AN ARTS PROJECT ABOUT WOMEN FARMERS ENGAGED IN SUSTAINABLE FARMING PRACTICES IN THE OTTAWA / OUTAOUAIS REGION.
Please join us for a Community conversataion: Exploring the Intersection between Art and Our Relationship to the Land
SUNDAY, JANUARY 29, 2023 AT 2 PM – 4 PM
Biblio Wakefield Libary, 1-38 de la Vallèe de Wakefild, Wakefield, Quebec
This event is free and there is no registration required.
Please join us for an open conversation hosted by Alice Irene Whittaker about sustainable farming practices as seen through the lens of the arts and how both can work together. The farmers of Sowing the Future have inspired painting, photography and poetry and we invite you to listen to and offer your perspective on ways the arts can support of the local food shed in a way that enhances our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing in this rapidly changing world.
Our Host, Alice Irene Whittaker, is a writer and environmental leader. She is the creator and host of Reseed, a podcast about repairing our relationship to nature. She has been published in national and international publications, including The Globe & Mail and Permaculture Magazine, and her book Homing will be published in Fall 2024. Recently she became the Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa.
Opening on January 3rd and running until February 5th, 2023 at the Ottawa School of Art
Artist Reception Thursday January 19th from 5:00 until 8:00 pm.
Byward Market Campus
35 George Street
Monday to Thursday | 8:30 am to 9:00 pm
Friday and Saturday | 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Sunday | 12:00 to 4:00 pm
Gratitude to the Ontario Arts Council for financial support.
Terroir gathers several bodies of artwork by Barbara Brown to navigate a new and yet ancient way for us to know ourselves as part of the natural world.
The term Terroir is used by vintners to recognize all the aspects that contribute to the quality of wine, such as the sun and wind exposure and slope of the land, soil composition and the local weather, etc. Terroir invites us to adopt an elevated and highly engaged form of attention to the environment.
In her practice, Brown seeks to collaborate in interconnection with the natural world. Her Longscapes series expands the notion of landscape by elongating the photographic form until it becomes a “longscape”, presented in relationship to plants, allowing for a deeper, more intimate experience of the land.
Dust from the EarthBound series depicts the final step of returning to the earth. In this series of photographs we encounter a figure; a being that evokes the memory of a human now returned to earth. This concept is known in the cycles of the garden where decomposing plants of the previous season become food for next year’s growth. We too are part of this natural cycle. We are bound to the earth, nourished by it and finally return to it. This series may be seen outside the School of Photography Arts Ottawa (SPAO).
Portrait of a Field: Rochester Field is a project that tracks the emergence, flourishing and final destruction of a local “empty green space” just before the arrival of heavy construction equipment to build the new light rail transit line in the west-end of Ottawa. It is a record of what is now likely lost forever.
In wondering just how we are connected to both the earth and those who came before us, Brown constructs an image revealing the rooted system of a plant. She asks, can we recognize the enormity of the ancestry upon which we make our days and not only our human ancestors? Ancestral Roots take its inspiration from the family tree which stems from an individual, then branches upward to parents and grandparents and so on. Yet this image is reversed with the green shoots as the current generation, supported by masses of roots representing layers of unknowable ancestors.
The Held Bouquets seriesre-introduces human touch by layering embroidery stitches on top of and within photographic images. Stitching slows down the making process and reflects the historic practice of learning embroidery stitches. These compositions are small in scale and are more intimate and familiar to the hand and the needle. In the same way as one learns the stitches of embroidery, these stitchesremember flowers that have faded and fallen and recreates what is no longer graced by the full bloom of summer.
Masks are found in many human cultures around the globe as objects that allow role play and shifts of identity. This series of embodied masks arose from Brown’s practice as a forager, as she explored the forests and fields around her and, invites us to see through the eyes of another being in an empathetic and compassionate way. They greet your gaze and show you something of yourself and even function as a tool for transcendence that invites and allows a mental and physical shift as you consider what it is to be of a forest or a field.
Brown’s regard of the plant world in these ways is grounding and orienting. She is inspired by beauty in gardens, fields and forests. We need only look to our natural environment for models of how humans can be more diverse, accepting of newcomers and adaptable to change. Let the natural world that surrounds us in the garden, fields and forests be our inspiration.
Please join us November 3, 2022 from 7 to 9 pm at the Glebe Bloomfields location for a celebratory, one-night exhibition of Barbara Brown’s new print series and accompanying book launch!
The prints and book will be carried by Studio Sixty Six if you can’t make it to the pop up.
On the Nature of Impermanenceexplores a practice of art making in relationship with time and place. The series was created during a month-long artistic inquiry in Costa Rica in early 2020.
“Working with the anthotype process (an early method of image making using the liquid secretions of plants) is intrinsically related to time, place, impermanence, and transitory nature of life itself. Eliminating the camera reduced the distance between the subject and the image maker, thus allowing for a more direct relationship and encounter.
“Anthotypes are a record of time. I am intrigued by the anthotype process that allows plants to make an image of themselves, with the little human intervention. Is it magic or natural processes well observed?”
An arts project about women farmers engaged in sustainable farming practices in the Ottawa / Outaouais Region.
Women play a vital role in agriculture worldwide, yet they are often not represented in the collective social image of farmers.
Les femmes ont toujours joué un rôle vital dans l’agriculture de par le monde entier. Cependant, elles brillent par leur absence dans l’imaginaire contemporain.
This creative arts project features seven women who are farming sustainably on the traditional Algonquin Anishinaabe lands of the Ottawa / Outaouais Region.
Ce projet artistique met en vedette huit femmes qui cultivent de façon durable, les terres traditionnelles algonquines Anishinaabe de la région d’Ottawa/Outaouais.
We are creating an arts exhibit which will tell the story of these dedicated farmers by presenting vibrant painted portraits, photos of their farming practice and poetic reflections about their experiences.
Des portraits peints, vibrants de couleurs, des photographies de leurs pratiques agricoles et des réflexions poétiques représentent chaque femme
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: https://makealchemy.com/exhibition-2021. 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.
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.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.