As I mentioned on Friday, I spent part of last week helping to install the exhibition The Absolute Way of Things, so this post will be about that process and some of the concepts behind the work. The show is sponsored under the Royal Bank of Canada Artists by Artists program. This is a mentorship program under which I mentored Saskatoon artist Monique Martin. The majority of the works on display are Monique’s.
The first step was to lay out the work. Here are things ready to go.
We started with the most complicated work, Ordinary to Impossible. This is a large piece consisting of 124 tessellating (edges matching whatever the layout) panels. The first step was to establish a grid on the wall. This was done using a carpenter’s tape, a laser level, and a chalk line.
After the grid was established, Monique used a pre-made wooden guide to set the nails on which the panels hang.
It sounds quick here, but probably took close to six hours with up to four people working on it. Some of the original chalk lines had to be re-marked as there was a tendency for the chalk line to sag slightly in the middle because of the width of the piece. (I hate learning experiences.)
Under ideal circumstances (not available in this location) the work is interactive. There are more panels than can be hung at one time, and the viewer could change panels as they choose. As an alternative, Monique will go to the gallery once a week (during public tours) to change the order of the panels. About one third of the panels have hand colouring added to the base lino print. Monique will gradually add more colour so that the piece will become yellower and yellower.
I think of this piece as a book: it has pages and the potential for ‘reader’ interaction. It just happens to be hung on a wall.
I should mention that part of installing any exhibition is standing and staring. Here is a picture of (left to right) myself, Monique, and gallery assistant Veronica doing that important job.
The second work to be mounted is also large, consisting of five lino print panels called Going 1, Going 2, Going 3, Going 4, and Gone. It was simpler to install but still required a fair amount of ladder work.
The last of the large wall pieces consists of the woodblock print Continuous paired with the hand carved block from which it was printed. The block was printed three times to create the piece. Monique plans to produce another version of this work printed on the full length of a roll of masa paper.
Finally, the smaller works were set up in display cases. Two book works —the smaller box/book is mine, the larger fan-shaped one is a collaboration with Monique— went on the plinth at the foot of the stairs. (I will be writing about the books in a future post.)
We Are All Linked, a ceramic sculpture consisting of interconnected hexagons, was installed at the other end of the gallery. This work is part of a much larger outdoor installation of Monique’s that was mounted in early December. To emphasize the idea of colony collapse, which is part of the message of the piece, Monique added dead bees to the work.
I will save the story of the dead bees (another learning experience) for another post.
All done except the labels and lighting:
You can read Monique’s artist’s statement and see more of the works in this series here.
Many thanks to Veronica and my husband David for their hard work, and to David for some of the images.