‘Good’ Art

I had the wonderful opportunity to see Spanish dance troupe Compañía Sharon Fridman this weekend here in Halifax.  Led by award winning Israeli choreographer, Sharon Fridman, this remarkable contact-dance based company from Madrid has toured Europe and Asia extensively, and Halifax was their North American debut. They were brought to Halifax by Live Art Dance (if you live an Halifax and aren’t a subscriber, you are a fool).

Whatever art it may be that I am observing, I have a sure-fire way to tell when I think it is ‘good’: when it captures my attention to the point of my being completely present for every bite, so to speak.  I might even sit straight in my chair for the whole duration, my jaw relaxes, mouth slightly open, and eyes fixed on what I am looking at.

This was the case when I saw this troupe.

Naturally, dance has to be abstract. It tells a story without the use of words. In the program, I read “The road we travel here crosses five emotional landscapes: loss, search, dream, falling in love, and construction”. Yet I was liberated from seeing any story at all, but instead was able to just be in the space with the emotion the dancers conveyed through executing the choreographer’s vision.

photo by Ignacio Urrutia

The two pieces presented, Hasta Dónde ( ‘Until Where’ ), and All Ways had a natural sense of flow, and a seeming effortlessness, which I appreciate hugely in any kind of art.  

In my mind, art is what you might call ‘good’, or perhaps I will be so bold as to say ‘pleasing’, when it is at once complex yet has the sense of effortlessness. I have that same experience when I eat chef Joe MacLellan‘s creations for his tasting menues at The Kitchen Table, for example.

Chef Joe MacLellan’s complex dishes capture my attention similarly.

Sharon Fridman’s dancers performed the choreography with tremendous fluidity, as if all seven dancers were one organism. Yet, rooted in contact improv, there were moments of unashamed intensity.  Its genuiness made the piece very personal. I found myself mirrored, and tears even filled my eyes. For no apparent reason at all.

Other contemporary dance performances may try to achieve a similar result, but they are often too literal  – too in-your-face. They try too hard to convey something.

Even the use of very specific lighting and fog, which often feel gimmicky, were well done here.  Contact-improv may be 40+ years old, but this fluid way of presenting it was new to me. Not one movement too many, none too few.  Each movement had its purpose. 

I strive to create my own work similarly.  Perhaps the organic flow of Sharon Fridman’s work is what spoke to me. In any case – if his work comes to your town – don’t miss it!

I was curious and checked, and it just so happens that YOU, VANCOUVER are the next lucky destination for this troupe. They will be at The Dance Centre next weekend, October 12-14 (the link contains this short video).  Buy your tickets now. 

A time of Fruition

I love this time of year so much – the abundance of the earth’s fruits evident everywhere. We also see of course the havoc which nature can create – my thoughts go out to those effected by the storms and turmoil in the world. It’s been an interesting year.

Harvest Abundance

The colours just about took my breath away at the Farmer’s Market yesterday

While I was in Vancouver for the Harmony Arts Festival, under hazy skies and a sense of worry from forest fires in interior B.C., several clients picked out gemstones from my collection, for me to put into custom-made Onefooter rings. I have been busy making these since coming back to my studio. Over the last weeks, I have finally been able to send them out.  It’s been such a joy to receive messages such as this one:

“Wanted to let you know I received your beautiful ring today. Love, love it!
Thank you for designing my one of a kind gift!”

This is the image which arrived with the above comment – how sweet!

I did not know this until she wrote that sweet note:  this custom ring with the Australian sapphire she chose on-site in WestVancouver was the present her husband gave her for their 33rd wedding anniversary! I was so touched to be able to play a role in such a milestone.
Similarly, I had created another anniversary gift a little while back – if you follow mean Instagram , you will have seen me write about it.

This was probably the most gorgeous sapphire I have ever had the pleasure to set!

This ring was celebrating 20 years. I had such fun working with the husband, whose care for his wife became evident in the meticulousness with which he worked with me, long-distance and via emails, to choose exactly the right stone.  I, in turn, worked with my stone merchants Martine and Benedicte from Pierres de Charme to find this perfect sapphire. And together, THIS happened!

I am very honoured and it fills me with joy to be able to do these very special projects. Here is another custom ring from Harmony Arts, in case you missed it on Instagram:

Lastly, this is one, below, I still have – it’s size 7.5, and is $980. The red spinel is just so pretty! Did you know spinel was recently added as a birth stone for August. True story.

Ok well I’m off to go sailing our little wooden sailing dinghy – probably one of the last times this year. Hope you are having a fabulous equinox weekend!

Balance

experimenting with stone placement for one of my Vancouver clients

After coming back from Harmony Arts Festival, there was much to do – catching up on gallery requests that had come in while I was away, and starting on the custom rings ordered at the festival in Vancouver.  It is always exciting to make custom pieces for clients with stones which they hand-picked. But it is also never easy – with each ring being unique and different, there is a lot of thinking, playing, and decision-making involved to figure out where exactly the stone should go.

Dana Grund and his family put on a lovely gathering to celebrate one year at King’s Wharf

 

And I was delighted to celebrate my colleague, custom jeweller Dana Grund‘s one year anniversary of being in his elegant new space at King’s Wharf in Dartmouth, NS.

 

 

 

Dana’s shop was buzzing with the celebrators last Saturday. Thanks for inviting me! I love that about the maritimes – this sense of mutual appreciation amongst crafters.

Dana Grund’s elegant custom design shop at King’s Wharf in Dartmouth

To celebrate what’s left of summer, and to assure balance in my life, I took a little bit of time off last Sunday, when I went sailing on the beautiful Nova Scotia shoreline. A couple of the photos here were taken by artist Shelagh Duffett, who has gorgeous photos on her blog  – click here to read it!

It was this exact shoreline that inspired my ‘Rock’ Series!

Let me explain what exactly I mean by ‘sailing’ – as there are many forms of that. As you may know if you have been following me for a while: I have a fondness for hand build wooden boats. Usually I prefer them kinda big – big enough to sleep and cook on. Our own little boat is the opposite – it is basically a tiny little, very heavy rowboat made of plywood, which can also take a sail.

 

The oars for rowing come in handy to get out of the bay on relatively still days like last Sunday. Photo by Shelag Duffett

But it gets us out there!

 

I love the sense of space, which sailing provides.

 

As dock space is expensive, we keep our “Gypsy Girl” in the woods. It’s quite the haul each time to get her out and back in. And we have to time our sails with the tide – can’t get the boat in or out unless the tide is high. But hey, what are a few compromises if you get to go out on the water!

Back on the dock, sail removed

There are several steps to making this happen each time

We have rigged up a pulley system to get the boat up the hill and into the woods

But eventually she’s all ready for the tarp – until next time!

All tidied up and tucked away in the woods

I took this photo on our way out of the bay. There is inspiration everywhere!

Seaweed is endlessly gorgeous

 

Thank you, Vancouver!

Thank you so much, Vancouver. Although slightly weighed down by the haze from the interior BC forest fires, the Harmony Arts Festival was once again a joyful event. I just love being in the company of such good fellow craftspeople – this community is so often like a clan, and such shows like a gathering of said clan.

Here is lovely Jan, harvesting artichokes from her garden, which she served for dinner!

In between the two show weekends, I took a quick trip to Salt Spring Island to visit with my colleague Jan Smith. Jan is a mover and shaker in the art jewellery community, and a true inspiration to me. While I was there, for example, she took part in an online live video US/Canada East/West conversation/panel discussion with ArtJeweleryForum.  Exchanging with artist such as Jan is invaluable, and I thank her and her husband Paul for hosting me so well. I had a truly wonderful time.

Jan’s wonderful studio, with some explorations laid out on the table

 

Some of Jan’s beautiful work in her studio

I am now back in Halifax – arrived last night, after a somewhat fraught, and far longer than necessary, journey.
I enjoyed meeting so many of people who had been eying my work for a while. Your appreciation fills my heart.  Some of you had been thinking about getting a custom Onefooter ring made for a while, and I will get busy on making the special one-of-a-kind rings with the the stones you picked at the show.  I look forward to it!

And then I will start thinking about getting ready for the equally fabulous CircleCraft Market, which will take place in downtown Vancouver’s Convention Centre, November 8 – 12.

Because I make every single piece by hand, it will take 3 months to prepare! I also have my over 30 galleries to consider, of course. So: it’ll be a busy next few months before I return to Vancouver.

November 8-12, 2017

See you November 8th!

Appreciate

I have quite a few Onefooters with genuine gemstones with me this year

The first weekend of Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver just ended, and there are now a couple of days of rest for the artisans, while other activities continue at the festival. I look forward to returning on Friday for a last few days, before heading back to Nova Scotia.

I always enjoy the great interest my work provokes here on the West Coast. It is a joy to meet the many people a beautiful, well organized event such as Harmony Arts (and CircleCraft in November!) draw. And I love being amongst peers whose work I truly appreciate.

People here at Harmony often are surprised that I come this far for a show – all across the country. The reason I do is because it is an excellent one – the competition to be able to exhibit here is fierce, and thus only the best work are shown, handcrafted under the highest standards. As a result, all the artisans exhibiting are amongst the best in their field – I love showing my work alongside such excellence. 

Tent after tent of excellent work

Speaking of high standards, though – there is one I wanted to bring up here.

As an artist rings tends to be my favourite ‘canvas’ for working in precious metals. When I bring these pieces before clients, I find it astonishing what prejudices folks have, particularly women, about their hands. Too long, too short, too fat (I advocate against this word in any case), too skinny. There is so little appreciation for one’s hands! The labour they might have gone through to make them the way they are, or our ancestral inheritances that might shape them. My own hands have aged hugely, after over a decade of working metals and hand tools, and being in dirt and water through my love of culinary arts and its accompanying perils.

Travelling for work as I am by coming to the West Coast for HAF, I sometimes fall out of my routines. One of these is that, at home, I have a daily dose of anti-inflammatory turmeric paste. I have really noticed a difference: rings that normally fit me, no longer go over my knuckles, now that I am not taking the paste. So if you have trouble with knuckles, and even if you don’t – consider trying this ancient remedy. I mix two thirds water with one third organic turmeric powder, and bring it to a boil with some black pepper (tells the liver not to discard the turmeric), and a good bit of coconut oil (as the delivery method to the cells). Boil while stirring, to make a paste.  Then store this paste in your fridge, taking a daily tablespoon of it (careful, as it acts as a blood thinner). You can add it to your oatmeal, or make ‘golden milk’ with a milk-type beverage of your choice and a touch go honey. Sometimes I add tea masala (‘chai spice’) to mine, or simply a dash of cardamom.

Thought I’d share this (my links are only examples; experiment!).

Mainly I want to send a message today for people to please appreciate their hands. Love them for all they are. Particularly if they are not currently causing you pain, and if they function well. Be grateful.

See you again Friday, Vancouver!

Come see me this weekend before I head back to Nova Scotia