Forms in nature have served as inspiration, a point from which to let my imagination roam.
I have always felt that despite huge advances in science and technology, there is still much about the world that remains a mystery… unknown and undiscovered, something intrinsic to our being, ephemeral and beautiful. I revel in the possibilities of flora and fauna undiscovered, yet to be discovered or yet to evolve. The strangeness and perfection of some of nature’s solutions such as protective shells, spines and spikes, the specifics of pollination, migration, tentacles and organs, capture my imagination with their spectacle of complexity.
It is this notion of unknown creatures and undiscovered places that I explore in my work.
The line of functional pottery, Dimpled Creatures, uses form and surface decoration to reference an amalgamation of creatures of the sea, creatures of the desert, those with tentacles, those with horns and bellybuttons, and slimy patches. I love the contrast of inside with outside, blandness with beauty, such as a dull stone that when cracked open is full of sparkling crystals. It is my intent that each piece has a character that invites the user not only to look at it, but to hold and touch it. Each piece is tactile as well as functional.
Flora & Fauna
Flora & Fauna, uses scientific illustrations to delve into the world of biology and anatomy, with images of everything from sea creatures, to insects, to a biological heart. Flora & Fauna began years ago when I stumbled upon the beautiful illustrations of Ernst Haeckel and knew I wanted to incorporate them into my work. Ernst Haeckel (16 February 1834 – 9 August 1919) was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor, and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many terms in biology. His images inspired me to start a whole new line of work, to which I am constantly looking for and finding new images to work with. Although Flora & Fauna is aesthetically divergent from Dimpled Creatures, it is conceptually a continuation from both my previous pottery and painting practice.
Favorite Places I’ve Never Seen
My ever-growing series of paintings, Favorite Places I’ve Never Seen, is based on places both real and imagined. Each piece is a landscape, with a layer of fantasy. I work with an idea of a specific place I remember from personal experience or a story or photo or occasionally a dream, then embellish the place in my mind into something magical and unknown until it becomes it’s own place… it’s own world. I am not interested in any place in particular, but instead in the feeling a place can evoke. Places that are seemingly deserted, but upon closer inspection turn out to have traces of habitation, create a sense of wonder about the lives that have touched the place. It is this curiosity and mystery that I aim to capture in each painting.
Interest in the mysteries of nature and our human interactions with it, has led to my profound interest in ritual, particularly relating to death, as this is the point at which our physical selves return to nature. In talking with people about end-of-life ritual, in particular, cremation, I realized that this is an area in which people can derive great comfort from art. I set out to create cremation vessels that resonate with people as a piece of art in honour of a life lived, in order to provide people with a meaningful vessel to incorporate into their own ritual. I create Elementerra Urns of stoneware ceramic, as clay from the earth seems like the most appropriate medium to return to the earth and it has been used throughout antiquity to make urns. Although making urns may initially seem like a major divergence from my other work, it actually combines elements of the natural world with the mystery of unknown places and roots it firmly within a cultural, ritualistic context.
I have always been a very interdisciplinary artist, using whatever medium I feel is most appropriate for me.
Although in the past I tried to curb this and originally tried to focus on one medium only, I have found that this is very limiting for me as I feel equally comfortable working with clay or paint and enjoy the different possibilities each provides. The line between functional and sculptural ceramic is blurred in my practice, as each functional piece is also a sculpture in its own right and I consider each functional piece both on its own and as part of a series. My work has a unity between its tangents based on inter-related ideas and a cohesive style.
My respect of nature was instilled in me from a young age, having grown up in the Comox Valley. Yet, it wasn’t until I returned to the Valley after ten years of tree-planting, travelling, and attending university at Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver, that I fully realized the impact the natural world has on my ability to thrive as an artist.
I carry with me all the experiences and inspiration of those transient years,
while I now work out of a converted barn in Merville BC, where I find fuel for my imagination all around me.