Ceramic sculptor Susannah Montague’s highly symbolic and eerily beautiful sculptures at once draw you in, and repel you. In each of Montague’s surreal porcelain sculptures, there is a narrative to be discovered. Using a combination of hand building, press molds, and slip casting to build her sculptures, she also references traditions from ceramic fine-craft and art history. In her most recent body of work, Montague uses symbols such as fading flowers, bubbles, skulls , and insects to represent death and the transient nature of life. These symbols, interspersed with casts of toys including dolls, helicopters, and bunnies, take on a slightly sinister feeling in their modern compositions. Montague’s exhibition examines the cycles in our lives and asks us to revel in the beauty of the absurd.
Susannah Montague is a British born ceramic sculptor, based on Bowen Island, BC. She received her BFA from Emily Carr University and OCAD University.
Recent Exhibition History:
NewZones Art Gallery, Calgary Canada, Solo Exhibition “Lucid Dreams”, April 2019
Elissa Cristall Art Gallery, Vancouver Canada, Group Exhibition, December 2018
NewZones Art Gallery, Calgary Canada, Group Exhibition, December 2018
Seattle Art Fair, CenturyLink Event Centre, Seattle USA, August 2018
Elissa Cristall Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada, Solo Exhibition “Of Things I Can’t Unthink” June 2018
Seymour Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada, Solo Exhibition “Of Things I Can’t Unthink”, March 2018
Bowen Island Art Gallery, Bowen Island, Canada, Solo Exhibition, “Out of My Head”, March 04-26, 2017.
Sea to Sky Arts Council, Group Exhibition featuring the art of visual artists across the Sea to Sky corridor, Summer 2016
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.