By HELEN MEARS
SPECIAL TO THE DRIFTWOOD
Barbra Edwards’ dedicated and focused explorations of nature continue in a new body of work called “re:ani:mate,” presented along with basketry artist Carol Dodd for Artcraft’s next Showcase Gallery.
Immersing herself in the direct observation of dying flowers results in an abundance of ideas in a variety of media: large oil paintings, small watercolours, photographs and collage, exhibited together and connected by theme, complex colours and inventiveness.
Edwards’ work shows us the grace of nature in life and in states of decay — an ongoing muse for her creative process.
Enigmatic, biomorphic shapes are Edwards’ signature pictorial language, showing up in the large paintings as volumetric, robust forms that hang in front of the viewer, within an esoteric environment.
In contrast, delicate, clear and lyrical watercolours on paper are small, gestural environments, dense with varied mark-making.
Edwards includes photography — a starting place and constant reference in her creative process — capturing fading flowers as “portraits.” Groups of roses, dahlias, tulips show their changing colours, papery surfaces, hardening into shapes that Edwards refers to in her work.
“I visually reanimate my subject by creating a connection between the various media,” she said. “It’s all about where the mood of colour and rhythm of brushstrokes go.”
Capturing images of waning flora and investigating forms and colours in nature is a useful tool: a portal for artistic reincarnation and reinvigoration of a subject that Edwards continues to share her reverence for.
Dodd moved to Salt Spring 20 years ago and was always an avid collector of baskets. Once settled on the island, she joined the “fledgling” basketry guild, making functional, purposeful pieces for her own use from willow and cedar, influenced by “working basketry in Europe” and cedar, “the mainstay material of the West Coast Indigenous communities.”
Participating in re:ani:mate allows Dodd to reinvigorate her process by trying out new materials — lichens, bark, pine cones — and working them into functional and non-functional pieces, expanding her creative process and finding new shapes and inventive ways to incorporate diverse materials.
Re:ani:mate opens at Mahon Hall on Friday, June 28 with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m., and continues to July 24.