The newest show at the Chapel Gallery in Bracebridge, called ‘the Contingent Body’ will bring together the work of painter Carol Pollock and sculptor Donna Brock in an exploration of the figure in paint and stone and some of the approaches it can inspire.
This exhibition opens at the Chapel on Saturday 23rd with a public reception between 1 and 4pm.
”My part of the show comprises figurative studies that offer a range from subtle abstraction to full-on representation – Holding Apples is one of the most abstract pieces in the collection, whereas many others such as Home Guard have evolved in a more representational manner. I let them self-determine as I go along”, says Pollock.
”My contribution to the show consists of stone sculptures presenting human forms emerging in various degrees of abstraction,”, remarks Brock. ”Promise, a moderately representational pregnant female form of gentle pink soapstone, leads to Promises, a large abstract suggesting multiple female pregnant forms in green-gray Appalachia soapstone. Advance, a small male torso emerging from white dolomite contrasts sharply with Suffering, a large male torso of gnarled orange and white alabaster.”
Pollock has always drawn and remembers her mother drawing at the kitchen table. When Nipissing University began offering fine-art classes in Bracebridge, she jumped at the opportunity to further her knowledge and skill. Works by painters Pollock sees in museums and online provides her with inspiration but more recently, it has been images from the past that she can relate to and that reflect the human condition.
“I have a cache of ever-growing images from which I choose something that I find intriguing; often they are of women or children, explains Pollock. She begins by usually draw on a primed and toned canvas using the photographic images as a reference and then begins to paint. ”Throughout the process, I am drawing then painting then drawing again until the image resolves itself, she explains. “It is an ongoing exploration. My mantra comes from Picasso: Every piece is research. My aim is always to try to convey the ideas I have about my chosen subject matter how it reflects the broader human condition and to expand my artistic vocabulary.”
Brock is a 4th generation stone carver through the men on her fathers side of the family.
“Spending time with my dad at the stone shop was special, as he answered my questions about all the processes and equipment being used, she recalls. ”Interestingly, my father tried to discourage me from pursuing stone carving and I didnt take it up until after he passed away. I think he would have enjoyed my work. I know I would like to have shared it with him, reveals Donna who honed her skills at the Haliburton School of Art & Design where she completed a one-month intensive stone carving course in 2004 and then a sculpture certificate program in figurative and representational work in the spring of 2008.”
When Brock begins a new sculpture, its the chicken-and-egg question which comes first, the idea or the piece of stone?
“Once I have both the stone and the idea, I remove the excess stone by the easiest means possible”, she explains. Reductive sculpting is a bit tricky as once the stone is gone, theres no replacing it. To remove the stone, she uses the tools of the trade hand and power tools, angle grinders, air hammers and sometimes a hammer and chisel. After roughing out the shape, a series of files and rifflers are used to refine the shape and remove tool marks. Then, hours of hand sanding creates a smooth, highly polished finish.
Besides being brutally demanding physically, stone carving is really dirty work and there is absolutely nothing dainty about it, says Brock. ”My greatest challenge is to be in tune with the type of stone Im working with, understanding what it is capable of and the type of tools I need to coax the intended sculpture out of it.”
Both artists hope to connect with the viewers.
“I work from found photographic images and I think most people can find themselves or someone they know in these forgotten moments. I hope they can appreciate the transformation that takes place when they are explored in paint, explains Pollock.
“My hope would be that viewers experience some visceral response to my work, preferably a positive one but a negative one is acceptable too, states Brock. ”It would mean that something in my work touched them deep inside, not just a cerebral response or intellectual calculation of the works meaning. I want them to feel something! I want them to have a relationship with my sculpture from the core of their being.”
The Contingent Body opens with a public reception on Saturday, July 23 from 1pm until 4pm. The Contingent Body continues at the Chapel Gallery until August 13.
The Chapel Gallery is located at 15 King Street in Bracebridge. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm until 5pm with admission by donation.
For more information, please visit www.muskokaartsandcrafts.com or call (705) 645-5501.
(Photos: The Red Cowl, by Carol Pollock & Dancer, by Donna Brock)