Nature and nurture theme produces delicious fruit at Artcraft

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The journey from seed to harvest and back again gets unique treatment at the Artcraft Showcase exhibition this month, where painter Margarite Sanchez and basket-maker Joan Carrigan have joined forces for a richly textured show.

‘Harvest gather Nature nourish’ is the title of this effort, where Sanchez gives portrait-like attention to various examples of cultivated produce and Carrigan elevates equally humble materials from outside the garden to reveal their delicate majesty.

Sanchez has a splendid colour sense that is heightened by her use of vibrant oil paints. That sensibility, combined with simple-yet-bold compositions, suggests her style may owe some influence to Diego Rivera (a favourite that she mentions in her artist’s statement). But there is also a satisfyingly blocky approach to her application of background paint and to the shape she gives normally round fruits and vegetables, which calls to mind the thick chisel marks of a graphic woodblock print and creates an expressive, painterly quality all at the same time.

It may be hard to believe a trio of parsnips could inspire much passion, but Chirivias brings home the sheer joy of freshly pulled vegetables. One of the larger paintings on view, this vertically oriented piece has three vegetables lying beside each other head to toe, which brings focus to the geometry of rounded bulbs, tapering roots and green tops that flow out of the canvas space. The background space is limited, with small blocks of brown and terra cotta tones suggesting light rippling over uneven earth.

Dreamscape is William Morris meets Henri Rousseau — a screen of luscious snap peas backed by towering artichokes. Dominant green moves into shading that hints of blue and purple, while the few bright white pea blossoms in the closest plane are contrasted by warm golden light behind.

Carrigan also pays tribute to the harvest and the importance of food to culture in her work. Her baskets are made from sustainably harvested materials — she grows many types of willow on her property just for that purpose. This show also features delicate hangings made from hand-stripped and woven wood fibres, into which sprays of tiny dried flower buds, miniature cones and seed pods are interspersed like precious jewels.

Carrigan has truly achieved a masterful knowledge of her craft that is matched by artistic flair, as evidenced in seemingly standard objects. One cheeky example is her Flight of Baskets. Arranged and sized like the tasting flight commonly found in craft beer or cider houses, here it is the vessels themselves that are the treat, each one featuring a different type of weave and base material. Examples are cedar bark, ornamental grass and morning glory vine.

The Viking Baskets show an entirely different aesthetic, with slender pod shapes reflecting the boat meaning of vessel. The horizontal cross lines are bent twigs that alternately point up or down, with pieces in reddish bark rippling through the darker brown. The nautical theme extends to suggest an exotic spiked sea shell as well as the longship.

Sanchez and Carrigan will talk about their showcase exhibit during an artists’ talk starting at 2 p.m. this Sunday, July 15 at Mahon Hall. The show continues daily during ArtCraft hours to Aug. 1.

For more on this story, see the July 11, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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