Field Notes: Exhibition and Tour

Field Notes is an exhibition of seven temporary public art installations and one public reading in Hillier Hall. The exhibitions will be on display at wineries throughout Hillier, Prince Edward County, Ontario. To see the list of artists and locations click here:  Alchemy, 2021 Creatives in Residence, shared how their work brings artists and cooks into community settings. They examine how the making and sharing of art and food makes a difference on two fronts: in the community itself, and in the creative practices of their collaborating artists and makers. In their newest blog below, Alchemy takes you behind the scenes to meet one of their visiting artists – Barbara Brown.  Barbara spent two weeks creating a site specific piece that will be part of the public art exhibition, Field Notes, scheduled for the Culture Days Festival from September 25 – October 24.  She also spent four days in the kitchen contributing to Alchemy’s twice weekly suppers for 40 farm and vineyard workers. 

Alchemy: What was the most positive aspect of your Hillier experience this year? 

Barbara: There is something deeply restorative about being in this open landscape including the huge skies and the wide vista of the lake. I enjoyed being in the County, experiencing the deeply agrarian landscape and meeting people who have tethered themselves to the land through growing. 

Alchemy: How did this year’s visit build on your earlier experience collaborating with Alchemy in the County? 

Barbara: On my previous visit, I met people who were passionately engaged with farming but on a modest scale. During this visit, I got to know a grower/vintner couple who operate on a much bigger scale. While there are many similarities, the larger scale operations have much more at stake and each decision can have a large ripple effect. Growing at the level of a winery is not for the faint of heart.

Artistically, it was great to return to Hillier Hall for many days in a row. It allowed me to further develop the “longscape” work that I first began in the Hall in 2018.

Alchemy: Is there something you learned from your time in the kitchen that you can share with us?

Barbara: I can share two different observations –the first from my kitchen experience: 

Scaling up the volume of cooking and having a hard deadline for delivery certainly upped the stakes. It also shifts the timing as everything takes longer from chopping to cooking to serving. 

Alchemy: And the second?  Is there something you learned as an artist that you will consider incorporating into your own practice?

Barbara: I became aware of the degree of problem solving involved in both cooking and art making. I think this foregrounds a kind of flexible thinking that is healthy and leads to a multitude of possibilities and that’s how I experience art making as well.

Experimental Anthotypes made with wild grapes.

Alchemy: What advice or insights would you offer to incoming visiting artists as they prepare for their residency?

Barbara: Come with a plan but also be ready to shift things up depending on what you experience here. Be open to incorporating new experiences into your practice. Don’t focus on making finished work as the time is very short once you are in the County.

The experience of developing new work on a tight deadline is very challenging but it does lead to getting things done. It takes time for the experience of being in the county to become somehow transformed and incorporated into an artistic output. Sometimes it’s beneficial to have the added pressure of a short timeline but not always. 

Barbara Brown’s installation
Image Credit: Dan Sharp (1), Barbara Brown (2)

Field Notes group exhibition September 25 through to October 24.

You can check out our full list of 2021 Creatives in Residence here.


new/ vintage is a group exhibition of photo-based artworks by Studio Sixty Six artists who juxtapose historical creative production methods with contemporary subjects and outputs.

Each artist individually approaches their photographic medium in a way that skews the viewers’ understanding of the circumstances of how the images are constructed. The illusions that arise destabilize fixed notions of particular times or dates.

Studio Sixty Six Contemporary Art Gallery, 858 Bank Street, Ottawa – 2nd floor
July 9 — August 22, 2021


The SPAO Centre Gallery proudly presents EARTHBOUND, featuring Ottawa-based artist and SPAO alumni, Barbara Brown. EARTHBOUND imagines the human body in relation to the growth patterns of the earth. Brown’s work serves as a monument to all those who have come before us, with an underlying awareness that death feeds life. SPAO’s Photo-Synthesis Garden is an unique outdoor exhibition space that introduces audiences to temporal and botanical elements to the photographic arts. The images are suspended above a crop of edible plants that will grow and die acting as a parallel to the seasonal cycle depicted in the images. This living installation can be visited several times for a deeper understanding of the work over the next few months. 

The School of Photographic Arts Ottawa, 77 Pamilla, off Preston
Exhibition Dates: Thursday July 1 to Friday October 15 
Viewing Times: Sunrise to Sunset!

Poetics of the Field

Note: Artist Interview is archived on Studio Sixty Six Instagram – link below

Exhibition Runs: September 4 — October 4, 2020
Untitled (Gray Oil), 2010-11
Daniel Sharp
Oil paint on canvas
16 x 20 in. / 40.64 x 50.8 cm

Poetics of the Field

What do the photographer and the painter have in common? Photographer Barbara Brown and abstract painter Daniel Sharp maintain separate studios and practices that do not overlap, yet, there are similarities and coincidences between their works. These two practicing visual artists have been life partners for the past 30 years. It is intriguing to view their works side by side. Their artworks seem to cross over at certain points and ‘talk’ to each other in a dialogue of light, colour, and organic forms.

Brown uses photography to capture compositions she creates using natural materials from her local environment. The plants and flowers she selects are both the subjects and mediums of her complex compositions. These compositions represent particular gardens, seasons, or natural environments. Brown seeks to create immersive images that refer back to the experience of being in a garden or forest. She is interested in breaking down the barriers between subject and object in nature. In her work, Brown negotiates an ancient relational way of being in the world.

Sharp paints compositions that he describes as proto-poetic abstractions. He sees these gestures as utterances of thoughts and feelings sequenced into visual essays, prior to linguistic descriptions or writing. His works are fairly simplified abstract paintings, something like an early stage of expression, analogous in some ways to a poem or a song. He is interested in the impulsive and unmediated gesture, balanced with a constructed, composed structure. He strives for deep colour, the dynamism of forms, and the soft nuances of a composition.

Brown has looked towards abstract expressionist painting for compositional clues similar to Sharp’s use of photography as a research tool to see the world.

Oriental Poppy from the Etymology of a Flower series
Barbara Brown
Archival pigment print
24 x 30 in. / 60.96 x 76.2 cm

Barbara Brown
Barbara Brown trained as a visual artist at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University and completed her graduate work at Manchester Metropolitan University, England.

Brown has exhibited in solo and group shows nationally and internationally, most recently in LifeCycle Conversations a collaboration with sculptor Cynthia O’Brien at Karsh-Masson Gallery, Ottawa and Beyond the Edge: Artist Gardens, where she created Red Oak Labyrinth, a 60’ walking path installation beneath a hundred year old oak tree. Brown recently completed month long residencies at Mauser Foundation, Costa Rica, and Kingsbrae International Resident for the Arts in St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick. She participated in the International Artistic Residency Kala Chaupal in India where she collaborated with fellow artists to create Matka: A Portrait of Traditional Water Carriers.

Daniel Sharp
Daniel Sharp was born in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada. He has lived in Ottawa since 1982. Sharp worked at Artspace Gallery in Peterborough Ontario (1980-82) and was Artistic Director at the Ottawa artist-run centre Gallery 101 (1989-91). From 1991 until 2017 he worked as a program officer, then manager and curator with the Canadian government’s art collection for embassies and diplomatic missions abroad. Sharp studied painting and design at York University in Toronto, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in 1979. He later undertook graduate studies in art and cultural theory at Carleton University in Ottawa (1985-89).

To schedule a private interview with the artist and or a preview of the show please contact Gallery Director, Carrie Colton at Studio Sixty Six 613.355.0359 or email
Exhibition Catalogue

Artist Residency in Costa Rica

Musings from the Jungle of Costa Rica


I recently spent a month in Costa Rica with my partner Dan and our twenty-four year old daughter. We were all artists in residence at Mauser Foundation Eco House. Sounds better than it really was but it was a creative and productive adventure.

The novelty of being in such an exotic place is a draw for visually oriented persons such as myself and my family. Costa Rica is very special. There is a huge variety of flora and fauna because of the tropical conditions here, where North and South America form a connecting land bridge. There is more diversity in the natural world here than in the neighbouring countries to the north and south. I wonder if I have the eyes to see what is here.


Discovery and picture taking….

It was a thrill to discover new things and to see the beauty and magnificence of nature. We had close encounters with hummingbirds, butterflies, monkeys and ocean waves.


Collecting and Preserving

Often an artist will collect natural objects, found in the places they visit. Here at the end of the road in a rural setting with not many people around, our focus is on the flora mostly and the extraordinary birds and insects that happen by.  

Flowers catch our eyes as they punctuate the landscape with splashes of colour. We take pictures of course. Flowers are plants’ triumphant moment! It’s all about sex and reproduction, not dissimilar to our human culture. Naturally they are showy, in an effort to attract pollinators.

Banana Flower


My project here in Costa Rica is the archaic process of Anthotypes, using flower petals to make a light sensitive emulsion, which fades when exposed to the sun. The process is similar in some ways to an old fashioned herbarium, where plants and flowers are collected, pressed, mounted and labeled. These prints are a marker of particular time in a particular place.

To make an anthotype I took the freshest flower blooms of the day, ground the petals into a paste, diluted that with water or alcohol and applied it to paper. The resulting emulsion renders the paper sensitive to light and it can then be exposed to sunlight to fade. I used leaves as a light resist to create mostly tone-on-tone images.

Three different colours of emulsion from the same flower.

The prints are left to be exposed by the sun for a day or two or ten. The length of time of the exposure is an artistic decision as well as an experiment. This project has been a discovery of the plants of this particular place and of my time here. And like memory they will fade with the passing of time.

Anthotypes being exposed to the sun.

I think this work might be presented as a book project entitled “On the Nature of Impermanence” (working title). The book would be a collection of plants I found and which I preserved in this odd way, and would also function as a record of my explorations, discoveries and art-making in this place.

Initial experiments with Anthotype process

I initially thought the experimental phase would lead to the making of larger and more complex compositions but I found that the project has been more about the process and not so much about the end result.

Costa Rica Anthotype Collection

Cross Pollination

I am undertaking this residency with my family. My partner Dan is making paintings, mostly abstract, but I can see the influence of this place creeping into his colours and forms. He uses a lot of green! Our daughter Willow is working on a project of natural fabric dyeing using plants and soil. 

As I observe what Dan is working on, I am inspired to make a companion piece to one of his compositions. I notice that one of the anthotype emulsions I make is a similar green to a colour he is painting with. Then he starts to make fields of colour in a rectangular form that look just like the emulsions I paint on the paper I am working on. He remarks that I am really a painter!

I notice how Willow’s dye baths change with the various mordants she is using to set them and I try adding a little baking soda or vinegar to my emulsions to see if they will yield a different colour. Sometimes it works!

One of the other artists in residence tells a tale of how scientists only publish the successes of their experiments. This gives me something to think about and another way to view the “failures” in my project of anthotypes. If I exclude these failures because they look too dull, then am I being true to this place and to the process? How will anyone else learn from my mistakes if I edit out all my failures? This is something I struggle with as I am not a scientist, I am a visual artist and my decision making is visual and aesthetically driven.

In Conclusion:

In Costa Rica we have been to the beach, to a local waterfall, to the nature reserves and we even traveled to a different ecological zone to escape the relentless heat. Each of these little adventures becomes part of the background, part of the field of what an artist works from. Traveling is a way to know a place that is very different from our home.

For me it has been important to discover and have access to work with plants that are very different from my home place. I have made work that is very much about this place, even though I am not from here and don’t belong here.

I am very grateful to have been able to spend time in a place I have only ever dreamt of. Thank you Mauser Foundation for the opportunity to discover Costa Rica in a creative, intimate and artful way.

Palette of the day. A variety of flowers to be turned into Anthotypes.

An interview with ZoneoneArts

A Storied Recipe: Kanelbullar

A Storied Recipe: Kanelbullar is an Artist Project exploring and documenting a family favourite and tracking its variations through three countries (Canada, USA and Sweden) and three families and is a collaboration between three artists, Barbara Brown, Liz Nilsson and Adriana Ciocci.

A Storied Recipe: Kanelbullar is the result of Alchemy 2018: an international artist-led residency devoted to exploring the synergy between artistic practice and cooking and the sharing of locally grown food within a community setting. Twelve participants gathered in the summer of 2018 in the rural setting of Prince Edward County in Ontario, Canada to explore, create and cook together. I arrived at the residency with the idea of a book project based on gathering recipes and documenting the various cooks and the dishes they made. 

Each evening at the residency all the participants gathered to enjoy a meal together. I soon realized my ambition to document all the meals and the recipes was too big. Akin to eating too much, such an undertaking was too grand for our time together. So, I settled on documenting one recipe and gathering the surrounding stories and images and set to making this book. A Storied Recipe: Kanelbullar book project fermented after our time in the residency and has given rise to furthering international friendships.

On the occasion of an open-house for the community, two of the resident artist/cooks discovered a common culinary heritage and undertook to make A Storied Recipe: Kanelbullar or Cinnamon Buns. As these little gems also form part of my family story, I was keen to document the process and story of this family favourite. The result is a recipe book containing only one recipe but in three variations with accompanying photographs and stories.

It is my hope that this book will inspire younger folk to seek out older ones, to learn together how to create family food legacies. 

Bon appétit!

Barbara Brown

To order a copy click the link: A Storied Recipe: Kanelbullar



Studio Sixty Six

Very pleased to be exhibiting my work at Studio Sixty Six in Ottawa with MaryAnn Camps and Angelina MacCormick.

I look forward to greeting you at the opening on Friday June 14, 2019 from 6-9pm and at the Artist Reception and Social on Friday June 21st, 2019 from 5-7pm.


PrintThreo Card Final

LifeCycle Conversations

Barbara Brown and Cynthia O’Brien

Judith Parker, curatorial collaborator

Exhibition Catalogue

Documentation of Returning video installation

1. Barbara Brown and Cynthia OBrien_ She Remembers Me_2017.jpg

November 8, 2018 to January 9, 2019

Vernissage: Thursday, November 8, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 2018

 Death Café: Wednesday, November 21, 2018 at 5:00 to 7:45 p.m. and Sunday January 6th, 2019 at 3:30 p.m. in the gallery

Death Café is an opportunity to talk about all aspects of death over a cup of tea, coffee and cake.

Artists’ tour and catalogue launch: Sunday, December 2, 2:00 p.m. 2018

Curatorial talk: Sunday, January 6, 2:00 p.m. 2019

 Karsh-Masson Gallery Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West

 LifeCycle Conversations is inspired by the theme of memento mori – a reminder of human fragility, mortality and the inevitability of death. In traditional Western painting it is represented symbolically by flowers, fruit and other objects, but here memento mori has been transposed into immersive installations created collaboratively by Barbara Brown and Cynthia O’Brien.

This is the first time that Barbara Brown (photography) and Cynthia O’Brien (clay sculpture) have chosen to work in a collaborative manner – their new works are the fruit of their combined artistic vision. Though the artists work in different media, both employ the changing beauty and delicacy of plants and flowers as a commemorative act and as an observance of transience, loss, memory, decline and rejuvenation in all living things. Brown and O’Brien’s installations also reflect the emotional impact that working as artists in a long-term care residence, where they befriend individuals who are near the end of their lives, has had. Their work reveals profound insights gained from this experience.

– Excerpt from the essay by Judith Parker

Barbara Brown’s recent exhibitions include Red Oak Labyrinth, an outdoor installation in Beyond the Edge: Artists’ Gardens, Experimental Farm, Ottawa, 2014 (Canadensis Botanical Garden Society), and Desire for Acadia, a solo exhibition at David Kaye Gallery, Toronto, 2018 (Contact Photography Festival). Residencies include Kingsbrae International Residence for the Arts, Saint Andrews, NB, 2017; the Art Collaborative Residency, Jaipur, India, 2017; and Alchemy: An Artist-Led Residency, Hillier, ON, 2018. Recent grants include support from the Ontario Arts Council.

Cynthia O’Brien’s clay sculpture is collected by the Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taiwan, the Canada Council Art Bank and the City of Ottawa. O’Brien’s recent grants include the Explore and Create Program, Canada Council for the Arts, 2018 and Arts Funding, City of Ottawa, 2015. Residencies include Tanks Arts Centre, Australia, 2012; Watershed, USA, 2013; Ayatana Artists’ Research Program and CPAWS-OV Dumoine River Art Camp, Quebec, 2017; and MASS MoCA, USA, 2018.

Judith Parker is a curator and art historian. Exhibitions include: co-curator, Beyond the Edge: Artists’ Gardens, Experimental Farm, Ottawa, 2014 (Canadensis Botanical Garden Society); two artist-in-residence exhibitions at the Bytown Museum, Michèle Provost – Rebranding Bytown, 2012, and Cindy Stelmackowich – Dearly Departed, 2011; and Freedom of Association: Dennis Tourbin and Other Artists, Ottawa Art Gallery, 2012. Residencies include Elsewhere – Living Museum, North Carolina, USA, 2014. The Ontario Arts Council has supported her work.

The artists gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Ontario Arts Council.

KARSH-MASSON GALLERY Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West

Alchemy 2018

Alchemy 2018: A Recipe for an Artists Residency in Prince Edward CountyDSC_7426


Alchemy 2018 was a summer gathering of selected visual artists hosted by Claire M Tallarico and Tonia di Rico, set in the quiet rural community of Hillier in Prince Edward County, Ontario. In its 4th year, the artists’ residency is a mix of social experiment, communal cooking, studio practice and culinary exploration all wrapped up in remembering  and sharing family recipes and stories of those who made them.



-12 Visual Artists from Canada and beyond (Korea, Ireland, Sweden and USA)

-Pecha Kucha – illustrated introductions by each participant

-10 days in full summer at the peak of the harvest season

-Rural setting with 3 residential houses in wine county

-Large Community Hall transformed into a temporary studio 

-Well equipped community kitchen

-Communal dinners made from local produce

-Pasta making workshop and dinner

-Visits to local wine makers and organic gardens

-A beach picnic at sunset



Bringing together a group of strangers who have accepted to travel from near and far and hoping they will gel into a functional community in a 10 day period takes some tending and some time. This is what the hosts Claire and Tonia provided. They cared for all the logistical details and made introductions. Once settled in our houses and our communal studio, Claire and Tonia hosted a welcome dinner. Claire is a master chef and knows how to host a conversation that draws each person into the mix. Tonia has her eye on all the details and works to sort out the myriad issues and challenges that arise.

Each house was asked to host a dinner and also to contribute to pot-luck dinners during the week. The meals were occasions for house mates to work together to plan and shop then cook the meals. Attention to all the details including the story of the food was always apparent and as each meal was presented there was something of an unspoken competition arising between the houses. The table settings were always a sight for the eyes, the aroma from the kitchen was very fine and the conversation was woven between cooking and the practice of art making. This is the Alchemy of the residency!



While the focus of the residency was on the gathering of community through the making and hosting of evening meals we also found time for yoga in the mornings, touring the local wineries and making art in-between. 

My project was to make a recipe book of sorts from the experience of the residency. Initially I thought I would document each meal and the recipes and stories involved but soon realized that was far too ambitious. I settled on one recipe for Cinnamon Buns made jointly by Liz from Ireland who grew up in Sweden and Adrianna from NYC whose Swedish grandmother made a similar recipe. With the 200 or so images collected during the making of the Kunel Bullar (cinnamon buns) and the stories from each of us highlighting our memories and family traditions around this recipe, we three artists will collaborate over the internet to make an artist book which might be called “A Storied Recipe”. I look forward to continuing the spirit of the residency with this collaborative project. Stay tuned for news of the publishing date.