Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Esker

Sunday afternoon, amidst the energy and electricity of the opening of  the SAQA (Calgary POD) exhibit, Road Trip, down at Fish Creek Library in Calgary, I met SAQA member and Road Trip participant, Terri Illingworth.  It's always a delight to meet a cyber-acquaintance (I follow her blog) in the flesh!  Moreover, as she'd already recommended the exhibit at the Esker Foundation Gallery on her blog -- and I'd Googled to see how to get there from Fish Creek -- I knew I had to 'get there pronto!' on my way north and homeward.

After the vibrancy of the Road Trip show, I found myself in a large, calm and quiet space, my footsteps echoing on the bare, hard floors.  It was the perfect way to wind down from the afternoon's activities as well as to take in some beautiful, peaceful, understated work by an artist hitherto unknown to me: 

Ms. Heslin was the artist found -- after some searching -- by curator Naomi Potter to pair with a collection of work by the late Jack Bush, owned by the owner of the gallery (or so the docent told me).

It seemed to me that the perfect chord had been struck by exhibiting their work together.  That said, for the most part, her work is quieter and less colourful than his...and I liked it better. (grin)  

Wondering why?  Well...in addition to an apparent "need" for something quiet after the colour and life I'd seen at Road Trip ...it was the line made by stitch that drew me into Ms. Heslin's work.  Two of her influences: the paintings of Helen Frankenthaler and  the quilts of Gees's Bend.  To quote the program:
Heslin's practice considers these two reference points, but seeks to engage in larger conversation beyond and outside of them, including the influence of photography and sculpture.
Heslin is not a quilter; that is, her pieces weren't two or more layers connected by stitch.  Rather, she creates her work by painting fabrics -- canvas, cotton or linen -- cutting it up and stitching the shapes together.  She dyes her own fabrics in small batches, using dyes and/or India inks, and revels in the textures made by scrunching up the fabric in the dye, then leaving it to dry that way.

I'll say no more...but that her work has me thinking about how to approach mine in a different way.  Suffice to say that experimentation with these influences is now on my radar...

And so I second Terri's recommendation: get thee to the Esker before the show closes on May 8th.  You'll be glad you did!


The work of Colleen Heslin
at The Esker Foundation Gallery, Calgary
"Needles and Pins"
On NOW through May 8


1 comment:

Jo Ferguson said...

Sounds like an amazing show and the work is stunning.