October 2, 2013 § Leave a comment
Susan Hay, HSTA graduate, is a regular exhibitor in the Haliburton Arts Community. She is inspired by the tranquil, natural wilderness found by her Portage Lake cottage, and along the shorelines of Ontario . She is also well known in Huron County where her paintings are displayed in several spaces. If you haven’t had a chance to see her work, stop into the Ethel Curry Gallery before October 15th to see her solo show!
Since graduating, I have continued to paint mostly landscapes, implementing what I learned in the course. The most important lesson I took away from the HSTA VAF course was a three word message that Rod Prouse wrote on my easel support: “make it dynamic”. I have been emphasizing and simplifying shapes, exaggerating colours, modifying textures and building my own canvases.
When I got home after the VAF course, I summarized what I had learned on paper after looking through my sketchbooks and my notes and then wrote this in point form on my blackboard in my studio. I look at it from time to time to remind myself of various opportunities that I might have overlooked when creating a piece. I have worked steadily over the past couple of years to produce a large body of work from which I could choose the best pieces for my shows at the Blyth Centre for the Arts in August and also the Ethel Curry Gallery this fall. I have also been on the Tour de Forest for three years. I have applied for Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance Grants and have gratefully received grants for each of my shows. I have been building my resume, keeping my website updated and looking for ways to “get my work out there”.
How do you choose the settings for your Haliburton landscape paintings? Do you have any favourite spots in the county?
I have a large file of photos that I have taken over the past 15 years in Haliburton while paddling a canoe with my husband or walking along cottage roads in the fall or visiting Ritchie Falls or the Wildwater Reserve in Minden.
I’d say work hard in your medium until you’ve got a significant body of work and then work hard on marketing and promotion. “Make hay while the sun shines!”
September 18, 2013 § Leave a comment
Have you ever wondered what happens to our incredibly talented VCAD graduates? Where do they go? What do they do? Are they still thinking about us up here in Haliburton? Well, I’ve been talking to VCAD Photo Arts grad Lauren Ogilvie, and she’s answered a few of these pressing questions…
In case you never had the pleasure of meeting Lauren in the hallways, she did the VCAD program in 2011. She uses her work as a form of personal confession and confrontation, enabling her to achieve a stronger sense and acceptance of self. She believes the combination of art and the natural world to be an unstoppable duo of which she is very much a part of. (I got that from her website…you should check it out! www.laurenogilvie.com)
Here’s a look at our conversation:
So Lauren, why did you choose to take the Photo Arts certificate at HSTA?
I chose the photo arts certificate fairly last minute. I was actually enrolled in the fibre arts program and on the final day to confirm courses I had a weird panic and decided I wanted/should do the photo program instead. I always loved taking pictures and when I actually thought about all the work I had done in the VCAD program the year before (heavily photo based) I decided it was a better fit for me.
What was your most memorable experience as a student here? I think finishing a bajillion photo projects in 15 weeks is pretty memorable. Sometimes it felt totally impossible given our timelines but when you find your focus its pretty amazing to see what you (and others) can do. I also really liked having my first art show in a Gallery when I was in VCAD.
What are you doing with photography today, and how has your time at HSTA influenced your current artistic practice?
I’ve been really lucky, all of the work I am doing today is photo based. I work (fairly) full-time as a freelance photo editor for Canadian Business Magazine. On the side I have also been pursuing my own career as a photographer; I have a really random list of clients and jobs that I’ve done (definitely not a one genre kinda gal) so I couldn’t tell you what “kind” of photographer I am but I’m getting there. I’d really like to focus on environmental portraits and photo essays. I’ve also been doing a bit of film and I’m starting to break into the world of interactive book making for tablets. My time at HSTA created my artistic practice…I don’t think I had one before I entered VCAD. I had artistic inclinations and ideas but I really had no idea how to zero in on them. I was totally intimidated (by art making) but HSTA helped me learn how to navigate those thoughts make something useful of them…like art.
While you’re here, check out the Photo Arts video Ogilvie worked on while she was here at HSTA:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q91HWak8UYw
May 16, 2013 § Leave a comment
Visual and Creative Arts Diploma Graduate Hilliary Dunford has launched her business, HilliaryCustomLiving, on Etsy and recently spoke with HSTA about her starting her business and how her experience at HSTA has helped her.
Custom wedding cake toppers, delightful pet sculptures and remarkable house ornaments are just a few of the whimsical treasures offered by HilliaryCustomLiving. Hilliary has built a unique home and keepsake décor business that has captured the imaginations of her customers. Her artistically designed custom keepsake sculptures and ornaments are available exclusively in her Etsy shop. Each one of her creations is painstakingly handcrafted to perfection and makes a memorable keepsake to celebrate life.
While here at Fleming College’s Haliburton School of the Arts, Hilliary studied a wide array of artistic mediums and explored self-expression. She also learned about various artistic techniques from master artisans like Brian Smith and Adrienne Alison. For Hilliary, there is nothing more rewarding than having the ability to touch another person’s life with her artwork. She enjoys all aspects of the creative process from sketching the design, to sculpting it and then finishing it off to perfection.
You completed your Visual and Creative Arts Diploma with the generalist option (completing 14 varied credit courses in the semester immediately after the foundation year), how was that experience?
For sure! I did do the generalist option for VCAD, I personally loved it! It was just enough time for each course to get a small experience of that medium or style of art. I liked how many options you had and all the different types of art I could explore, not to mention how beautiful Haliburton is during the summer months, it’s almost like Mother Nature is giving you inspiration on a silver platter! While doing the summer option I loved meeting all the artistic people from around the world and being taught by amazing self-made artists. It makes your working environment much more relaxed and open, everyone’s ideas just kept feeding off one another till we all we’re proud of our different works.
What are some things that you learned from the VCA diploma program that have stayed with you while you have started your business?
Something that has stayed with me since I started my business was something Dar [Darleen Bolahood, faculty and VCAD coordinator] once said in the beginning of our course “Know whether you’re working for someone or yourself”, now my works are mainly craft, I am creating pieces for others, but I believe I’m doing it for myself more than them. I still work on other art mediums while creating custom pieces for my customers but I get artist block and have a break in between large paintings or sculptures that seem to last months sometimes, so working on my customers pieces keeps me fresh and ready for when inspiration strikes again. Don’t get me wrong, making custom pieces also brings me great joy, I love hearing my customers tell me how much they love their keepsakes because I know it’s something they can treasure for a lifetime with proper care.
How did you happen upon the idea for your shop and your main keepsakes?
My idea for my shop started with being tight on money, we were getting closer to Christmas and I had just gotten engaged, so we were also saving for a wedding at the time. My in-laws were also doing an extension to their home that they had been dreaming of, and my parents had just bought their second home in 15 years! So I wanted to make something for them that would mark these special occasions and started sketching. The idea sort of just came to me and next thing I know I was experimenting with some old clay from VCAD and made my first house ornament. It wasn’t much, but I still have it. Since then I just started making them for houses on the internet that I didn’t even know and was encouraged by my fiancé and family to try and touch others with these keepsakes. I opened my shop on November 12th and made my first sale on November 14th, the satisfaction of knowing someone I never met before wanted something made by my hands has been the inspiration that keeps me working in my studio from sunrise to sundown and I really wouldn’t want it any other way.
My process in creating my keepsakes starts with a sketch of each home so I can catch any angles or small detailing in the image before I start carving. Once I’m done sketching, I start sketching on a rolled out piece of clay the same image then cut it out. From there I carve till I feel I’ve created a slightly 3 dimensional feeling with depth. Once carved I bake them then paint each one by hand, once painted I add their ribbon and they’re ready to ship! In the VCAD program I did explore clay and one of my exhibitions was of 3 dimensional women inside large boxes with only one view point. I did not however explore polymer clay while at VCAD, which is my main material and a little harder to manipulate then the clay I used in the VCAD program.
Is there any advice that you’d like to give other artists/artisans about starting an online business and using Etsy?
If I was to give anyone advice it would be take your time. Don’t rush you artistic process in trying to find an idea to sell. And don’t get discouraged to fast; Rome wasn’t built in a day. Etsy is a wonderful place to even just get your name out there for cheap advertising on your artworks. Even if you don’t want to sell on Etsy, go there to shop for gifts! Support fellow artists over large box companies. You will find unique handmade items that you won’t find anywhere else.
Inspired by the handmade movement, Hilliary enjoys offering her clients the opportunity to preserve their most precious memories with a custom keepsake. Whether it is celebrating a new marriage or the signing of the mortgage on a new home, HilliaryCustomLiving has something for everyone.
Hilliary has found a very comfortable selling niche online. Commitment to customer service and around the clock accessibility are two traits that Hilliary prides herself upon the most. As she continues to build a steady customer base, Hilliary seeks to expand the availability of her line to stores and designer boutiques. For interested buyers and store managers, please use the below contact details to discuss availability with Hilliary personally.
Hilliary Iaiana Elizabeth Dunford
Tel: 705 957 6785
May 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
Clowning: It’s Serious Stuff. Seriously.
Comedy has been around for a very long time: the Ancient Greeks roared with laughter at the masked characters of Aristophanes and Menander, Plautus and Terrence had the Romans rolling in the aisles at their stock characters, court-jesters and fools brought levity to medieval courts, Commedia dell’arte troups entertained the street crowds and royals of the Renaissance.
These characters and clowns were able to mock society, politics, famous people and rulers all under the guise of comedy. If a political commentary was made during a comedy, what would otherwise be treasonous if said by anyone else, became acceptable. And it served a crucial role in the social order.
For thousands of years, it was understood that these characters and clown figures could offer up a mirror to society and through comic lightness and pathos, had access to truths that were otherwise taboo.
Fast forward a few (hundred) years and one person changed that image, that understanding: Bozo. That’s right. The children’s storybook clown. What was once an honoured art form turned into an industry of children’s birthday-party entertainments. (Let’s face it, making kids laugh is a fantastic calling; anyone that can make a child laugh has done a great and wondrous thing… And yet…)
So began a rift in the clown realm: clowns that entertain at birthday parties (think Bozo), and those that pursue its historic traditions (think “Cirque du Soleil”). For the first time in history there was a divide between artistic and inartistic clowns.
This past week, the Haliburton School of The Arts was able to catch up with one of the “traditional-style” artistic clowns and ask her a few questions about her incredible – and much misunderstood – art form.
Haliburton School of The Arts – First and foremost… These days there aren’t a lot of people that grow up with the intention of being a clown (some are clowns, but I think that’s mostly a lack of maturity). When did you realize that this was what you wanted to be? Did it creep into your life? Was it more of a “Eureka!” moment?
Helen Donnelly – I have to say it was more of a creeping in; at first I resisted the artistic life. I wanted the steady teaching job, teaching art and drama. Then I tried my hand at acting and soon was seeking a more physical form of theatre and something with consistency. The gig-to-gig rhythm in the theatre world did not suit me; I wanted to dive into a discipline and devote myself to it entirely. I just never thought it would be theatrical clown!
HSTA – Many artists often are not supported (I don’t mean financially, but morally) when they finally break the news to family and friends that they will not become a lawyer or accountant or doctor… Were the people around you receptive to the idea at first? If not, have they come around since then?
HD – I can only remember my mom’s worried face when I announced I was dropping the idea of going to teacher’s college. I come from a long line of teaching, so I could empathize with her struggle! I’m fortunate that teaching found me eventually and I enjoy the 5 workshops I offer
each year, most of them in Toronto. It makes for an amazing break from the performance rhythm. Now, 20 years later, mom remains supportive and is placated by the steady work that comes my way. But I love to tease her by reminding her friends her daughter is ‘just a clown!’
HSTA – A lot of people associate clowns with funny-coloured wigs and balloon animals. How does your clowning differ from that?
HD – Yes, yes. Short answer is mine is the theatrical form of clown whereby the kind of clown you are alluding to stems from the American Circus clown and then to Bozo and then finally to the current ‘birthday party’ clown. Before Bozo, our art form was laudable, theatrical, and would never be seen on tv or in the privacy of people’s living rooms. Bozo (based on a book by the way) changed all of that. I like to refer to him as a ‘virus’, which spread throughout North America in the 50s and 60s till it reached places like Europe and South America. Now, sadly, it’s all a big mess. It’s a horrible time in history to be a theatrical clown.
HSTA – With the creation and subsequent success of Cirque du Soleil in recent years, have you noticed a marked difference in “clowning”. All puns aside, are people starting to take it more seriously?
HD – Well, not really. The ‘virus’ has a stranglehold on most North Americans. When I toured as a clown with Cirque du Soleil for almost 2 years, some people would come up to me after the show and ask me if I could come perform at their kid’s party…or they would walk right by, like we’re a dime a dozen. The public’s taste for clown has been sullied and I don’t know if we will ever recover. (I’m a laugh a minute, aren’t I?!) But I do feel that at the very least with companies like Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Eloise, Circus Orange, Theatre Columbus and Theatre Smith/Gilmour…at least there is a new reference out there for clown. It may make a difference in the long run.
HSTA – What is your favourite aspect of clowning? Is it the interactions with people? Helping people laugh? Taking on different personas? Something else entirely?
HD – It’s all of those, but most of all, I am most ‘me’ when I’m clowning. I don’t feel fully alive till I’m ‘in nose’, as strange as that may sound. I can’t explain it any other way and I feel so lucky and strangely cursed at the same time!
HSTA – How did you create your different clown personalities (all 5!)? Are they based on people you’ve encountered or were you inspired by any works of literature? Do any of them contain pieces of you?
HD – One is a hybrid (character/clown—‘Daisy’) who speaks English and is an autograph hound. She has some aspects of me but mostly I created her for Cirque when I first toured with them. The rest–Foo, Miss Posey, Mildred and Dr Flap(my healthcare persona)—are 100% rooted in me. My training is rooted in authenticity; I AM the material. The idea is to be honest with your audience; what is more honest than to be yourself, but show and reveal MORE of yourself? I like to say clowning is you…times 10! It’s life…times 10!
HSTA – How is clowning different than acting, for example? In both, you are required to take on different characters and both are certainly performance art. But does clowning bring any new challenges with it? Is there anything that’s easier? (ie no lines to memorize?)
HD – With clown there is no 4th wall, meaning we see and interact with our audience directly. We do not pretend they are not there. Also, even if there is a script (for example my one-woman clown gibberish musical goes up June 1 and 2nd; there is a script), the clown can ‘leave’ the script for a moment in order to ‘deal’ with an audience member. My favourite moments are latecomers to the show. I love giving them a particularly hard time! It’s funny, and honest and a great release for all. Bonus is, those people will never be late again! The other major difference is actors ‘play’ a character, clowns are ‘playing’ themselves. It’s the art of gently mocking and celebrating who you are, and not being precious and guarded. It takes a very brave, secure person to train in clown in my opinion.
HSTA – Did you grow up in a household where laughter was important? Has it always been something that comes naturally to you?
HD – Yeah, I did. We were constantly looking for ways to make each other laugh. I was the stereotypical ‘middle child’, vying for attention constantly. Humour developed very early. Growing up in a rural setting also ensured an insanely evolved fantasy life. And as a family we’d listen to old Hancock records or watch Laurel and Hardy or Lucille Ball on TV and Danny Kaye movies….I was very very lucky to be exposed to such great clown geniuses from such a young age!
HSTA – Dr. Patch Adams gained widespread renown for the ’98 movie of the same title for his experimental “laughter-is-the-best-medicine” style of practice. Since 2004, you have been working as a therapeutic clown; first at SickKids Hospital and currently at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Do you think he’s on to something? Have you noticed any marked improvements in patients over the years that have experienced the healing power of laughter? Are there any cases that stand out for you personally?
HD – I like to separate my practice from that of Patch Adams for one very important reason: he is a medical doctor who donned the nose as a tool to relate to his clients better, whereas therapeutic clown artists use the art of clown as trained actors/artistic clowns as a tool to serve clients in healthcare. That said, there is a lot to be said for people who are fortunate enough to work as a clown in healthcare. I have a plethora of stories I could tell you about what I’ve witnessed or heard from other staff members who witness the work we do. Because we are Canada’s largest rehabilitation hospital for children, we often work in tandem with staff (nurses, OTs, PTs, Child Life Specialists) to help achieve team goals as well as working in duo with clients—to play for play’s sake. It would be impossible to pick just one story…the benefits are most often immediate and obvious.
But one unique thing I’m very proud of is our involvement with research in 2010. The challenge: Hospitalized children with profound disabilities can’t show or tell us if they’re benefiting from interaction with therapeutic clowns. The solution: A Bloorview team designs the first study to measure the long-term physiological effect of therapeutic clowns. Scientists measured physiological arousal, emotion and behaviour in eight inpatients. The results were so exciting! Every child showed unique patterns of skin temperature, sweat level and heart and breathing rates during clown visits that are not seen while watching television. Behavioural and emotional data suggest the children’s physiological responses to the clowns are positive. We were interviewed by CTV and since then I’ve shared our findings globally. They are published in a medical journal. That was a thrill!
HSTA – Do you have any advice for aspiring clowns? Is there anything people should be aware of before they decide to start clowning?
Those who look to clowning as a second career should know it will be a long road, and longer if there is very little artistic background and training. The art of clown, no matter where you apply it (healthcare, on stage, in the circus) involves ‘hard skills’…there is a strange assumption out there that if you have a good heart and love children you can pull it off with very little training (I think this is not their fault…again, I blame Bozo!). People like that are a little naïve and those who do it anyway with no training are a little scary. There is too much that can go wrong. So, advice for those who want to do it professionally? Proceed with caution and get great advice from those who know.
HSTA – You have a workshop coming up at the Haliburton School of The Arts this July 23rd – July 27th. What sort of things can people expect to take away with them from this workshop?
HD – It’s the kind of workshop that is very unique; it’s a mix of playful exercises, solo and group work, intro to stage. Students will be going on this personal journey of discovering who their clown is and at the same time sharing this journey with others in the class. So very private and very public at the same time. People take this workshop for many reasons, but sometimes the best reason is not knowing why they are taking it! I have been lucky in the students I’ve been honoured to teach over the last 8 years at Haliburton. They have been extremely generous and supportive of each other which, at its heart, is what clown is all about.♦
For more information about Helen Donnelly, or to contact her, please visit her website at www.helendonnelly.com
To learn more about this course, or to register, please contact the Haliburton School of The Arts at www.hsta.ca or 1-866-353-6464 x3
May 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
Growing up, art has always been an integral part of Matthew’s life – that and dreams of one day playing professional baseball. During his early teens Matthew spent his summers on house league and competitive teams, but as it started to get more serious, the fun seemed to slip away. The fun from drawing all his favorite comic book characters, however, never did. Although making millions of dollars batting a ball around was attractive, playing with pencils and paints seemed to take precedence.
Was it the right choice? Probably.
After attending an arts high school Matthew Mancini went on to study in the fine arts program at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. However, after his first trip to Italy, it became clear that traditional figurative and landscape work was something he wanted to explore. OCAD leaned more towards the conceptual and abstract aspect of art which did not appeal to him.
Upon his return, he left OCAD after completing two years to pursue a more classical realist approach that led him on a six-year study at a private atelier in Toronto of the techniques used in the 19th Century ateliers of Paris, France; those of which are based on trade secrets handed down since the Renaissance. Much of his work seeks to return to the archival craftsmanship of the old masters, as well as the humanist principles found throughout past movements of art. Most influential to his work are the paintings of John Singer Sargent, Joachim Sorolla, Zorn, Ilya Repin, Kramskoi, Rembrandt, Monet, and Annigoni to name a few, where the techniques of each combine to find their way into his own paintings.
Having a foremost interest in portraiture, landscape painting has become increasingly of interest. With Matthew’s spouse getting work in Minden, Ontario, in 2011, the move has given him ample opportunity and inspiration that Toronto can’t offer in the same way. The Canadian landscape is some of the best in the world and with formal portrait paintings taking anywhere from 1 to 3 months, the immediacy of landscape painting is quite satisfying. Becoming part of the Fleming College community in the fall of 2011 has been a great experience for Mancini as well, teaching workshop courses, and soon to be joining the talented roster of the Visual Arts Fundamentals: Drawing and Painting instructors.
This summer he will be attending ‘Art in Action’ in London, England: an annual event in which artists set up their studio and work while onlookers interact with them. Artists travel from across the UK and, in celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee, from commonwealth countries, as well. This event attracts more than 25,000 visitors over four days, and Matthew will have the honor of representing Canada.
Matthew’s days are spent learning, painting and teaching, as well as preparing works for upcoming events.
He can be reached via his website at http://www.matthewmanciniart.com/
Matt will be teaching summer art courses at HSTA, as well as courses at the Peterborough campus in the fall:
Painting – Design & Composition, July 9-13
Figure in the Landscape, Aug 13-17
Portraiture Workshop, Oct 27th, 9am – 5pm, Peterborough Campus
For more information on the courses including course descriptions, please go to http://flemingcollege.ca/school/haliburton-school-of-the-arts#course-calendar
April 26, 2012 § 5 Comments
A deep and gentle voice recounts to me this incredible story. Its soothing rhythm and pitch have no doubt stood this inspiring man in good stead as he helped people through various periods in their lives, good and bad, performing his ministerial duties.
It is not his unfailing lifelong dedication to helping others, though, that will be the subject of this article. Instead, this article will touch upon the incredibly lucky turn of events that united this outstanding sculptor with his passion for soapstone carving, and helped to shape one of the most down-to-earth artists I’ve ever met…
Born and raised in London, England, it was no secret that Kim Warne would never grow up to be an artist. His art teachers never ceased to tell him that he lacked ability. Warne recalls one assignment in particular that he was required to paint: “Nelson’s Fleet”, showing the great tall-masted ships of Nelson himself. Perhaps he was ahead of his time, perhaps he was simply unappreciated for his ability to think outside-the-box, but needless to say, Kim’s rendition was not well received. He’d painted a grey smudgy background with a few vertical sticks poking through it with the familiar red, white, and blue of the British Ensign proudly snapping in the wind. The piece was titled “Nelson’s Fleet in a Fog”. Anyone who’s ever been to London on a foggy day would likely understand the accuracy of Warne’s depiction. Sadly, it did not win him any favours with his instructor.
As a young adolescent, he and his family braved the war years in London. Even today, he is still able to recall the horrors of the bombings that rocked his city to its foundations. At age fourteen, shortly after the war, he and his family moved away from London, across the ocean to a country kept safe only by its inaccessibility: Canada.
Due to his sporadic education during the war, Kim had a nearly insurmountable challenge before him: catch up to his peers in school. While he excelled in English and the Humanities, his poor showing in mathematics and science were a chore to get through. Most notably, though, was perhaps his art education: after only a mere three weeks of classes, Warne’s father received a call from the art teacher – a call that would not only change the course of Kim’s life, but also destroyed any chance of the budding artist inside reaching its potential.
In short, the art teacher explained that Kim had no skill in drawing. Unless he dropped the course, the young Warne would stand no shot of gaining entrance to university down the road. The course was dropped, another Humanities was picked up, and Kim’s skill in art was all but forgotten.
The next fifty years consisted only of art appreciation. Not even his children’s school projects could coax the crushed artistic spirit of Kim Warne from the deep, dark, place of rejection from his high school days.
It wasn’t until, approaching retirement, his artistic wife Wilma forced him to find a hobby that he began searching for his niche.
He already knew that drawing and painting were not for him. A lackluster experience in stained glass convinced him that melted sand and hot lead were also not in his future. By pure happy coincidence, a friend of his invited Kim over to try his hand at stone carving. Armed with some spare tools and a piece of stone, Warne set-to with a will…
“There’s excitement that comes of creating something out of a boulder – the boulder looks ugly – but there’s something beautiful inside it,” he explains.
One of his mentors, a renown Inuit sculptor, would encourage him and urge him to perfect his technique and figures. Looking at Warne’s pieces, he would turn them over in his hand and would make suggestions, inspiring Kim to seek out areas for improvement. At one point, his mentor was looking at a piece, turning it about. Warne was sure he was going to spot some flaw that he’d overlooked. Instead, his mentor spoke the five greatest words for any artist to hear, “That is a piece of art.”
His initial subjects were the loons and bears of the Canadian Wilderness. His style is recognizable as minimalist, but by no means lifeless; in his eyes, the animals should appear as if they could just get up and walk away at any moment, despite their sleek finish . Warne has since branched out into inuksuit, whales and dolphins, and even frogs. The penguins happened along after an inspirational visit to the Falklands Kim and wife, Wilma, took a few years ago; they waddled into his collection this past winter. He has also begun creating a unique line of “Comfort” statues: a mother cradling a child, but with the child offering comfort to the mother as well.
In 2004, Warne’s work was selected to be given to 26 delegates of a week-long international NATO conference. Close upon the heels of this incredible honour, Kim was nominated to the International Guild of Master Craftsmen in 2006. It was a juried selection that took place in London, England, and was hosted by a customer already possessing eight or nine of Warne’s pieces. More recently, Canadian soldiers who travelled to Holland to celebrate the liberation of the Dutch nation after the Second World War took various pieces as thank you gifts for their host families.
Over the course of the last decade and a half, Warne’s work has been shown across the country and has been displayed in various galleries. His award-winning sculptures are spread out across the globe in Germany, Australia, Holland, Norway, England… Every year, they travel slightly farther afield and find some new remote corner of the globe to reside in.
There is no denying how humble he is about his work either. “It’s a real pleasure to have people want to have your work in their home,” he confides. No customer is taken for granted.
While he may have slowed down slightly in the last couple of years, he is still very much enjoying every moment of carving. The idyllic setting of his studio, overlooking Minnicock Lake, certainly inspires.
For more information about Kim Warne’s work and his studio Soundings: Discoveries in Stone & Fabric (in partnership with Wilma), please go to www.soapstonecarvings.com
April 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
How do you define achievement?
Is it by grabbing the nearest yardstick? Collecting the most “Likes” on facebook? Perhaps graduating Magna cum laude from Harvard?
How about the moment when you actually hear someone else call you an artist? That is what it took for this week’s artist, Alec Morrison, to finally title himself “artist”.
Raised in the bilingual – English & French – and multi-cultural town of Haileybury, Morrison was introduced to both French-Canadian and Native American influences at a very young age. Born and raised in this picturesque area just north of the Temagami, he grew up with a profound appreciation for hand-made and hand-crafted goods.
His colourful musical career began early as well. From the tender age of seven he has played piano; a few years later, at age thirteen, he picked up his first guitar. His upbringing consisted primarily of Blues music, but with the advent of his budding guitar talents, his tastes shifted to punk bands like the Sex Pistols, NoFX, and Operation Ivy.
“Nowadays,” he admits, “I’ve moved into an extremely eclectic mix of stuff, and also Celtic rhythms.” As an afterthought he adds, “And also old country music.” He smiles at his own taste. (For a taste of his music, head here => http://itunes.apple.com/au/album/already-been-where-i-was-goin…/id442130024 )
The ushering-in of the new millenium not only marked an important calendar-change, but also a turning point for Morrison’s own path: he left high school to play in the punk band Bayl out of London, Ontario. When the band broke up, his itchy feet took him to the western reaches of the country where he spent nearly four years off and on, moving between Port Alberni, B.C. and Canmore, Banff, and Calgary, Alberta. “The mountains are beautiful,” recalls Morrison, “and the river water is a crazy hue of blue. [My] first time there, I kept looking over my shoulder to look at the view of the mountains. It was a great vibe.”
Unfortunately, during his adventures out West, Alec’s mental health broke down and he was diagnosed as bi-polar. Unstable for a long period of time, paranoid and delusional, it was some time before he got help. Admitted to the psychiatric ward, Morrison came to terms with his illness and was released, only to be institutionalized again several months later. He spent close to four years in and out of mental health care facilities as he grappled with his own demons.
“Manias are incredibly dangerous – if severe enough – it’s an incredibly complicated, and underrated, sometimes ignored, illness… I’ve gotten to a point where I can manage it, thankfully… and I can reflect on the experience, and create with that energy. But it’s a forever kind of thing, I have lots of people helping me.”
Morrison proudly shares that he’s been both healthy and stable now for seven years; a milestone for anyone who spent more than half that time in and out of hospitals.
But it wasn’t until after this point in Alec’s life that he developed an interest in visual art. During a search for an artist capable of drawing a loon for a tattoo, he came across renown Native Artist Hugh Mackenzie of Bear Island. During the five months of lessons, he learned a great variety of techniques from stencil to sponge, but most importantly he learned a great deal about life.
With a renewed passion in music and art, he started the band Crank Radio in 2005, which lasted up until 2009. His interest in blacksmithing grew out of his drive for self-sufficiency. Intent on pursuing a craft that he could work on during the day when not making music, Morrison was first intrigued by the concept that he could create his own tools with nothing but a hammer, tongs, anvil and forge fire. That Christmas, he asked for a couple of books on blacksmithing. The pages of these books did nothing but whet his whistle, and, rather than sating his curiosity, served only to pique it. “I got into the subject really deep. I found the science behind metallurgy fascinating and the method too…” he tells us. “A couple years after that, my dad told me that a course was being offered at Fleming, so I enrolled.” Nearly through the course, he was forced to withdraw due to a health scare. “Unfortunately, my health wasn’t great, and I missed a lot of school; I might try it a second time in the future.” Lucky for us, he stayed in the program long enough to create some beautiful works of art.
“It was only a couple of months ago that I realized I was an artist. I asked my girlfriend what she told people I did for a living, and she said “that you’re an artist”.” Calling himself an artist offers him the freedom to be his own boss and to constantly create whether writing poetry, sculpting in plaster, or shaping hot metal with a hammer…
His parting random fact was admitting that he wears kilts. “It’s a Scottish heritage thing, and if Ashley MacIsaac can get away with it, so can I. The way I see it is: if you can’t wear a kilt at a punk show in Canada, then the terrorists have already won.” He offers up a brief chuckle. But the kilt stays on…
Make sure you come to HSTA’s I Made It! Spring Show ‘n Sale. Alec has graciously offered to provide musical entertainment: Saturday, April 21st, 10am – 2pm at the Haliburton Campus.
To view his mini-documentary titled “Already Been Where I Was Going”, filmed at the old North Bay Psychiatric Hospital, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vNRluaMOv0&feature=related
For more information on mental health, visit http://www.cmha.ca/bins/index.asp
To learn more about any of the programs at the Haliburton School of The Arts, please go to www.hsta.ca
April 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
There’s no denying that this week’s Artist of the Week, Natasha Torunsky, is a powerhouse packed into a tiny frame. Her petite figure, however, is no reflection of her exuberant energy and optimistic outlook; both of which she brings in copious amounts into her studio.
Never having taken photography in high school – only visual art – she had lucked out with a part-time job at Black’s. Wanting to gain more exposure and knowledge about photography, she came to the Haliburton School of The Arts. “It’s remote and surrounded by forest, which makes it nice and peaceful,” she explains, “I adore the location.”
Specializing in weddings, engagements, family portraits, model portfolios and maternity shots, Natasha also likes to explore nature. She reveals that she’s a bit of a fair-weather sailor though, and shoots outside primarily only in the summer.
She has a remarkable ability to bring out the best in her client’s portraits. Better still, she succeeds in capturing the innate beauty of her subjects. Her distinct knack for exposing the real smiles – not the frigid, frozen poses of department store portraits – sets her work apart.
Her business, Natasha Torunsky Photography, has been running since 2008 and has been gaining ground ever since. To see more of her work, please visit her site at www.wix.com/natasha_torunsky/natasha
Natasha can be contacted via phone at 705-344-3955 or by email at Natasha_torunsky@hotmail.com