It was a smashing success or a smashing failure, depending on your point of view for Roberts Creek artist Mardi Coeur de Lion. She was invited to Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver for the exciting Deighton Cup horse race event on July 21 where she would be displaying 40 of her painting series titled Equus, after the theme of horses, in the VIP lounge. She would also be painting a horse-themed work of art live on stage in front of the thousands of elegantly-dressed people attending. Her canvas in this case was a giant sheet of tempered glass that weighed about 500 pounds.
“It took a team of eight muscular, gorgeous guys,” she said, “to wrestle this glass from the truck onto the stage.” A rigging especially made for this type of project held the glass upright in place. It was extremely hot on stage but Mardi stepped up dressed in a summer outfit that included shorts and a top hat and using a giant three-foot wide paintbrush dipped in a similarly large paint tray, she painted a horse’s head. She was just about to give a big splash of colour to the glass when the rigging gave way. She tried to grab it but had to let go or it would have taken her down with it. The glass shattered in a massive explosion into thousands of tiny pieces.
Much to everyone’s relief, no one was hurt. “My team had a safety zone marked out around the stage,” she said. “The stage was at one end of the raceway area where all the Ferraris were parked,” she said despondently. “Just the worst people to see you fail epically.” She had planned on selling the painting to an eager buyer from the audience and now was out the cost of the expensive glass. “It turned out to be a performance art piece,” she said, laughing. “Such a spectacular fail. I have to laugh. At least no one got hurt.”
Mardi’s team and the team from the Hastings racecourse immediately picked up thousands of tiny glass fragments within 15 minutes. “Everyone was great about it, but my kids said to me, ‘Mom, you’re painting on canvas next time.’”
The creative artist likes to think big. She’s at work on another monumental piece, a 133-foot sculpture made of aluminum pipe. She has been invited to Cannes, France to show her Equus series but is seeking a sponsor and the finances to make it possible. She enthuses about the new collection, paint on plaster relief, which she describes as “hip and cool” with a touch of the industrial look. “The expressions are so human,” she said. For more about the artist, see www.mardi.ca