The Gallery at Artisan Square and the Bowen Island Arts Council are presenting a solo show by local ceramic sculptor Susannah Montague from March 4th to the 26th entitled “Out of My Head”. The works in the show call on the rich Vanitas tradition. Vanitas is a tradition of highly symbolic works often associated with 16th - 17th century paintings from Flanders and the Netherlands. Though the symbolism often deals with the death and the transient nature of life Susannah sees it also as a reminder to treasure the beauty that surrounds us.
The idea for this show originally started from Susannah’s desire to explore our desire for conversation, communication and perhaps even cofession. “In building these pieces and exploring that idea I realized I had all these other topics and conversations literally coming out of my head as I made the pieces. The topics ranged from my personal challenge with balancing my life as an artist while trying to be the best parent I can to my children to topical local and international news stories. As my preparation for the show is coming to a close I see that many of the pieces come from my strong desire, especially in the wake of the US election, to see, focus and stress the beauty and positivity that does exist.”
Many of the pieces in the show use molds Susannah has made of objects found in her travels, including dolls, toys and religious artifacts. “Before I had children I was a sculptor with the movie industry and was involved in a lot of great projects that allowed me to really develop my mold making skills. Mold making truly is an art in itself but my pieces are about the idea that the objects have allowed me to explore, not the mold itself.”
Last year Susannah was involved with the Bowen Island Community School through the Art Starts program and was the artist behind the ceramic labyrinth. This project allowed every student to make an individual lantern like ceramic pieces incorporating local Bowen Island Clay that Susannah located, dug up and processed made by almost every student that incorporated some Bowen Island clay into the lantern designs. In discussing that project Susannah says “Working with the students was a real joy and I am grateful for the experience. I believe that Art is so important in early education - I would love if some of the students come to see my show”
Like the lantern pieces from the labyrinth, some of Susannah’s pieces in this show incorporate and play with light, drawing the viewer into the pieces to look closer for the small details that could be missed upon the first glance.
The show runs from the 4th to the 26th. The Gallery at Artisan Square will be open Thursday to Sunday from 12 to 4.