Craft Council members spreading their wings

Joan Sullivan
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Annual members' exhibit shows amazing diversity

The Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador is a meeting place for all manner of techniques and practices, so it is no surprise the annual members show (on display at the Craft Council Gallery until Aug. 22) is a medley of all kinds of work. Craftspeople and artists making submissions to this juried exhibition were encouraged not to limit themselves in terms of subject or process.

Apparently they complied.

About 60 pieces are assembled, and they include hanging tapestries, chairs, side tables, necklaces, jugs and vessels, and framed and wall-mounted works.

The annual members' exhibit is a juried display of about 60 pieces. - Submitted photo by Eric Walsh

The Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador is a meeting place for all manner of techniques and practices, so it is no surprise the annual members show (on display at the Craft Council Gallery until Aug. 22) is a medley of all kinds of work. Craftspeople and artists making submissions to this juried exhibition were encouraged not to limit themselves in terms of subject or process.

Apparently they complied.

About 60 pieces are assembled, and they include hanging tapestries, chairs, side tables, necklaces, jugs and vessels, and framed and wall-mounted works.

There are also several small sculptures. For example, there is "Squid," by Elly Cohen (recycled copper, heated, hammered and soldered).

By method, Cohen is very hands-on; by presentation it is like she simply pours metal into air. Her works are fluid, animate and wondrously aloft. This, too, is a graceful piece, realistic in form and size but magical in suggesting both movement and aquatic suspension. The copper surface glows with subtle radiant mottling, like its subject is shivering through the water.

By comparison, "Boat Building," by Kevin Coates (hard carved and painted fir, pine and birch wood) is both a sculpture and a diorama, a carton-sized, well-set scene inside a wooden shed, with the ribs of the boat in progress surrounded by three men at work cutting and planking. It is a neat and full view that preserves an art within an artwork.

Gordon Gosse's "Splated Apple" (local birch, Mozambique ebony and polished copper, turned on lathe, finished with tulip oil and paste wax) is slightly larger than life, smooth and textured, one copper leaf poised above the beautifully grained curves.

This small piece is all natural symmetry, realistic yet alchemical in its combination of form and element.

In a more elaborate work, JC Bear has "The Three Disgraces" (reclaimed Raku clay, oxides, found wooden box base), with three demonic figures in fierce stance on a box. They are well detailed and hold a lot of character. Their presence is deliberately ambiguous. Are they guarding the viewer from the content, or vice versa, or both?

Framed works includes Ray Cox's "Untitled" (natural coloured pewter, framed) which is a rectangular wash, a see-what-happens metal spray that produces images like whales' tails rising from the one-off abstract pool. Margaret Best's monotype series, "Birch 1-111" (printed on 100 per cent rag paper) are simple square stamps of arboreal impressionism.

Betty Johnson has "My Treasured Scallop Shell" (hand-dyed cotton, taffeta, embroidered and hand appliquÉd), the material coloured yellow and brown and set in precise curling shape and volume on blue. And Sylvia Bendzsa has "Spirit Rock" (deconstruction of two etchings, intaglio, etching, soft ground, aquatint). The blocks of the prints are arranged like a comic page, in panels that interplay with time and narrative, while carrying contemporaneous swirling lines in a palette of brown, white and orange.

Also wall-mounted, though not a work on paper or canvas, is Jay Kimball's "Full Moon" (stoneware clay, iron cobalt glaze), with the bright, round shape emerging as a series of tiny white and yellow dots against a dark brown background, a misty moon surfacing through night clouds.

Some works are truly one-of-a-kind. "Underwater Fantasy Tea Cozy," by Judy Cooper (cotton batiks, variety of yarns, threads, beads and organza, with free motion stitching and embroidery) is a luminous oceanic scene, fantastic and composed. (And functional.)

Florence Donaway's "Toreador's Choice" (decorative dress form, hand-built using slabs of low fire white clay with velvet underglazes) is a sexy flamenco-style gown fashioned in red on black; the delicacy of the folds is incredible, ruffling wafts of "fabric" shaped from pottery. And Mikel Lefler used insects to decorate his jewelry, as in "Bumblebee Pendant" (bezel-set moonstones, hand-fabricated roller printed and hammer textured silver, bumble bee and hand tinted and shaped resin), with the insect in a clear pink wedge topped by five set stones and set with a wire neck link.

And that is just a dozen of the pieces here - a suggestion of the breadth and variety the exhibit holds.

Organizations: Craft Council

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