Do you remember my post about the Diana F+ camera? Well guess what...for Christmas my lovely man friend bought me a Diana Mini! I recently had my first few rolls of film developed and I’d love to show you my results. The first thing I should tell you is that these were really just practice rolls. Also, the reason why it took me so long to share this with you is because my second roll took 60 photos. Crazy! The nature of the Diana is that every camera is unique in the fact that they create differing effects. This is why you need to discover the distinct nature of your Diana. For whatever reason, the photos I took were double exposed which resulted in a fusion of two images into one frame. Unfortunately, many of my photos were black as I have not acquired a flash yet. I hope to gain some understanding of how my little camera works with every developed roll.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
The other day, I received a message from my sister, who works as a teacher in Oman. Because the Middle East is several hours ahead of the West Coast of Canada, she had already visited Google’s homepage when I was still asleep. She asked me about Maria Sibylla Merian, a 17th century Swiss naturalist and scientific illustrator, whose 366th birthday was honoured in a google doodle. I’ve always appreciated botanical illustration but over the past year I have grown to love this wonderful art form. I guess my interest in this genre began when I studied Dürer in school. I am perhaps fascinated by realist renditions of nature because I love imagery of flora and fauna however I am captured by the incredible skill of the artist’s hand.
Maria was born in Frankfurt in 1647 to a Swiss engraver and publisher Matthäus Merian the Elder. Shortly after his passing, Maria’s mother married the still life painter, Jacob Marrel. He encouraged her to paint and draw during her adolescence which led her to find inspiration in the naturalistic beauty of insects. She was initially interested in silk worms but later documented caterpillars and their inevitable metamorphosis into butterflies and moths.
In her later years as a mother and wife, Maria continued her artistic endeavours and even work with parchment and linen in creating designs for embroidery. To help support her family, she taught drawing and painting lessons to wealthy young women which subsequently gave her access to their families vast and abundant gardens. For two years, beginning in 1699, Maria fulfilled her lifelong dream to travel throughout Suriname to collect specimens and paint and draw local plants and insects. Upon her return to Europe, she published a collection of engravings of her findings in South America.
As a 17th century female artist and botanist, Maria managed to scientifically and artistically accomplish what most contemporary women only hope to (though she received more appreciation and popularity in the 20th century). Because insects were believed to be ‘beasts of the devil’ and to have been ‘born of mud’, little scientific information had been collected at that time. Her unusual passion and desire to document the life cycle of nearly 200 insects defied this common attitude and subsequently helped in scientific advancement of Germanic Europe. As I move forward in my academic and professional career, I only hope to accomplish a fraction of what Maria did. Her work is encouraging me to find meaning in my own and to create projects that ultimately benefit my society.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
If you follow me on instagram and twitter, you must know that I have been obsessing over a turn of the century Victoria artist. My lust for the mysterious Sophie Pemberton began not two weeks ago when I started helping out the librarian and archivist at the AGGV. In the old attic of the mansion, are countless projects waiting for some much needed organization. Because I immediately gravitated towards the old photographs, she assigned me the slightly daunting task of creating some sort of order out of hundreds of photos. Many of the photos document the early years of mansion itself, the original families that lived there before it was converted into an art gallery, as well as historic local artists and their artworks.
Left alone in a tiny corner office with a bright lamp, a hot radiator, and a lovely view of the blustery day, I began leafing through the photographs. At first I was overwhelmed and unsure of how to organize them. After a short while, I noticed that I continued to come across images of one particular woman. While some of the photos were marked with S.P. on the back, other were marked as Sophie Beanlands and Sophie Deane-Drummond. After reading through some books and some online research, I discovered that Sophie Pemberton, also known under her married names, was the woman in the photographs.
Sophie was a young artist who grew up in the Rockland area, not far from the gallery itself. She was born in Victoria in 1869 to one of the first Surveyor-Generals of Vancouver Island and a Hudson’s Bay Company executive, Joseph Despard Pemberton. Because her family was well off, she was able to travel to Europe and attend the prestigious Académie Julian in Paris (I was excited upon discovering this as one of my favourite artists, Maria Bashkirtseva also attended this academy). There, Sophie was able to study painting and drawing during a time when this profession was largely male dominated. Upon completing her studies, she moved to London. Her work was eventually exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon. She was also the first Canadian, and as far as I know the first female, to receive the Prix Julian from Paris's Académie Julian for her portrait of Little Boy Blue in 1899.
Despite her talent and her promising career, there is little biographical information available on Sophie. Due to the social pressures she endured, she married and was eventually forced to abandon her artistic endeavours. Some say that she may have been as famous and as appreciated as her contemporary, Emily Carr, had she continued on. For now, I will take it upon myself to properly represent her as I organize the photographs of her family, her friends, her artworks, and of course the woman herself.
If you would like to read more about her, I located a master thesis written by Nicholas Tuele (a former curator at the AGGV) in 1980, another Sophie enthusiast. I cannot however include a link. Type in Sophie Pemberton and Tuele and a pdf will pop up in your search engine.
Until next time.....
Sunday, March 17, 2013
*This article is also featured on the Metchosin Art Gallery Blog.
After envisioning Fair Fauna: A Benefit for WildARC with the Metchosin Art Gallery Chief Curator, Richard Wong fearlessly marched down to the WildARC Rehabilitation centre and proposed their wonderful idea for the show. With a positive reception, the group exhibition was then quickly assembled.
Wong, a dynamic Victoria-based watercolour painter, surprisingly only began painting two years ago after his retirement from the B.C. Provincial Government. While he is mainly self-taught, he has taken select classes centred on Western standards in watercolour and the traditional art of Chinese brushwork. While he combines the two differing methods, he exclusively uses Chinese brushes on masa paper. This textured medium creates more naturalistic interest and painterly depth. He calls his fused artistic approach, Oriental Brush and Watercolour.
|'Raccoon'-Image taken from http://www.richardwongwatercolors.ca/|
In defining his artistic source, Wong often draws inspiration from his natural surroundings. One of his most recent paintings, Raccoon (which received an Honourable Mention for 10th spot in the 3rd Annual International Art Competition, “Light, Space, Time” Online Gallery), was painted from a spontaneous photograph taken by his wife in his backyard. In using an image or a real-life source, Wong is able to interpret the dynamism of his subject. In Peacock, he creates an interplay of the bird’s differing postures, based on a peacock from Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park Petting Zoo.
While Wong’s paintings exhibited in Fair Fauna illustrate a minimalist rendition of the subject, the presence of white space on the page engages the viewer further into the subject. His soft handling of brushwork and layers of colour are evocative of naturalistic form, texture, colour, and depth. His striking works not only demonstrate his mastery of his traditional craft but also his ability to portray realism within an abstract form.
Visit http://www.richardwongwatercolors.ca/ to view his artist's website.
|Richard Wong standing in front of his paintings at the Metchosin Art Gallery February 2013 - Photo by Jaime Lynn Clifton|
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
To give you a little background on the review in which I published in my previous post, here is a promotional article I wrote for the Gallery.
*Please note, this article was originally published in the March issue of Metchosin Muse.
The beauty and abundance of Vancouver Island is not only distinguished by picturesque ocean landscapes and snow peaked mountains but also the magical wildlife that inhabit our lush woodlands. Instinctively, many Canadian artists find creative inspiration in the animals that inhabit our natural world. In using a variety of mediums and methods, local artists express their distinct perspectives of our breathtaking wildlife. Fair Fauna: A Benefit for Wild ARC, exhibited at The Metchosin Art Gallery, will remind viewers to not only respect and protect our wildlife but to also encourage artistic viewership and personal interpretation.
|Promotional image from the MAG website|
Wild ARC, a 10 acre rehabilitation centre located in the heart of Metchosin, was built in 1997 by the BC SPCA to house injured and orphaned animals. Due to the nature of the organization, it was established as a separate branch in 2002 as it only houses wild animals that will eventually be re-released into the wild. This wonderful animal-loving community has treated over 22,000 deserving patients and will continue to protect, preserve, and rehabilitate more with your help. The MAG’s Fair Fauna intends to raise awareness as well as funds for this neighbouring non-profit organization. Through the generosity of the community, Wild ARC can provide special care, medical supplies, food, and housing for their special patients.
Fair Fauna, exhibiting the diverse works of dozens of south island artists, features exceptional paintings, sculptures, photographs, and drawings. By including such diverse artists as Rachel Evans, Ashely Bowes, Richard Wong, and Jim Jenkins.Fair Fauna encourages a range in interpretation from both its artists and viewers. In addressing the scope of artistic representation of animals and the biodiversity of the south island, the MAG intends to promote awareness of the varying needs of our beloved wildlife. Please join your community from February 28th-March 31st, 2013 at the MAG in support of our furry and feathered friends at Wild ARC.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Situated in the old Metchosin Elementary School library is the wonderfully charming Metchosin Art Gallery (MAG). This newly established non-profit organization has exhibited numerous works by local artists since its opening in August of 2012. The latest show, Fair Fauna: A Benefit for WildARC, was curated by the talented Hailey Finnigan and features a variety of artworks that centre around the majestic wildlife of the Northwest Coast. The opening celebration, held on Saturday, March 2nd, drew a tremendous crowd in support of the animals and the arts of Metchosin. Through sales of the exhibited artworks, the MAG will raise funds in support of the BC SPCA’s WildARC rehabilitation centre, located in the heart of Metchosin. Reaching nearly $600 at the opening reception, the MAG is close to achieving its goal of $1000 for the care of WildARC animals. This exhibit has garnered much attention in the community and even caught the eye of renowned Canadian artist, Robert Bateman, who donated a print in support of the cause.
|Original Photo by Jaime Lynn Clifton|
The curated collection of artworks exhibited in Fair Fauna portray varying artistic interpretations of wildlife and their abundant surroundings. Though the show features a range in medium and method, it is cohesive in subject and spirit. Expressive preying eagles soar across the gallery walls while a modest nesting of Russian owl dolls dwell below. Birds, seals, and rabbits mingle through paint, charcoal and ink while a pairing of delightful fox and sheep head masks emerge from the walls. The back of the room displays a traditional salon-style grouping of vibrant paintings that evoke wildlife in full daylight while a juxtaposing wall of greyscale drawings, prints, and photographs are suggestive of wildlife in the night. In uniting differing works, Fair Fauna echoes the biodiversity of our lush West Coast locale.
|Original Photo by Jaime Lynn Clifton|
With over twenty visual artists, this show also illustrates a diverse range in subject, scale, and interpretation. UVic Visual Arts graduate and WildARC volunteer Rachel Evans, reanimates old and dusty taxidermy animals through watercolour and ink. Fourth year UVic visual artist Ashley Bowes, combines gestural layers of pencil crayon, graphite, acrylic, and ink on canvas to illustrate birds and rats. Trish Shwart fuses drawing with photography in her breathtaking depiction of a Dürer-esque rabbit. Victoria Emerging Artist, Nic Vandergugten, conceals a tiny racoon between majestic towering trees in a linocut print while tintype photographer Ken Miner depicts the real-life falcon Loki, who received treatment at WildARC. Painter Richard Wong, who helped curator Finnigan develop the show, has impressively been in practice for only two years. He masterfully combines elements of Western and Chinese watercolour brushwork in his picturesque avian and racoon paintings. While these are a select few of the artists who have graciously provided their works to this wonderful cause, there are many more whose works animate this white-cube gallery. In a world that is facing tremendous environmental challenges, it is comforting to witness a supportive community who love and care for their wildlife.
This show will run until March 31st, 2013. Visit www.metchosinartgallery.ca for details.
Be sure to stop by the gallery on Saturday, March 16th at 1:30 for a lecture on the biodiversity of Metchosin by Kem Luther.
|Original Photo by Jaime Lynn Clifton|
*This article was originally published on the Metchosin Art Gallery Website.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
After a long break from blogging, I have finally decided to make more time for writing. I was recently accepted into graduate school and considering the time that has passed since I last stepped foot in a classroom, it seems very necessary to exercise my research and writing skills. I intend on spending the next six months prepping for school. Because I am filling my days with reading, writing, and volunteering, I intend on sharing my progress with you.
I have recently begun helping out at the non-profit rural art gallery a little outside of my city. This white-cube space was only opened in August but has already seen a tremendous amount of success. Considering I already volunteer at a larger downtown gallery, this space will give me the opportunity to learn a wider range of skills. My first task was to write a promotional article for the local newspaper. I will definitely provide a link to that piece once it has been released.
For now, I will leave you with some lovely vintage animal and botanical images from http://vintageprintable.com/wordpress/vintage-printable-botanical-2/botanical-low-color/.
Until next time!