Slow Art

Jasper is located in a National Park, and April is the month previous to the busiest time of year for the residents of Jasper.  The opportunity to look at art slowly, to be welcomed into a Museum to look and forget about the hectic world outside was met with great anticipation. Such unfamiliar territory…

I suggested as the ‘viewers’ arrived that they each take a journal and select one or two pieces from the exhibition to focus on.  The following text is from the journals.

Paulette: I walked into the room.  Bear called.  There was Raven.  Bear called again.  From the centre of my brain he was calling, he was calling and I kept circling.  Then the moon and her phases catch me on the left.  Bloom into dark places where things are born.                  Red chakra bleeds down his legs.                 This bear has no claws. No mouth. Such small eyes – those two can be liars.                  The ears, are the big part, one dark one clear.  No gold here like on his feet.  He stepped in the honey is all.  Sometimes, the sweet things in life are there to slow us down.  Like walking through honey.


I am drawn again to the eyes and the frost, the pattern on the face.  I wonder how an artist can ‘contain’ ‘produce’’coax out’…’birth’’vision’…’dream’’pray’ such elegance and not go insane. This is not a sculpture.  The inside is hollow hello, it is speaking from the inside.  It’s still moving, I wonder if there is a room big enough for this piece?  I wonder if it will fit under my coat? He belongs outside? 

(for the full text from this viewer please ask)

Small remote communities are often full of treasures yet can lack a sense of inclusion that larger arts communities have.  Jasper’s humble ‘small town’ museum has the usual walk through our history displays, high points along the way include famous people who have been here, connections to the rest of the world through world events like war and peace.  AND then it has a beautiful big room for exhibits and gallery showings.  Behind the displays of patronage to the monarchy and institutional colours is a room that the Museum has created for showcasing the art and soul of the region.

Love Spell by Marla Pollock

Sharon:  Love Spell.  Little child, wings, infinity.  Raven, cosmic joy, moon, freedom.  Love.  The dreams of magic and what the future will hold.  Its all happening, past present future.  This picture for me is about infinity.  At first it was childlike wonder that attracted me to it.  But in the end I felt the whole continuum of life and a sense of wholeness completeness.  Love the colour and the name.  I felt love, the innocence of a child, protective and unemotional.  Lavender moons, feminine energy.

Sharon is the clay artist…if anyone can understand the process of slow…it is a clay artist.  The stages of creating from clay to bisque to glaze to completion is not for the impatient.  Even after working through the winter on her exhibition pieces she finds the time to stop and look a valuable exercise.

Earth Keeper by Sharon Anderson

Sharon:  Earth Keeper, by Sharon Anderson.  Interesting she hasn’t found a home yet.  She looks like stone not so much like Raku.  It seemed to me that the Goddess came from the cup…I didn’t see that before.  The intent is the same as when I created her – but I think I need more introspection – maybe that is why I am taking her home.  This piece seems to be in my life right now in some form or another in conversations.   There is a letting go as you put the piece in the kiln.  Time is very important to my work.

                As a curator (not of this show) and observer for the day I imagine the journals of the two artists talking about their own work were the hardest to write.  I find artists are often immediately their own worst critics…but after an hour of sitting with their own creations…

Athena by Marla Pollock

Marla:  Athena, by Marla Pollock.   This busy highly decorative piece appeals to me because of its joyful central figure.  The whole effect of scattered jewels in contrasting colours.  The more you look the more you discover!  The hand turned into bird, the feathers turned into fern branches, the dominant snake come to tempt or embrace Athena?  Do you see the claws, antlered fish, skull, heart, waves, a palm laden with fruit…what was Marla thinking?

Needless to say the lunch after the hour in the gallery gave way to much chatter.  Not only do we seldom spend an hour inside our heads and hearts looking at art…it is equally seldom that we spend an hour in silence.  Recurring themes and thoughts from the morning were obviously very relevant to the subject matter of the exhibit.   The journals overflowed with the ideas of compassion, wisdom, healing, earthy, imaginative, harmony, richness, beginnings, portals, movement, freedom… playfulness.

Would an exhibition of more dramatic imagery/black and white photography/or digital media result in a different conversation?

Would a different group of people have written different journals?  Or does the art have the power to direct the writings?

Does looking at art slowly change the viewer and/ or the viewing?

 We look forward to next year to have some way of comparing the process.

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