Letting barnacles grow on her work is the key to this sculptor's ethereal creations
For her latest project, Susannah Montague is stepping out of her studio and collaborating with the ocean
Milena Salazar · CBC News · August 22
When Bowen Island, B.C.-based artist Susannah Montague was growing up, her family would travel to Scotland to visit relatives who owned an antique shop. She would spend those summers studying vintage objects like Dresden dolls and blue and white porcelain in the shop — an experience that now deeply informs her intricate ceramic work.
Using these traditional methods but with a contemporary twist, her pieces combine natural and fantastical elements to conjure a whimsical world of cherubs, dolls, butterflies, skulls and animals. "I think my style is influenced by my childhood and watching my children grow up," she says. "It's full of the daydreams that we have as children, and the nightmares of a childhood, captured in the scary and the beauty of these pieces."
Watch The Video:
On Bowen Island, artist Susannah Montague explains why she's been giving her sculptures to the ocean.
For her latest project, Montague is stepping out of her studio and collaborating with the ocean. She's submerging new ceramic pieces in crab traps in the intertidal zone, allowing barnacles to grow on them. Barnacles are small crustaceans that build a "house" around them made of calcium carbonate — which happens to be the most common source of calcium in ceramic glazes. "I was sculpting barnacles in porcelain and I thought, 'Why not let nature do its thing?' I love the thrill of working so hard of making a piece and just surrendering it and leaving it in the ocean for months. It's sort of like opening the kiln. You hold your breath and open it up."
In this video, Susannah Montague talks about the process of letting outside forces step in to her work, and how it's allowed her to let go of her perfectionism and let nature use its own creative power.
You can follow Susannah Montague and her adventures with the ocean here.
Earlier this month I got to participate in an "Interview Off" with Danielle Krysa AKA The Jealous Curator. Danielle interviewed me and then I got the opportunity to interview her and learn more about her new book "A Big Important Art Book (Now With Women!)". This event was hosted at Victoria's Club Kwench and it was a real honour to have been a part of this event. You can listen to the Danielle's Pod Cast entitled of the event entitled "Enjoy The Now" at her Art For Your Ear podcast page. I hope you enjoy it!
"Join us for a conversational interview with Danielle Krysa (The Jealous Curator) and artist Susannah Montague. Both of these talented and sassy women will discuss their art, the business of art, and their respective challenges and inspirations.
Coffee, tea and light snacks provided - it is elevenses after all.
Danielle Krysa has a BFA in Visual Arts, and a post-grad in graphic design. She is the writer/curator behind the contemporary art site, The Jealous Curator (est.2009). Danielle has curated shows from Washington DC to Los Angeles, San Francisco to Toronto. In 2014 she published two books, titled “Creative Block” and “Collage”. Her third book, “Your Inner Critic Is A Big Jerk” was released in October 2016, and she is currently working a new book due out Fall 2018. Danielle has also had the great pleasure of speaking at TEDx, PIXAR, Creative Mornings, CreativeLive, and was interviewed for several video segments on oprah.com.
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, the Vancouver Film School, and completed an Artist In Residence program with Bowen Island School. She has exhibited and sold her work in Vancouver and Los Angeles and is a long time member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.)
noun British informal
a short break for light refreshments, usually tea or coffee, and sometimes biscuits, taken about eleven o'clock in the morning."
- Club Kwench event
I'm excited to have an exhibition Of Things I Can't Unthink at the Seymour Public Art Gallery from March 3 – April 14, 2018. I will also be hosting a Hands-on Workshop on Sunday March 18. For full details and to register go here.
"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 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, Bowen Island-based ceramic sculptor. She earned her BFA from Emily Carr University and Ontario University of Art and Design.
March 3 – April 14, 2018 | Reception: Saturday, March 10, 2 – 4 p.m. | Artist Talk and Tour: Sunday, April 1, 2 p.m.
Hands-on Workshop with Susannah Montague: Sunday, March 18. Full details and to registration here."
- Seymour Public Art Gallery