This year, 2021, I returned to a vocation that had been calling for a while during a most unusual time. Before I moved up to the woods I completed a theology degree at McGill University and a year-long internship at a hospital where I learned how to do Spiritual Care, or what used to be called chaplaincy. The ongoing pandemic nudged me to apply for work at a hospital. It seemed like the right thing to do given that I had just spent several years working independently on my art and I had no family to care for. I was honoured to join the frontline workers at a small hospital filling in for another chaplain who was off on maternity leave from January to November of this year. It was a tough job and truly fascinating. It is impossible to share the stories & silences from the very intimate experiences I had with the patients, families and staff at the hospital or the structural shifts that happened in my life as a result. On my days off, since everybody was under lockdown, I had a lot of hours to spend in my studio. This is the only new painting I made this year. A very large four part work on panel that began with a grid of lines and circles and became a puzzle of curves, interlacing imperfectly over geometric lacy constructions. It is very big! I hope that some day I will get to see it on a wall but today I laid it down in the yard behind my art studio in Little Italy in Montréal/ Tio’Tia: Ke and snuck up to my neighbour’s balcony to see it all at once and to take this picture to share with you. We all know that art is something that must be experienced and that little pixels take away the surprise and feeling tone of the true painting but it is the only way that I can share this work with you right now as we are hibernating and hiding from mysterious Omicron. I hope that you stay warm and protected this winter and that you find ways to stay connected. All we have is each other and even those ties that bind will all break eventually. RIP 2021.
the first 20 lines, variable dimensions, sharpie on stationary, 2021
Have you been waiting for some external structure to take over for your skeleton? It’s that time of the year. Remembering other falls, other conditions and simplifying the present experience. Here is a work in progress, just started on vellum. Threads to bind and tether, mutually agreed upon gazes. Bingeing on non-violent communication and following in the footsteps of the Fool. What’s next?
Here are some little “quilt paintings” from the vault. I made these in 2004/5 while living in a basement on Rivard Street while I worked by day as a jewellery designer. They are mixed media on ~6″x8″ canvasses that I bought at the dollarama. Eventually I cut them off the frames because they were falling apart so they are now variable sizes.
I am a little bit shy to share this because it is so close to my heart, but if you promise to keep this very quiet, you may know that I have taken the first tentative steps embarking on a journey that has been in the works for quite a long time. It is an illuminated manuscript of the book of revelation, created through a contemplative process mixing sigils, sacred geometry and intuitive markmaking. This is going to take a long time and it will eventually result in a beautiful bookwork, a folio of prints and seven large, intricate drawings. Work in progress!!
You know what I was not expecting? That after spending so many years hiding in the woods and choosing to come back to Montreal to participate in civilization, that the world I was so ready to rejoin would shut down. Of course, we were all caught by surprise this past year and had to recallibrate on deep levels. I ended up back in the woods, having no opportunies in the city and being unable to access my studio for many months. Luckily I was able to return to the mountain where I had already spent so much time alone to wait out the uncertain time, checking the news nonstop once the internet was hooked up. I worked in the summer months at a local greenhouse and raised a few chickens in my own garden. Near the end of the summer, a dear friend visited and I realized that I needed to start really making art again. I was frozen for a lot of the year but I thawed out and things started flowing. Here are the paintings and drawings from this weird year. 💛
Many thanks to the Missing Witches podcast for taking time to listen. 🖤
the Altar of the East, 2019
acrylic with oil glaze on panel
For the past few years I’ve been hiding up in the Laurentians forest working on an all consuming painting commission – four 6’x12′ triptychs aligned with the cardinal points and painted by the seasons, called ‘the altars to the directions’. The finishing touches of this large-scale time-based painting series are now happening at my downtown atelier. The studio is open to visitors by chance and by appointment until the winter solstice.
372 rue Ste-Catherine Ouest, Belgo Building, studio #531, Montreal, Quebec H2B 1A2
above: detail, centre panel, ‘the altar of the east’, acrylic with oil glaze on panel, 2019.
including works by:
Mary Lou Freel
Wah Wing Chan
Show runs September 8-29
Vernissage September 8, 3-5pm
Open Saturdays 12-5 and by appointment.
Espace 532 YMUNO at the Belgo – 372 Ste-Catherine Ouest, Montreal, QC H3B 1A2
image: “The Wishing Heart”, Copper and Acrylic and Ink on Canvas, 56″ x 56″