Complementary exhibitions rooted in the foreshore and forests opened at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery with record-breaking attendance during a public artists’ reception on Sept. 24.
Over the day, 170 visitors admired works by artists Ryley O’Byrne, of Roberts Creek, and Fae Logie, of Bowen Island. "It's the most people we've seen on one day since last year's Art Crawl," said gallery manager Christina Symons.
The sculptures of O’Byrne’s Textures of Ritual draw parallels between natural selection of marine organisms and technological evolution of humans. Glazed stonewares of the Subliminal slug series overtly allude to primordial life. Coral-like shapes of everyday tools (Hanger, Round Pot, and Bronze fork) subtly reflect the organic processes that made their users.
“This is not how we’re used to looking at technology,” O’Byrne said. “It’s natural. It’s cellular. We’re growing to embrace it, while the natural world is growing to embrace us. Our mobile phones, which we caress at night and when we wake up, have become a tunnel to intimacy, to our loved ones. Technology opens the door to creativity that we couldn’t have imagined when constrained by more organic forms of technology.”
O’Byrne’s Earphone holder, in the shape of an abalone shell, and Altar, whose elemental protrusions cradle a mobile telephone, suggest symbiosis between undersea species and the touchstones of 21st-century life.
“Single cells bump into each other and create larger cells, multicellular organisms,” said O’Byrne. “And now we’re evolving further, in a way that’s creating a technological transcendence.”
The show is O’Byrne’s first solo show on the Sunshine Coast since 2006, although she contributes regularly to local art projects and events. Meanwhile, she recently exhibited multimedia work for the City of Vancouver and screened her short film Immaculate Virtual at a dozen festivals worldwide, including the Le Festival Silhouette in France where it won the Prize for Hybrid Work.
Textures of Ritual takes its name from a video presentation that appears as part of the exhibition. In it, O’Byrne uses artificial intelligence to animate a sequence of undulating filaments, prompting rumination on novel forms of creativity.
Growth is also a theme of Fae Logie’s Urban Forest Works. A recent transplant from Port Moody to Bowen Island, the multidisciplinary artist completed undergraduate studies in science in the mid-1970s before studying fine arts at UVic and UBC. She has exhibited across western Canada, in the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Using sculpture and photographic prints, Logie blends domesticity and dendrology through the convergence of constructed and organic artifacts. Her plaster-molded Fungus is on display in the gallery while also pictured in situ, affixed to a fallen tree trunk. The bright-coloured metal makeup compacts of Trap Line also appear in a photographic print, adorning fissured bark.
“Some of the sculptures are really immediate,” said Logie. “It’s a found object. I put it together, put it upside down or add something, and then think: that’s really all I want to do with that. Then I move onto something else. I think it’s sort of an additive effect, where one idea leads to another, once it is as resolved as I want it to be.”
Logie’s interest in urban forests arose from correspondence with a collaborator who regularly ambled in Epping Forest, north of London, England. A decade ago, the two artists made audio recordings of what Logie calls the “dawn chorus” — the unique aural symphony of a forest awakening at first light. They exchanged the recordings, playing them in their respective forests.
The Bark Drawings series by Logie features painstaking depictions of tree textures using conte crayon onto mural-sized canvases, faithful to the whorls and wounds that mark cedars, spruces, and firs.
She draws each artwork one section at a time, rolling the paper substrate like a scroll. The process becomes a metaphor for the fragility of forests. “You have to really modify your mark-making,” Logie said, “and it’s a risk because you don’t really know what it’s going to look like until, in a way, it’s vanished.”
Urban Forest Works and Textures of Ritual remain on display at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery until October 16. Hours and details are available online at gpag.ca.