By SALT SPRING NATIONAL ART PRIZE SOCIETY
Last weekend saw the fundraiser exhibition for the Salt Spring National Art Prize (SSNAP) with an exhibition devoted to fine craft artisans, held at historic Mahon Hall. Curated by Anthony Matthews, the show included 36 Southern Gulf Islands makers across diverse media, including clay, textiles, metalwork, glass, basketry, wood, stone and more.
Titled PUSH, the exhibit explored the intersection between fine craft and fine art. The artisans were asked to take their material and process to the very edge and create work that “pushes” their craft solidly toward the realm of art. Visitors to the exhibit saw exquisite and outstanding pieces that transcend their disciplines, inviting visitors to ponder the question “Is it craft or art, or perhaps both?”
The quality of the works was exceptional and is a reflection of the high calibre of artisans working on these islands. Collectors seemed to agree: as of this writing, one third of the works had been sold.
To start off the festivities on Friday was a pair of receptions, one with the artists meeting SSNAP donors and sponsors and following that was an opening for the whole community. Mahon Hall was filled with enthusiastic visitors for the entire day and evening.
On Saturday evening, a panel discussion was held to explore the theme of the exhibit. Three highly respected artisans — studio furniture maker Peter Pierobon, textile artist Jane Kidd and potter Gary Cherneff — joined Steven McNeil, the curator of Canadian Art from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, in a panel moderated by exhibit curator Matthews. Attendees enjoyed a lively discussion and were able to dialogue with the panelists directly.
Something of a dry run for the SSNAP finalist exhibition, it gave the organizers an opportunity to engage with the community of artists as well as the visitors and residents during a traditionally busy Victoria Day weekend.
We can all look forward to the fifth biannual SSNAP finalist exhibition opening this Sept. 22. People can join the SSNAP social media pages and email list to stay in touch. Artists have until midnight on May 31 to get their submissions in.