the construction zones are a constant inspiration - in the visual appeal of cranes, machinery, building materials and the underlying structures which are temporarily visible as a building goes up - and also in the way this makes me think about how man-made structures interact with natural environments, and about the nature of change.
What matters most to you about your work?
Beauty and a sense of wonderment, without which we are lost.
Do you feel the need to postion your work in the context of art history?
No. I believe that all artwork inevitably has some context in art history, but I am more concerned with creating the work than with trying to decide where or how it should "fit in".
What is the trigger/starting point for a painting?
My everyday surroundings provide plenty of inspiration. The starting point is the initial stitching of the canvas - essentially a drawing upon which the colour is applied.
The struggle is colossal at times, it seems I have to fight for every painting, to get the colour right, to get the balance. The best paintings are often ones which I feel I have "ruined" by some haphazard placement of colour or shape... It always amazes me when a painting miraculously appears out of my chaos!
How has your work evolved over the last 5 years?
The imagery has become less abstract while the surfaces have become more textured, and I am inspired more by my reactions to the external world, than by my imagination alone.
What mediums/techniques/processes do you use, and why?
Lately I like to stitch the canvas - building a city with a sewing machine, in effect - then gesso and paint. Oil colour is applied in translucent layers, because I like the idea that the visible surface is made up of everything that is underneath.
In the city there are many layers: visually as in buildings behind and on top of one another, with all their internal/external structure; idealogically as in what goes on inside them compared to their outer veneer; and throughout everything the sounds of activity like many radio stations all playing at once. Taken all together it's a sort of irrisistable cacaphony of nuances.
What are your other passions in life & how have these influenced your art?
I love to engage in physical activity - swimming, hiking, cycling, walking rather than driving, etc. I love sewing - making clothing, purses, and especially quilts. Horticulture is another love, the fascination of a plant or tree sprouting from a seed - just recently I planted some lychee seeds (from fruit I ate, yes) and now I have two little trees about 6 inches tall! How cool is that?
I believe that everything I am goes into my art, it is not a separate activity from the rest of life. I strive to be the best I can be - physically, mentally and spiritually - because the art I create will reflect who I am as a person, and hopefully will bring joy and inspiration to others.
Why are you an artist?
Because it is the best way I know to lose my sense of self and become part of something bigger.
- 1995 - 1997
Studio Arts Foundation Program, Capilano College, N. Vancouver, BC
- 1997 - 1998
3rd Year Fine Arts, Institut Seni Lukis Malasia, Kuala Lumpur
- focussed on oil painting and Chinese Ink Painting
- recieved Asia-Pacific College Students' Award to fund my studies abroad
- 1996 - 2002
Self-directed study of drawing and painting the human figure from life
- Vancouver, BC
- 2 solo and 3 group shows at Basic Inquiry Studio
- several solo shows at The Wik and Cafe Barney
- 3 years' participation in Vancouver Culture Crawl
- Calgary, AB
- 2 solo shows at Steeps Urban Teahouse
- several solo and group shows with Untitled Art Society (UAS)
- 1 solo show in UAS +15 showcase in Epcor Centre
- 4 years' participation in Calgary Artwalk
- 3 group shows at Triangle Gallery annual Christmas fundraiser event
- S2 Architecture, Calgary
- Talisman Energy, Calgary