My latest ‘lemon squares’

Oil painting series ‘lemon squares’ by Daniela Herold (2016)

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“I thought of you in Paris”, my godchild Lilly wrote to me yesterday. “I saw Manet’s lemon – it’s beautiful!”

I couldn’t agree more. Manet’s oil painting of a single lemon from 1880 is ‘lovely’ – for lack of a better word.  For hundreds of years, painters have chosen lemons as objects in their art – for instance Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-1684), Luis Melendez, Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) or Edouard Manet in the late 19th century, to name but a few.

But what is it about lemons that they are so often featured in still lifes? Is it their bold colour? Their unique shape and texture? Is it how they reflect light?

All of that is true – and they are simply great fun to paint! Here is my latest series of my ‘lemons squares’, enjoy 🙂

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Further lemons:

Check out Noah Layne’s website – he’s the master of lemons
http://www.noahlayne.com/Lemons,BaggedandBoxed.html

 

 

 

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The need to belong

Series ‘be-longing’ by Daniela S. Herold at Cowichan Performing Arts Centre in Duncan

'Lemonisity' by D.S. Herold

‘Lemonisity’
Oil on board by D.S. Herold

In 1970, American psychologist Abraham Maslow pointed out that belonging was an essential and prerequisite human need that had to be met before one could achieve a sense of self-worth. 

I immigrated to Canada in 2004 after having lived in different countries for the last 20 years. The theme of migration and identity has concerned me for years – I know what it is like to leave ‘home’ and move to a new place, where unfamiliar people become neighbours, colleagues and friends.  However, I have always moved by choice with a job, a loving partner or a place waiting for me. I was the fortunate one – unlike hundreds of thousands of refugees who know about displacement, having moved out of their native home and country due to civil wars, persecution or natural disasters.

the essence - long

‘The essence’ by D.S. Herold

Today, my friend Rosemary and I finished hanging 35 paintings from my latest series titled ‘be-longing’ at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre in Duncan.  The show is close to my heart because it focuses on growing roots, being connected and belonging with others. The exhibition can be seen until the end of January 2016.

‘Humans have a natural need to belong with others.
To belong means to be connected.’

Why is the topic of belonging such a common theme in literature, music and the arts?

The need to belong is rooted in evolutionary history. Human beings are social animals who have always depended on having close connections in order to survive and reproduce. In our daily life, we seek out those who are most similar to us because we feel that we can relate to them and they can understand us.

As an immigrant, I wanted to belong and to grow roots here in Canada – I have been longing to be part of this culture while at the same time needing to stay close to my European roots.

Humans have a natural need to belong with others. To belong means to be connected. As for me, the word home is connected just as much to a place as it is connected to a person. In that sense I felt I could take the word ‘belonging’ apart (BE-LONGING) as in ‘I am longing’ for something that makes me whole.

'Camouflage’. Oil on board

‘Camouflage’. Oil on board by D.S. Herold

Every time you are taken out of your ‘heart community’, there is a void that yearns to be filled. For me, the alienation was caused by my move to another country. For many, the feeling can be the result of the scattering of their families, the break-down of traditional groups or the disappearance of a village familiarity where everyone knows everyone. Millions of people are taken out of their heart communities as I am writing these lines – the stories of their suffering during the current refugee and migrant crisis in Europe are enormous.

‘I am longing’ for something that makes me whole.’

A friend asked me whether ‘the artist and nationality’ are a central theme in my art. About a year ago, when I started the series ‘be-longing’, I was wondering how important nationality would (have to) be? At one point it confronted me with quite a dilemma: how could I – as a German-Canadian artist – portray ‘Germanness’ in general if all symbols of Germany are tainted by the past? The artist Anselm Kiefer already asked that existential question in the 1960s.

as a bug - long

‘As snug as a bug in a rug.’ Oil on board by D.S. Herold

When I was reflecting on my own sense of nationality and what it means for me as an artist, I came across a quote by Saltire Award winner Meaghan Delahunt that I really liked. She wrote in 2003: ‘It is not the responsibility of the artist to present a comfortable or ‘identifiable’ picture of the nation in which they were born or in which they live, and they should be free to write about whatever they see fit in whatever language they see fit.’  

This project left me with the interesting question: how important is my nationality in the context of belonging when I compare it to other staples of my life, e.g. my family, my friends, networks, groups, environment etc? As it turned out, nationality has been only one aspect of many.

Belonging has a lot to do with getting recognition and developing self-esteem. According to Maslow, we only develop self-esteem when we are anchored in community. At the end of the day it is the community that gives us the recognition for our achievements, and it is the community that respects us for our mastery in a certain field.

How we portray and express this human need of belonging, so deeply ingrained in our nature, is very individual – as is the artistic presentation of the topic around it. I want my viewers to create their very own story of my art – that is why my paintings leave a lot of room for imagination and assumptions.

Of course there is ‘my’ story behind every painting, but what would art be if it doesn’t reach out and touch your life? What makes me tick is when my paintings manage to hold your attention for a while, when they can inspire you or make you wonder.

Why art? Because.

Daniela S. Herold

 


Further information : Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

swirls - long

‘In unison.’ Oil on board by D.S. Herold

 

 

Paintings/Photographs by D.S. Herold  / Copyright 2015

Oscillatio – a show about the reverberation of the heart

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Canadian artists Sarah Cowan and Connie Michele Morey have spent this last year in a mutual and collaborative journey that has included a joint drumming practice as well as “personal, philosophical and studio exchanges – that have resulted in the unfolding of a resonant body of work.” An inspiring exhibition for the month of January that put a smile on my face every time I walked through our gallery XChanges in Victoria, B.C. No matter how often I was passing by those hundreds of small felt balls of every colour and size pinned against the while gallery wall, I enjoyed seeing their grey shadows move from right to left, feeling light and inspired. ‘Quirky’, ‘magical’ and ‘fun’ come to mind, when looking at Sarah’s and Connie’s pieces of art – elaborate and intricate paper installations, delicate drawings or a little toy sheep, whose head and legs are sticking out of a ball of felt. 

Connie and Sarah – What kind of work has your current show ‘Oscillatio’ been focussing on?

Connie and Sarah: Our show consists of installation and sculptural work that makes use of materials and techniques related to contemporary craft (paper, felt, thread, fabric, wood). The work centers on the theme Oscillatio.

felt ball

Where does the ‘Oscillatio’ come from?

Connie and Sarah: It originates from the notion of Oscillation – a back and forth movement. It is the reverberation that the heart makes while beating, the back and forth movement of the tides, the vibration of a viola string or the sway of the movement of walking and dancing.

When things oscillate they move around a center. Does that have any relevance in your work?

Connie and Sarah: Indeed. Our work has developed out of an oscillation between ourselves, and our practices as artists. Ove the last 14 months, Sarah and I have engaged in a back and forth movement of sharing our practice and live experience.

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As a viewer, what qualities do you think make for an interesting piece of art? What piques your interest personally?

Sarah: This is a hard question to answer. I don’t have a specific genre that I like exclusively. I am most intrigued with any work that makes me want to look at it more. Work that pulls me in and makes me ask questions, not so much about the process but more about what the artist is asking themselves and what it asks of me. I like work that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable, when I feel compelled to turn away but at the same time intensely drawn to it. And then, there is just beauty.

Connie: I feel inspired when I look at a work of art that is both visceral and critically engaged, a work that invites you to look at the world from new perspectives. I appreciate work that engages an aesthetic experience in the viewer.

What do you mean by aesthetic experience – the opposite of an anaesthetic, which functions to numb your senses?

Connie (laughing): Yes, something that wakes up your senses and makes you feel alive.   To produce a work of art that can wake up the body, soul and mind simultaneously takes great insight and trust in the creative process. Works that induce inspiration for making, thinking and moving are gifts to the world.

paper art

Do you sometimes look at particularly inspiring work of art and have a strong visceral response?

Connie: Absolutely – I literally want to jump, dance, speak, write or make in response to it. Annette Messager, Louise Bourgeois and Ann Hamilton are artists whose work has this kind of effect on me. Hiraki Sawa’s recent exhibition at AGGV also elicited a visceral and joyful response in me. I found it inspiring, full stop. Work that challenges me to think on a deep intuitive level and also elicits a visceral response is a catalyst for creative engagement with the world; art that offers that kind of experience is a gift.

 

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Being an artist can sometimes be really frustrating. What are the obstacles you’ve run into and how do you go about navigating around them?

Sarah: The biggest obstacle I contend with is myself. I doubt myself all the time. You see, I don’t really think I am a very good artist so I need to keep working at it. I now know that it is what I need to do. Whether I am good or not doesn’t really come into it (but it’s lovely when things do work out!). A day or two away from the studio is very disconcerting for me now.

Connie: Being an artist is a gift, an absolute pleasure. I know that there are limitations that make it challenging for people in general to make art; e.g. financial constraints that put limitations on the artist’s time, or instances when people struggle with developing ideas or trusting themselves as artists. However, I honestly don’t think of these things as limitations – they are important parts of the process of engaging with the world through making and they inform art practice in essential ways.

Sarah: I agree – they provide openings for us to know ourselves better as artists.

Connie: Sure, I would love more time to make art, but it is ok that I have to struggle for that time. As for the process of developing ideas and engaging with the process of making… truthfully, I have great trust in the process of making. It is a space where I can let things unfold on a deep intuitive level with joy and relatively little effort. The process of making art, like writing, is a process where I feel completely at home with myself.

felt balls

When you go into ‘work mode’, do you have a particular agenda or something in mind that you are hoping for?

Connie: I think in a way I am always in ‘work mode’… even when I am teaching or driving a car, reading to my daughter, dancing or preparing breakfast I am in the process of making. I see the boundaries between different areas of my life as very fluid and open. Art is a way of engaging with the world for me. Art works are markers of that continuous process.

Sarah: When I go into ‘work mode’ it’s usually materially based. I have an idea about creating or exploring with a material to see what I can come up with. Or, I see another artist’s work and it inspires me to try or play. I am never without my sketchbook and use it constantly to explore or just play. My legacy to my son will be my sketchbooks!!!

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Both of you have an interest in working with felt, paper and mixed media. Where did you get the idea for a collaborative exhibition?

Sarah: Connie called me one day in 2013 and asked if I would be interested in putting in a proposal to Xchanges. We have a similar sympathy and sensibility in our art practice as well as our personal philosophy toward life. I admire so much Connie’s approach to her work; her dedication and commitment as well as her all out passion and creativity!

Connie: We’ve often met in each other’s studios and talked about the points of intersection between our work and the ways that each of our practices has impacted each other. Although articulated through different means, our work shares certain commonalities in its intricacy, repetition, and focus on care-full processes that are in some ways obsessive. I’ve been inspired by Sarah’s work since an exhibition she had in 2012 at Xchanges. We were delighted when the jury accepted our application and we started drumming together and meeting on a monthly basis to share ideas, work and life experience.

Connie, what have been your two favourite shows that you have done and why?

Connie: I don’t know if I can speak of whole shows that are my favourite… this is a difficult question for me. Making art is significantly about the process for me. Sharing the work through an exhibition is important too, but more because it is an opportunity to exchange – and in this sense is really a process in itself. The finished work is less important than the processes of making it, sharing it and shifting perspectives through that sharing.

It sounds like collaborating is integral to your process?

Connie: Absolutely, and more so as time goes on. I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with Sarah and with other artists, writers, scientists, and philosophers to expand my thinking through making. I don’t think of exhibitions as finished works, so this question is hard for me to answer.

Image A

Sarah, what have been your two favourite shows that you have done and why?

My favourite show was my graduation exhibition at the Vancouver Island School of Art in 2011. I converted one of the closets into a drawing using pen & ink, charcoal, wire, paint, thread, paper, photo-transfers, pins and other mixed media. The other show was at Xchanges where I took the idea of the closet, the contained space, the safe space, and built a free-standing closet drawing on the walls and ceiling. Both of these exhibitions were based on my long history of living with an eating disorder and trying to find my own space in the world.

Any upcoming events?

Connie: I think Oscillatio is the beginning of future collaborations.

Sarah: Indeed. We will be showing together in another group exhibition in May, and have plans to collaborate for another show in November 2015.

Connie and Sarah, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with my readers.

About:

Sarah Cowan plays with the concept of connection/disconnection between her internal self and her relationship with the external world. The materials she uses are pen and ink drawings, text and thread, oil paint, paper cut work and now needle felted sculpture. She graduated from the Vancouver Island School of Art in 2011 with a Diploma in Fine Arts and continues her art practice in association with Gallery 1580 as resident curator.

www.gallery1580.com

Connie M. Morey is an artist, writer, teacher and practice-based researcher whose work is ecologically situated.  Her current studio practice includes the permeable genres of installation, sculpture, contemporary craft, performance, ceramics, drawing, painting, artist’s books and critical-creative writing. She received her BFA (Visual Arts) from the University of Lethbridge in 1995, an M.Ed. (Art Education) in 2007 and is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Victoria.

http://www.conniemorey.com/

Photographer Barry Herring – Telling his truth with a slant

Canadian artist wants his viewers to be ‘arrested’

Photography is the language of light – a fine art that goes way beyond technical details. My artist colleague and long-term Xchanges Member Barry Herring uses his camera as a source material to start. The photographer from Victoria B.C. invites his viewers to wander in his images and find their own meaning. Herring has been working in a traditional black and white darkroom as well as in colour with digital techniques.

DSC_5574

 Barry, you are a true lens-based visual artist – however your art is not an exact replication of what you see.

 Barry Herring: I don’t think we don’t need more replicas. The camera is a tool for me to find source material and a starting point to explore and have some fun.

 Are you not interested in just capturing a moment forever?

 Barry Herring: I want the viewer to initially be arrested and then invited or drawn into the image to start a personal and hopefully deeper exploration of the work, arriving at their own conclusions or telling their own stories of what they experience.

 Or as Emily Dickinson puts it: “Tell the truth, but tell it with a slant”?

 Barry Herring: Indeed. I try to find a balance in presenting enough ambiguity in the image to allow the viewer to wander in and find their own meaning, but not so much that the image becomes overly complicated and is ignored because it is not concrete enough.

 You have been taking photos for long time. How has the nature of photos changed in your opinion?

 Barry Herring: Taking pictures about 30 years ago used to be a big deal. Rolls of film used to be expensive, so we put a lot of thought into what we wanted to capture. Today, buying paper and film material for your camera has practically become an art form again.

CarCard Do you prefer digital or film photography?

 Barry Herring: Film photography has something magical about it – particularly when the image emerges from the chemicals on the tray. There’s nothing like it. I have no real preference as it varies with the project I am working on.

 

You say that your approach starts from patient observation with a personal vision in mind.

 Barry Herring: A lot has to do with anticipation. In my art I am looking for something different, but it is all about knowing where to look.

 Where did you look when you went on an expedition to the Arctic for example?

 Barry Herring: Up North, where there are not trees, just landform, I was exploring ‘The Line’…. the line between weather and earth. I remember feeling totally immersed in nature, incredibly small and insignificant standing on a large piece of ice.

 Barry, would you share some details with my readers on how to do your amazing sponge technique?

  Barry Herring: I have been playing with developing prints using sponges or other tools to achieve unanticipated results. This is instead of putting them through a tray of developer fluid. The resulting images are really lens-based monoprints as each one is unique and can’t be exactly reproduced. When combined with toning or hand colouring you get interesting results.

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 Do you ever attend workshops on photography?

I recently attended a week-long workshop put on by John Sexton who was an assistant to Ansel Adams and is recognized as one of the best traditional film photographers alive. He is a true master craftsman and it was inspiring to see how he worked with his cameras and in his darkroom. I realized that the type of photography that interested him was not at all similar to my focus. However the care in his approach to the craft and the desire to produce an image that inspires viewers is the same for both of us.

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Barry, which photographers have inspired you?

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson for composition
  • Robert Frank for street photography
  • Richard Avedon for portraits
  • Sebastiao Salgado for his vast landscapes
  • Michael Kenna for his quiet landscapes
  • Gerhard Richter for hand coloured photos
  • Jeff Wall for the introduction of narrative
  • Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison for arresting imaging

 Barry Herring, thank you for sharing your thoughts with my readers.

Barry

Canadian Artists Barry Herring and Ritchard Motchman. Photographic Collage by B. Herring

About:

Barry Herring, a retired architect with a lifelong interest in photography, works out of Xchanges Gallery’ Crossgrain Photographic Studio, a traditional wet darkroom, in Victoria, B.C. More information about the Canadian artist: gobc.ca/BarryHerringPhotography

Seen and liked: ‘Identity under construction’ by Willie Seo

Willie Seo’s solo exhibition at Xchanges Gallery in Victoria, BC, dealt with issues of identity and its transformation through various media such as photography, sculpture, video installation. His work depicts the daily experiences of living in Canada; his mixed cultural experiences attempt to have a dialogue with the viewers.

W. Seo

 

About Willie Seo:

Seo was born in Seoul, South Korea where he studied photography and worked as a photojournalist. Currently, he is a Canadian citizen who works and resides in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He received his BFA from the University of Victoria where he adopted other media such as sculpture, installation, printmaking, video, and ceramics beside photography.

Seo has had several solo and two-person’s exhibitions in Victoria. He was awarded 2011 and 2012’s Spring Residency at Camosun College; his art works have been displayed at both Lansdowne and Interurban Campuses. In 2013, he was the winner of emerging artists’ exhibition at Leo Koo Gallery in Vancouver.

Photo credit: Daniela Herold 2014

Seen today: ‘Persist’ by Troi Donnelly

by Troi Donnelly

by Canadian Artist Troi Donnelly

‘persist’ is an on-going project committed to constructing new objects from the remnants of an inflatable, vinyl plastic air mattress. The twice constructed word “persist”, as well as an ever-growing pile of fir cones, addresses a state of insistence; a stubbornness that can be interpreted in a negative sense while at the same time implying a sense of optimism.

My colleague Troi Donnelly is showing a sample of her artwork in the Ministry of Casual Living window gallery in downtown Victoria, B.C. until December 31, 2013 (Decade exhibition space on 1407 Government St.)

About the Ministery:

The Ministry of Casual Living in Victoria B.C. is a registered non-profit society and a member of the Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres, exhibiting the works of contemporary emerging and mid-career artists since 2002. Established to provide artists from all disciplines with an accessible venue for experimentation, the MoCL is committed to promoting critical, self-reflective discourse, and integrating the artistic process into all aspects of everyday life.

Tara Juneau – a fiercely individualistic painter

Let me introduce you to Tara Juneau – an exceptional artist, one very committed to her own ideals, her own journey and her own work.

Oil painting by Tara Juneau

Oil painting by Tara Juneau

I recently purchased this painting by Tara, who lives on Vancouver Island. The accomplished painter has won many awards at local art shows and was the youngest artist ever represented by Morris Gallery in Victoria. She studied with Dutch artist Johannes Landman, with the famous Anthony Ryder in Santa Fe, as well as Jeremy Lipking in California.

Tara has been described as fiercely individualistic – and “that is not always easy because the world of Art can be a very critical community and too often ruled by the superficiality of fashion”, says Christine Clark, creator and curator of the Balcony Gallery at XChanges in Victoria.

“Juneau is such a perfectionist that she burns what she describes as her ‘unsuccessful paintings’ in a remote location in Cowichan Bay,” says Christine Clark. “Artists are generally encouraged, and many of us are probably just naturally hardwired, to save (or at least document) every scrap of work, right down to the crumpled life drawing sketches from first-year art class.”

Burning art would be considered by most of us as a rather radical thing to do.

I remember an article in the Guardian about a Naples museum director burning art to protest at lack of funding last year. Himself an artist, he had set fire to one of his own works and then sent photocopies the chair of the European parliament’s culture and education commission, the culture minister in Rome and the regional governor in Naples, warning them of what he intended to do. But none had replied.

Tara Juneau burns her paintings for personal reasons. “Burning them is a very spiritual act for me. I am releasing them, detaching myself from all the time and energy put into them. I paint my feelings and experiences, so it is also like releasing those as well. I think people become too attached to their own ideas and preconceptions of what and how things are and it stops them from growing.”