Illuminations

These experimental works emerged out of my interest in painting on plaster al fresco and also glass enamelling on metal.  Even though both techniques share a long and ancient history in art making, they are rarely if ever seen together.  I began by coating several ash boards with six thin layers of plaster.  I sanded each layer carefully so that the surfaces of the boards eventually became as smooth as silk and ultra absorbent.  I then applied archival inks and paints using water as a medium letting the pigments absorb deeply into the surfaces --  or not, as the case may be.  I was willing to accept chance occurrences and indeed worked with these accidents to create the final compositions.  By working with very high quality art materials I was able to achieve a luminescent jewel-like appearance in each of the works.  Rarely did I consciously intervene in order to push the pieces one way or another.  


I had previously produced a number of hand cut sheet copper blanks for enamelling in a number of shapes drawn from nature.  As this project developed I knew that they would be perfect as applied motifs.  So, I set about creating the perfect complements to the plaster paintings in terms of subject and colour by fusing layers of glass onto the copper surfaces.  These appliqu├ęs were fired in a kiln at least three times and quickly pressed as they came out using an ancient iron to purposely make the glass surfaces crack.  This introduced the possibility of greater reflection and added to their luminosity.  The cliff enamel shapes in particular required many firings and special treatment as they were designed to resemble portions of the Niagara Escarpment.  


All of the works in this series derive from my observations of the landscape, plants and trees on the Bruce Peninsula.  I have included references to the rare orchids that grow there, summer residents  --  the turkey vultures and the beautiful birch trees that abound in Dyers Bay.  I have a great interest in preserving the safety of the snakes that live on the peninsula and produced one piece, 'Skin' just for them.  Another work is intended to serve as a protective mandala for the region. Overall, these pieces are intended to illuminate the places they occupy and hopefully this luminosity will uplift those who see them.  Delwyn