Travelling from past to present

Some artists create new art that has never been seen before, while some look at pieces of their heritage and see the complex art inherent in it.

The spring exhibit at the Clay and Glass Gallery has collections that have taken pieces of the past and turned them into unique pieces of art, giving the observer a spectacular subject to look at.

When one first walks into the gallery, the structure and design doesn’t hint to something pre-millenium, yet the project started in 1981 as a commemoration for the Canadian potter Ruth Gowdy McKinley. Ten years later, the gallery was built and open for operation, with the design submitted by Patkau Architects of Vancouver in 1986.

This relationship of old and new is seen in Jessica Steinhauser’s collection, “Kachelofen.” Steinhauser took the 15th century clay stoves of Austria and Germany and created contemporary, unique, clean energy stoves with bright colours and interesting design. The artist got her inspiration from her home in Nuremburg, Germany.

The furnaces were originally used for heating homes in areas with a small supply of wood, using four to five split logs per day. The gallery is showing three new Kachelofen by the artist as well as one made in the 1860s from Austria. The intricate inner workings on the furnace are left as a mystery to the observer, but a video alongside the collection shows how the artist makes the large, rectangular, hollow brick tiles that encase the ovens. Regardless of the intense heat contained by the oven, the outside is never too hot to touch and radiates evenly, even after the fire is extinguished.

While most of the artist’s Kachelofen are encased in lazuli blues, fire engine red, and bright greens, one piece that stands out is an off-white oven with no additional colours. What makes this oven stand out is the design of a young girl with a raven and houses in the background. The image appears as if it was sketched on, but the simplicity of the drawing draws the observer into the underlying intricate details. 

The Spring collection is also home to John Paul Robinson’s collection, “Art, Science and Myth” that captures the observers as easily as it captures the light. With glass pieces convolutedly wrapped together, the pieces suggest phenomena such as string mathematics and wave particles.

There are also many colourful ceramic, glass, and enamel pieces that take old items and incorporate them into new pieces in innovative ways.

The Spring exhibit opened March 30 and will close June 22. 


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