Painted canvas relief structures as conversation pieces

Transformation of found domestic and industrial objects into intimate paintings

'Emotionally driven' series at XChanges Gallery in Victoria, B.C.

‘Emotionally driven’ series by Tanta Pennington at XChanges Gallery in Victoria, B.C.


As a studio member of Xchanges Gallery in Victoria, I had the pleasure of seeing painted canvas relief structures by local artist Tanta Pennington in our exhibition room every day for the month of March. Depending on my mood, I could suddenly relate to ‘Hope’ whereas an hour before ‘Compassion’ was talking to me. One morning I found myself only drawn to the black paintings whereas the evening before the white structures appealed to me. How does the artist explain this interaction between her art and the observer?

Tanta: I think most people are surprised. They are surprised that the pieces are small, surprised that they are one colour and surprised that pure abstract shapes can start an internal dialogue of questions.

'Surprise' by Tanta Pennington

‘Surprise’ by Tanta Pennington

Can you tell us more about your series ‘Emotionally driven’?

Tanta: The series was initiated through the gathering of ordinary objects. By transforming found domestic and industrial objects into intimate paintings and only using the colours, white, grey or black, I have discovered a new form of self-expression.

You have been working on the series for the last three years, making almost forty pieces.

Tanta: Each one has started with a 10 in. x 8 in. canvas support. As I attach found objects I start to think about composition, textures and how I can weave them all together. The covering process is very peaceful and tactical. Sometimes I dip, then pour, but usually I scoop handfuls of paint and lay it slowly and carefully on the surface. Depending on the layers of paint each piece can take up to several months to dry.

The large piece Genesis is a combination of all the paintings, I would add onto it as I made the small ones, so even though it was the last one finished it was really the beginning.

'Hope' by Tanta Pennington

‘Hope’ by Tanta Pennington

Your pieces are titled e.g. ‘lust’, ‘compassion’, ‘envy’, ‘hope’, ‘surprise’, ‘regret’. Do they epitomize your very personal emotion at the time of their creation?

Tanta: After each piece was finished I would spend time observing it, looking at the shadows, how the paint would sit on the surface, and how everything had amalgamated. Then I would wait for the emotion to surface. Only then would I name the piece and write the Haiku.

What materials do you use?

Tanta: My painted canvas relief structures are made out of wire, wool, and screws, combined with objects made from metal, wood, and plastic. I like to amalgamate found materials and handmade objects with traditional methods of execution such as painting and drawing to create modern, innovative pieces.

Do you ever work on many pieces at the same time?

Tanta: Yes, I do! I tend to go back and forth between making sculptures, installations, wall works, paintings and drawings. And I am comfortable working in either a small or large scale.

What makes you tick as an artist?

Tanta: I have a restless and fertile imagination. Shapes, colours, and bits of conversations are constantly seducing me. It just happens. Sometimes I envy friends that can just walk down the road and only see the road.

What or who inspires you?

Tanta: Opulent shop windows, hardware stores, construction sites, shadows and back alleys.

If you could have a conversation with one of the following artists, who would you choose? Constantin Brancusi, Auguste Rodin, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Victor Vasarely or M.C. Escher?

Tanta: I would invite Auguste Rodin and M.C. Escher to late dinner at Chez Denise in Les Halles, Paris. I would let the vin rouge flow and just listen to them talk as the waiters danced their ballet around us.

Tanta, thank you for sharing your thoughts with my audience.


Tanta DeStaffany Pennington is based in Victoria, Canada and is a Fine Arts Diploma and Independent Studio Program graduate from the Vancouver Island School of Art. Tanta has exhibited work at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria International Airport, The Victoria Conference Centre, and local galleries. Tanta participated in the International 2011 Florence Biennale. Her work is in collections in Western Canada, Hawaii, California, and Italy.

XChanges Gallery Victoria BC
Gallery Hours 2:00-4:00 Saturday & Sunday
This exhibition runs through to Sunday, March 30 th, 2014



Seen and liked: Bailey’s Stardust in London

Exhibition of thought-provoking portraits at National Portrait Gallery until 1 June


A few days ago, I went to see Stardust in London. What a treat!  “I try to simplify things by just having a white background and no distractions”, David Bailey once said. “I don’t care about ‘composition’ or anything like that. I just want the emotion of the person in the picture to come across.”

As well as new work, this landmark exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery features over 250 images – personally  selected and printed – by David Bailey.

Bailey, whose career has spanned more than half a century, has made an outstanding contribution to photography and the visual arts, creating consistently imaginative and thought-provoking portraits.

“In photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary.” David Bailey

Bailey’s Stardust illustrates the extraordinary range of subjects that Bailey has captured: actors, musicians, filmmakers, writers, designers, models, artists and people encountered on his travels. Rooms are devoted to icons from the worlds of fashion and the arts, striking portraits of the Rolling Stones and Catherine Bailey and people of the East End of London, as well as Bailey’s time in East Africa, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Delhi and the Naga Hills.

More information

National Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery
The Gallery was founded in 1856 to collect portraits of famous British men and women. Visitors can explore over 195,000 portraits from the 16th Century to the present day. There is also the photographs collection which consists of more than 250,000 original photographic images of which at least 130,000 are original negatives. They date from the 1840s to the present day. For more information, click here.

David Bailey
(born in London, 1938), who had taught himself photography, became a photographic assistant at the John French studio before being contracted as a fashion photographer for Vogue magazine. Along with Terence Donovan, he captured the Swinging London of the 1960s: a culture of high fashion and celebrity chic. Together, they were the first real celebrity photographers, socializing with musicians, actors and royalty. Read more on Wikipedia.