Creation in the house

Joan Sullivan
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Exhibition celebrates St. Michael's Printshop residency project

"He Isn't Here Right Now," by Jennifer Barrett, Linocut 2007. Submitted image

The St. Michael's Printshop residency is an annual program that brings six artists into the studio for some protracted, focused work. The artist gets a chance to delve into ideas that have been lingering on the edges of their creativity, enticing them without making it across the border to actual production because of a lack of an extensive period of concentrated inspiration.
Works from residency participants are featured until Nov. 24 in the exhibition Residency, St. Michael's Printshop Visiting Artists 06 - 07 at the Eastern Edge Gallery.
Prints, as a genre, can range from the simplest line-and-tone face of a woodblock to gorgeously elaborate patterns in multiple media. They share a sense of polish - prints really look finished - and the innovative trick of being made left to right, with the picture reversed. (Even such masterful artists as Picasso occasionally, famously, forgot this.)
The half dozen artists in this exhibition seem to have plucked ideas from many sources, including contemporary comics, personal experience, singular temperament, national history, and individual scientific and political curiosity.
Mark Bovey (assistant professor of printmaking at Halifax-based NASCAD) has two big lithographs, "Triangulating Time #3" and "Triangulating Time #4," in black and white.
These are pinned to the gallery wall, and contain internally framed and spaced panels and insets, like pages from a graphic novel, all action-packed and filed with narrative temporal shifts.
There are human figures, jet planes and symbolic weavings and spirals of lily pads and celestial maps, synecdoche's that compress and compact storytelling objects and figures.
In a more straightforward descriptive account, Tara Bryan (something of a specialist in book arts) has three artists' books jacob-laddered on shelves. This exposes their subvert facings, with their secret inner covers aglow, and the pages which are filled with lively drawings of dogs - Labrador retrievers, Airedale terriers and English setters (according to the titles).
Anita Singh's two monotypes keep their imagery afloat with lightness, one paced with embryo stamps and the other an interlocking wedge of terrain, while Jennifer Barrett's two linocuts are black and white individual frames from movies stills, titled from the corresponding dialogue at a pivotal moment in the flick: "I'm Just On My Way Out", and "Tell Me Everything".
Barbara Beisinghoff is Germany-based, and her pair of etchings are like album pages, holding discrete imagery of the organic and the technical, in beautifully handled colours and supported with occasional lines of text.
Vanessa Hall-Patch (of Vancouver) has two mixed media prints (photo etching, chine colle), small black and whites that are clusters of texture.
Newfoundland's Shirley Greer's two etchings are also small articulations in monochrome.
There are two silkscreens from Robert Truszkowski (based in Montreal), with the simple orange ensign of "Explosives and The Forest for Diana Princess of Wales," and "The Northern Princess" with one bright punch of orange comet across the bow and other black line markings lifting the vessel.
Their crispness and juxtaposition suggests some ironic play on the paraphernalia and position of the diverse Princesses.
Jacquelyn Barrett (of Calgary) has two mixed media (etching, chine colle), which both have text under a shape in unrolling, rubber-band-ball strips of paper that recalls both a tree and a brain.
There is one silkscreen from Newfoundland's Craig Francis Power, a text honouring the First World War soldiers, and Raina McDonald (Halifax) has two drypoints, both featuring groupings of roughly triangular shapes, fanned and stacked, in ochres and creams.

Organizations: Eastern Edge Gallery, The Forest for Diana Princess, Halifax

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Vancouver, Montreal Wales Calgary

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