Graduate Profile – Susan Hay

October 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

susan-hay

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!

Tell us about life after graduating from Haliburton School of The Arts! What did you learn from the Drawing and Painting Certificate program that has stayed with you during your current practice?

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.

haliburton-splash

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”.

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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.

halliburton-lake-roadYou currently have a very successful show on at the Ethel Curry Gallery in town. Is there any advice that you’d like to give other artists/artisans about pursuing a career in Haliburton County?

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!”

rocky-point-canoe

If you’d like to see more of Susan’s work, check out her website at www.SusanHay.ca, or consider purchasing a painting at www.made-in-haliburton.ca/ !

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Graduate Profile – Lauren Ogilvie

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…

Self Portrait - Barachois QC

Lauren Ogilvie – Self Portrait, Barachois QC

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.

Recognize any of these ladies? Lauren took this promo shot for the Highland Roller Girls

Recognize any of these ladies? Lauren took this promo shot for the Highland Roller Girls

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.

Shot for a Gourmet Greek Yogurt Shop opening in Toronto called "Astarte"

Shot for a Gourmet Greek Yogurt Shop opening in Toronto called “Astarte”

What are you doing with photography today, and how has your time at HSTA influenced your current artistic practice?

Shot for Kate Atherly's (Wild Hilda Knits) newest knit line

Shot for Kate Atherly’s (Wild Hilda Knits) newest knit line

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.

This motel was shot as part of an ongoing series of lonely motels

This motel was shot as part of an ongoing series of lonely motels

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

Featured Artist – Hilliary Dunford

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.912261_10151680491096802_975106359_n

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.

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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.

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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.

912177_10151680491061802_831125408_nCan you describe your process for making your custom objects? Are your mediums something you started exploring after or during the VCAD program?

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.

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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
Owner, HilliaryCustomLiving
www.etsy.com/shop/HilliaryCustomLiving
hilliaryscustomliving@hotmail.co.uk
Tel: 705 957 6785

Artist of the Week – Stephanie Rayner

June 1, 2012 § 4 Comments

Watercolour Print Artist, Stephanie Rayner

Dan Brown has it. Nelson Mandela has it. And this week’s Artist of the Week, Stephanie Rayner, has it.

“It” is the ability to inspire people to question their beliefs. Perhaps not change anyone’s mind, but to start an internal dialogue. To encourage someone to realize that the status quo can evolve, that the necessary evolution of ideas will lead to a greater depth of understanding. Rayner engages the viewer not by forcing them to question whether what she creates is art, but instead, whether or not they are ready to ascend to a new level of perception.

She blends religion, mythology, science, art, music, media, and ideas into thought-provoking works. Every piece is not just beautiful, but opens the doors to new dimensions waiting to be discovered. Her print works are layers upon layers of watercolour and subtleties of colour and texture; her gallery creations are typically large, often installation-style pieces blending research, innuendo, metaphor, and allegory.

Although her epic creations take hundreds of hours to create and years of planning and research, her beginnings were humble enough. In this day and age, many children and youth are raised to be empowered – they believe they can do anything, be anything. Despite coming from a long line of artists, Rayner’s father discouraged her, claiming that “There’s no place for women in art”, nor would there be.

Stephanie took the advice to heart. Rather than pursuing her lifelong dream, she decided that if she couldn’t be an artist she would choose a field so closely related to it that it would amount to almost the same thing: interior design. But, either through a cruel twist of fate or part of a larger, grander design, Rayner soon realized that while her part-time jobs could collectively pay for tuition, her pockets weren’t deep enough to pay for the supplies and materials required. (Sadly, her “burlap and found-object chairs” simply didn’t impress the instructors – after all, there are only so many things you can make out of burlap before it loses its novelty…) She abandoned her studies to see the world…

In this day and age, it is hard to find places as yet undiscovered, or at the very least, off the “beaten-track”. But fortunately for Stephanie (who’d always wanted a TIME MACHINE!), there were still places in the 70s that just hadn’t quite made it into the 20th century. And the call to adventure began… Afghanistan, Iran, Central & South America, Hindu Kush…

In Africa, she lived in a tree house à la Swiss Family Robinson, during one of her trips to North Africa she was caught by slave-traders. In Central America, she rode out a hurricane with her partner in a tiny mail boat out of Belize, only to be marooned afterwards by the sailors when provisions ran low. As though torn from the pages of R. L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island itself, they met their own Ben Gunn: a man stuck on the island who’d built a raft. With three people to man it, they landed on the shores of Guatemala at 2am. At gun-point.

They were stood against a wall, a firing squad in front of them.

Rayner recollects that she walked right towards the man in charge, his machine gun raised and trained on her, fearlessly whistling. It wasn’t until she had to sleep in a cabin with thousands of rats that her mettle deserted her. “They were like maggots, if you’ve ever seen a lot of them: they were sliding back and forth over each other, and wriggling and writhing. I didn’t scream when I thought I was going to be shot. I screamed when I saw the rats.”

Detail of “Spirit”

These experiences perhaps ingrained what Stephanie now understands to be a universal truth : “[The human] ability to deal with the world has always involved art and expression, it is a window for the soul,” she explains, “From the beginning, cavemen used art to deal with things beyond their understanding.” That might begin to explain why she whistled a tune in the face of almost certain death…

Nor was the episode in Guatemala the last of her adventures. In 1999, Rayner was asked to speak in Malta at joint INSAPP II, a Vatican Symposium on religion and science. Then, Stanford University’s Centre for Advanced Learning hosted her in 2002, to lecture a group of international scholars on “Art and the Evolution of Human Consciousness” in Palo Alto, California. A couple years later, the Zygon Centre in Chicago invited her to speak at their “Epic of Creation Lecture Series”. While the next few years calmed down ever-so-slightly, the momentum picked up once more when she was invited to China in 2009 to teach her own unique printing process at Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, in Shen Yang, and to lecture on her art at various other universities and institutes throughout China.

She spoke of meaning and soulfulness in art; and how, possessed of the best technique in the world, an artist (or a work of art) can still lack soul and vitality. It was, for her, an incredible experience. Teaching energizes her; she sees the potential in each and every student and she loves to see the students blossom in their creativity.

The two courses she’s offering this summer in watercolour printmaking will no doubt be fantastic; the first, Watercolour Monotypes, will be running from July 30th – Aug 3rd and encourages students to loosen up in their creative process, while still achieving outstanding and breathtaking results; the second, Impasto Waterbase Printmaking, will be running the following week from Aug 6th – 10th and teaches the intense layering of pigmentation that reveals itself as the prints are pulled. Students have virtually filled the halls with drying prints – all exceptionally beautiful and totally unique to the artists.

“The medium is forgiving, it’s experimental but you can have control, too,” she says about her watercolour printmaking techniques. “If you dance with it, it dances back. And there has to be teamwork in the process as well: students assist each other at the press and everyone is excited when a new print is pulled. You can hear us cheering in the halls!”

Her current work in progress will be the culmination of many years of work and research: a twenty-nine foot boat titled Eternal Return, it reveals the shared mythology of the many cultures that make use of a boat to journey to the Otherworld. It is an epic mixed-media work involving moose ribs, wood, glass, DNA-sequencing, Mozart’s Requiem, dice, and countless hours of research and construction. We can’t wait to see it!

To register for either of Stephanie’s workshops, or for more information, please call 1-866-353-6464 x3 or visit us online at www.hsta.ca

To get in touch with Stephanie, please visit her website at www.stephanierayner.com

Artist of the Week – Helen Donnelly

May 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Clowning: It’s Serious Stuff. Seriously.

Examples of porcelain masks from Greek comedy

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.

The character Harlequin or “Arlecchino” from Commedia dell’arte.

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.

Bozo the Clown

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 as “Leonardo da Foo”

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?

Helen Donnelly as “Daisy”

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.

Helen Donnelly as “Miss Posey”

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?

Helen Donnelly as “Creature Foo”

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?)

Daisy “breaking the wall” and interacting with people directly

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!

Helen Donnelly as her therapeutic clown, “Dr. Flap”

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.

Dr Flap and sidekick Nurse Polo (Manuel Rodriguez)

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?

HD – Yes!  For those looking to explore this unique art form as a curiousity,  I heartily encourage them to try it. It’s an amazing journey if you have the right teacher at the helm.

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.

Helen Donnelly as “Foo”

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

Artist of the Week – Jennifer Wilson-Bridgman

May 17, 2012 § 11 Comments

Jennifer Wilson-Bridgman

“We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.” Desmond Tutu, on ubuntu

Her eyes, even in the most dim conditions, seem to sparkle with an inner light. They dance, they laugh, they sing. She possesses one of those rare and pure gazes that has the ability of seeing right into a person. It is not invasive or unwelcome; you simply get the feeling that she wants to connect, to share stories and emotions, to bridge that part of all of us that keeps us apart: space.

The many years that Jennifer Wilson-Bridgman has spent in selfless service, being involved in missions from an early age in Asia and Europe, becoming an elementary teacher and  a professor, then using those skills as the president of a Christian humanitarian organization working in parts of Africa and the Caribbean to improve education for children, have served to shape both her and her outlook on life.

Some might argue that pulling away from those efforts, giving it all up to create art, well, it might seem a hair… selfish. Until, upon seeing her creations, you realize that she is undoubtedly doing the world a greater service by becoming an artist.

“My aim is to evoke universal emotions in the viewer that will encourage him or her to tap into the spirit of “Ubuntu”:  what it means to be truly human – “to be wrapped up in the bundle of life”,” she writes.  “I have become profoundly aware of how interconnected we are – with each other and with nature. Art is a vehicle through which I can explore and honour that.”

There is unquestionably in all of her artwork a touch of the whimsical, a hint of fancy. But when you actually look at her work, you will find countless other attributes that are nuanced and revealed with such subtlety and nobility, that you will wonder why it has taken Jennifer so long to share her inner-artist with us.

Her mixed-media pieces are liable to be made of nearly anything from metal and wood to glass and eggshells. The juxtaposition of these materials is equally as stunning as the work themselves: on the one hand there is a feeling of permanence, a sense of longevity and durability; yet, the organic materials incorporated flawlessly into the work reveal a fragility and offer the distinct impression that the function of everything on earth is ephemeral, merely awaiting its next stage where it will be re-purposed and given a new task.

Of all of her pieces, each one unique with no duplications, perhaps one of the most striking and powerful is that titled Offering. Made of river stones, burlap, concrete, branches, and metal it depicts a woman kneeling with her arms raised, hands in a gesture of giving, and face tilted toward the heavens. When looking at it, you’re struck by an overwhelming sense of power; there is no surrender in her offer, no weakness. The woman is offering herself, as she is – heart, body, mind, and soul – to a greater power, and in this way shows her vulnerability as well. There is no weakness, true, but in offering everything she has to give, there is without question a sense of vulnerability: what if her offering is refused?

       

Jennifer cast various pieces of herself for the project: hands, feet, face, torso, buttocks. And, while it was a very emotional piece to create due to its symbolic connections with the artist’s own beliefs, the sculpture itself maps out beautifully what it means to truly be a woman: strength and sacrifice.

And, what it takes to be human: courage and hope.

We can’t wait to see what Jennifer creates next. She has been recognized by the college not only for her exceptional work but also her consistently positive outlook on life, and will be the valedictorian for this year’s graduating class. Jennifer was also recently nominated for the BMO Student Art Competition and our fingers are crossed for her!

For more information about Jennifer Wilson-Bridgman, please contact her by email at jwilsonbridgman@sympatico.ca or by phone at 905-730-8839 . Her website will be coming soon!

picture of jennifer wilson-bridgman

Jen, doing teacher development training in Kenya, makes friends with a couple of “orphelines”…

Artist of the Week – Matthew Mancini

May 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

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Matthew Mancini

 

 

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

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