Rare Birds and Strange Bedfellows

I have been working like a maniac and eating sardines like there’s no tomorrow. WHY?

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The following is my artist’s statement:

I know the following things laid side by side are responsible for this fleet of boats/altars/windows.

A young man casually pulls out his folding fan on a stifling train ride between Rome and Naples.

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Maltese fishing boat
Tiny blue fishing boats in earnest blues and gothic arches moored at a Maltese wharf look like altars–windows to another world. Walls of ornate glass boxed reliquaries in a lonely Sicilian monastery contain beautified bits of saints. My own mementos are burned on the bonfire of an ex.

Obviously I was traveling recently. And when traveling, one tends to use whatever material is at hand for art-making and I guess I ate more than my share of canned fish. The tins make wonderful frames and with their allusions to things silvery and densely packed, they have since become natural containers for my art. These boats are packages of valuable stuff saved, compressed; precious and endangered things folded in on themselves and packed like sardines. They allude to survival by migration, physical and spiritual journeys, they can be seen as symbols of the Church, they are scoopfuls of water baled out of a larger boat, they are bottled messages thrown out to sea. They are short prayers, poetic as packed suitcases. They are reliquaries. In a sense they are the result of an artist residency I took part in on that same trip near Naples Italy. When I returned home, I folded the drawings I did during that month into tiny accordions until they fit into sardine cans. Beside them are folded watercolour paintings and linoleum prints, remnants of recipes. The glass boat shape goes on last and encapsulates these strange bedfellows.

 

It is my pleasure to share this show at the David Kaye Gallery with my good friend, neighbour and extraordinary ceramic artist, Ann Cummings: 

ANN CUMMINGS: “This body of new work was inspired by my admiration of an 18th century Derby porcelain that I saw at the Gardiner Museum, Toronto and then subsequently many more pieces at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England. The Derby works, to my mind, are delightfully charming and rather frivolous. I felt a kinship with those works and they proved to be a vehicle for the direction that I was compelled to follow.
My works are imagined landscapes. They represent both my joy and delight in nature and also my sorrow, grief and fear for the ongoing destruction of our environment. These are assemblages of chaos and a warning to take care of the land. My sculptural works are also an homage to my dearly departed husband and ultimately to the landscape that we found together where we loved and lived.
I feel there is a strange beauty all around me and yet conversely there is uncertainty and a disarray of the natural landscape with the possibility of its demise. This dichotomy of nature and my surrounding landscape are two opposing sides of beauty and wonder, as well as fear and destruction, that all makes for strange bedfellows.”

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Taking wing

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Oh my goodness, what a trip! I spent this summer making art at an artist residency in Italy and looking at art and architecture in London, Malta, Sicily and Naples. I am currently in a two-person show in Toronto in which I begin to process everything. My part of the show is called “taking wing”. Below are some of my images from the show, in invitation and my artist statement. The opening is this Thursday November 10, 2016. Join us!

TAKING WING
 I did take wing recently. Most of the small work here is the initial unpacking of my summer’s trip to southern Italy and Malta (bracketed coming and going by the Sainsbury wing in London’s National Gallery).
I was awestruck, of course by the ‘angels in the architecture’: an intimate polychromed sculpture of San Michele the Archangel in a private chapel in San Potito; Caravaggio’s pigeon-winged angels in Naples; the cherubim and seraphim holding up the corners of the cathedral in Monreale. There were marvellous and exquisite wings everywhere–sometimes real ones. In some windy towns like Caltagirone, white feathers flew constantly like snow. I don’t know why.
I call my winged pieces ‘traveling mercies’. That phrase is stolen and only slightly misused. Thirty years ago in the local Baptist church, men in terrible brown suits bellowed prayers thanking special speakers for coming and asking God to grant them ‘traveling mercies’ (protection on their journey home). It was an eye-roller even then and I like to reimagine ‘traveling mercies’ as actual creatures: guardian angels on the road. I certainly met some and am thankful.
Another way of taking wing is by boat. I was taken by a series of little blue docked fishing boats in Malta.  Looking from the boardwalk above they were dreamy altars or shuttered windows as well as boats obviously (Dghajsa in Maltese). They inspired my sardine can boats, packed accordion style with important art, mysterious messages and other supplies. More than you’ll ever need. More than you can ask or imagine.

Lynne McIlvride: Storm Seller

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After re-reading my artist’s statement, I am reminded that there is so much more to process that deeply moved me and inspired me… I’ve barely scratched the surface. Aside from the wondrous beauty I found in the art and architecture, there were very wonderful and helpful people in each part of my journey. These meetings and their significance will slowly seep into my artwork. Regine in Malta, Phyllis in Palermo, Angelica & Gilda in Caltagirone, Anna in San Potito. There are many more and unless they read this, only I know their significance. Anyway, Here are some random wonders.

Caltagirone Reliquary
Caltagirone Reliquary

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An amazing Maltese fireworks video!

Co-cathedral, Valetta, Malta
Co-cathedral, Valetta, Malta
Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama
Chagall window, Tudeley, England
Chagall window, Tudeley, England

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There are many more images and explanations on my Facebook page.

Tradition

I don’t have very many markers of time. One of the few is my yearly solo show in my studio  on whatever weekend Easter happens to fall. This year it is March 25,26, and 27. 

  This show started as a way of coping (and perhaps avoiding) difficult family gatherings. More importantly, it has always been a quiet way to celebrate my faith in a way that includes my art. Especially appropriate to Easter, I am training to serve the chalice in the Anglican Church I go to. John, the priest was naming all of the components and for the first time I learned about the piscina, which is a little plate in the corner where any leftover consecrated wine and bread are put and then thrown outside where the wine can soak into the earth and the birds can eat the bread. The part about the birds moved me: the innocence of sparrows snacking on holy communion crumbs. Such small bits of hope.  

 I hope you come to my show. It’s an offering of sorts. There will be small constructed paintings of lively flocks and striped cats, tornado sculptures, linoprints and etchings. Most of these things are for sale: the show itself is a gift. 1-5 each day or email to make an appointment if you would rather do that. This show is in my studio in the tiny village of Utica: 14260 Marsh Hill Road.  

Cat watching birds

The Opening was Wide with People

I feel very fortunate to be an artist. Vulnerable, but fortunate. My show is hanging; the Opening was wide with people; the talk, thankfully, is over. And there were no pearls to swine here! Both the art and the talk were received graciously and intelligently. Truly, I’m thankful for those who looked and listened so carefully. I’m thankful to God for giving me a way to tell this story. I am not glad for what happened: I’m still spinning. But I’m thankful I am an artist and that a few found encouragement in this series born out of such devastation. The show continues until June 21st.

Lynne McIlvride's Art Show
Gallery A


 

miniature cat painting
Cat Landing on her Feet

Safe Landing, Cold Feet

Cat Falling: Step One: Terror

Tomorrow (Sunday June 7) is my opening for “The Tornado that Turned into a Cat.” Oshawa McLaughlin Gallery, 12-4, downstairs in Gallery A. 18Today I try to figure out what to say in my talk. It will probably consist of what I have written in the last few weeks in this blog. I have put a lot of effort into this show and I admit some trepidation. Please join me tomorrow. My talk is scheduled for 1:30 but it can be avoided if you just want to come to the opening. (Give yourself a little extra time to skirt around Oshawa road closures). The show continues to June 21st. Don’t miss it!

Cat Falling: Step One: Terror
Cat Falling: Step One: Terror