Two Sunshine Coast painters, cloistered during COVID-19, collaborated to produce a series of connected works that were unveiled at The Kube gallery in Upper Gibsons on Jan. 6.
Marlene Lowden and Teryl Mullock were serenaded by the Billy Hill Picker Band at a boisterous opening reception organized by gallery owners Jill Pilon and Jody Youngren.
Process in Parallel. Abstracts. features large-scale canvases by Lowden and Mullock. Lowden works primarily in oils, depicting dynamic landscapes of feeling and memory. Mullock uses acrylics and spray paint to produce his emotionally-charged and richly-textured abstracts.
“We hatched the idea a few years ago of doing a show together,” said Mullock, who transitioned from full-time architectural practice to mixed media art in 2016. “For all the work that’s shown at The Kube, we worked together in parallel.”
In addition to exchanging ideas through regular conversations, Lowden and Mullock co-created a work, the roving, which is displayed in the gallery’s front window. Its flame-like tendrils and flailing fronds suggest a restless organic energy.
During the heat of COVID-19 restrictions, the two were reluctant to occupy the same space. Instead, Mullock began the work and dropped it off at Lowden’s studio. She made some marks and sent it back. The process continued until the two artists finally met to work out the final composition by combining constituent designs.
“We both work with very distinct shapes,” said Lowden. “I knew Teryl’s language from being familiar with his work. The one thing that was surprising to me was his use of some bolder colours. And I think I subdued some of my colours. It was kind of interesting that we were challenging each other, reflecting each other.”
Lowden is also an art educator who regularly runs courses in painting rudiments, colour and composition. “Every time I teach, I learn more,” she said. The process of demonstrating her own work to students provides opportunities for reciprocal enrichment — and risk-taking.
“I bow down to all of my artist friends who are willing to put their work on the wall,” she added. “It’s like: here are my guts on the wall — my version of beauty, or my version of the pain that I’m working through.”
The revelatory vulnerability admired by Lowden became a hallmark of her collaboration with Mullock.
“As artists, the biggest challenge is letting go,” said Mullock. “When you take a piece of work and give it to someone else, you have no idea of the direction it will take. It’s quite liberating. Scary at the same time, but a good lesson.”
Themes of the artists’ separate works hint at a fecund exchange of ideas. Lowden’s verdant to slow down answers the aridity of Mullock’s the longest day. Mullock’s lost in the light reflects the chimeric pursuit in Lowden’s a dream you try to remember.
The two artists slowly developed an unspoken sense of when works were nearing completion. “At first, you’re almost creating in a void, or a vacuum,” said Lowden.
“But you’d get to a point where you’d say, ‘That’s it,’” added Mullock. “We’d both feel it. It was the first collaborative thing I’ve done, and I was surprised.”
Process in Parallel. Abstracts. is on display at The Kube gallery until Jan. 30. Exhibition details and image previews are available at thekube.ca.