Seascapes inspire artist, spur move to Pouch Cove from Toronto

J.M. Sullivan
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Po Chun Lau works on exhibit at Red Ochre Gallery

Making Waves, one of the works by Po Chun Lau featured in a new exhibition at the Red Ochre Gallery in St. John’s. — Submitted photo

When Po Chun Lau and her husband visited this province for the first time seven years ago, they knew nothing about Newfoundland and Labrador, but that didn’t stop them from knowing they were home when they got here.

After going back and forth to Toronto for several years, they now live permanently in Pouch Cove.

And Lau’s “Spirit of the Sea,” her first solo exhibition in St. John’s, includes 23 recent pieces, mostly encaustic, with an aluminum sculpture and one clothesline-and-wax-works installation. The exhibition is in direct homage to the seascapes and stories she has culled from the locals and the location of her newly adopted environment.

The pieces are whipping with energy, with rock and sky almost aloft in spumes and flumes of spray.

The palette is natural, blue and brown and cream like a mussel shell.

The ocean is everywhere, and alive from crest to beach. It dominates the canvases just as it rules any coastal view, and the medium of encaustic — coloured, heated wax — renders this integral vitality.

Encaustic is a physical medium, requiring vigour and manipulation, and also, judging from the local visual artists best known for wielding it (Angela Antle, Margaret Ryall, Anita Singh, Jillian Waite), something of a feminine one.

Lau actually came to the medium as a sculptor. She’d brought some wax here to make three-dimensional works, but fellow artist Luben Boykov pointed out that it wasn’t the best kind for crafting those forms.

“So I thought, what do I do now?” Lau said, speaking in the  Red Ochre Gallery upper space as her work was being arranged and hung.

A couple of heat guns, and some knives and brushes later, she had her answer.

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Geographic location: Pouch Cove, Toronto, Red Ochre

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