Susannah Montague’s Cabinet of Curiosity:
Reflections on Life, Death and Renewal
Susannah Montague is a British-Canadian ceramic sculptor who lives on an island off of the wild West Coast of Canada with her husband, two children, and a tutu-wearing terrier.
Montague’s art is as humorous as it is subversive. Her pieces are a daydream in clay, wryly communicating the intransience of the human condition with a wink and a nudge. Stepping into her studio is like discovering an Eighteenth Century Cabinet of Curiosity. Her art is a collection of shamanistic characters which imbibe the peculiar, scientific and mythical qualities involved in creation. Rollicking, cherubic figures wearing masks and antlers frolic among symbols of decay, in a world that is equal parts shadowy and lighthearted. Her lively sculptures are an amalgam of animal, human and object. Combined, the images evoke a whimsical narrative of folk tales, childhood fantasies, dreams, and nightmares.
The artist draws on her deeply personal history to reference fertility and childbirth, using babies, blastocysts and vanitas symbolism to convey a frenetic celebration of the divine comedy of existence. There is a precarious balance in her work between life and death, creation and destruction, innocence and corruption. The artist states, “These characters know much more than they let on.” Each individual sculpture is an island of ideas, a cluster of creative life-force/death-drive, and a barge of becoming.
Montague’s medium is also her message. It’s fitting that her raw material is clay, taken from the earth, lovingly molded, fired, and finally made into deliciously delicate porcelain that will – inevitably – return to the earth. Ashes to ashes. This cyclical perception of time is enhanced by her rediscovery of a forgotten art medium, bursting with the floral blooms of a porcelain past and decorated with all the excesses of a lost century. Even as it is born, each piece has somehow curiously already died away.
Ultimately, viewing a Susannah Montague piece is a bit like falling down a rabbit hole, and feeling in turns terrified and utterly charmed.
“I scoured her site looking for the stories behind these gorgeous/scary pieces, but I believe she’s left it up to our imaginations. At this stage all I really know is that I want to ride around in a row boat with a pink beluga.” – Danielle Krysa, “The Jealous Curator”
Susannah Montague received her BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in the sculpture department. She also attended the Ontario University of Art and Design where she specialized in figurative work and anatomy and studied at the Vancouver Film School.
In 1996 the BC Ceramic Gallery recognized Susannah as the Top Emerging Ceramic Artist in British Columbia and awarded her studio space for the year.
Susannah developed her sculptural work and exhibited and sold her work in Vancouver and Los Angeles. Susannah was also involved in many Interior Design and Art Installations for major night clubs and restaurants in Vancouver.
In 1999 Susannah was selected as one of 30 founding artists for the C.O.R.E. Artist Live Work Studios in Vancouver, BC and she made this her home and studio for 10 years.
In 2003 Susannah studied set design at the vancouver film school
Susannah became a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) where she worked in the departments of Sculpture, Props, Set Decoration and Art Department. Susannah gained an extensive knowledge of sculptural techniques, mold making, body casting and gained extensive experience with various materials during her years in film.
In 2005 Susannah was awarded a Canada Council Grant. The grant was an honour that allowed her to delve into a series of ceramic sculptures representing blastocysts and the first 5 days after human conception.
Susannah completed an Artist In Residence program with Bowen Island School in 2016
Susannah exhibits extensively in Canada and the United States
Recent Exhibition History:
Sea to Sky Arts Council, Group Exhibition featuring the art of visual artists across the Sea to Sky corridor, Summer 2016
Bowen Island Art Gallery, Bowen Island, Canada, Solo Exhibition, “Out of My Head”, March 04-26, 2017.
Seymour Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada, Solo Exhibition “Of Things I Can’t Unthink”, March 2018
Elissa Cristall Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada, Solo Exhibition “Of Things I Can’t Unthink” June 2018
Seattle Art Fair, CenturyLink Event Centre, Seattle USA, August 2018
NewZones Art Gallery, Calgary Canada, Group Exhibition, December 2018
Madrona Art Gallery, Victoria Canada, Group Exhibition, December 2018
Elissa Cristall Art Gallery, Vancouver Canada, Group Exhibition December 2018