WAKE UP is the title of the exhibit, currently on show at the
Charlotte Hale and Associates Gallery in Toronto,
featuring two Durham Region artists. But it could as easily have been called LOOK UP.
Both Lynne McIlvride and
Francis Muscat of Uxbridge Ont.,
draw inspiration from the spinning activities
of the sky around us; for McIlvride it's tornadoes, for Muscat it is orbiting planets.
While both artists are long time friends and have had exhibited
together twice before they each worked independently
on this show but the resulting works in textile,
wood and glass demonstrate a complex synchronicity
that speaks to their relationship and to this connected
global village we inhabit.
The bending twisting tornadoes McIlvride creates
from zippers, bobbles, scraps of fabric and thread are a way to externalise
the recent turmoil in her personal situation.
The Twister is the metaphor she uses to examine the turn of events in her life.
Previously McIlvride had lived and worked on a
farm in North Durham Region. Of course her
tornadoes instantly bring to mind the
force which took Dorothy away from the black
and white world of domestic bliss and into the
confusing Land of Oz, of flying monkeys,
singing munchkins and walking, talking scarecrows,
tinmen and lions. Dorothy's
tornado was ultimately benign and whether McIlvride's
turn out to be that way too is yet to be seen.
However it is worth noting that along with the fabricated
tornadoes on display there are also cats in various poses,
drawings cut out and placed in boxes on rugs of old knitwear.
It seems within the colourful chaos, the tumbling tumultuous
rotating form McIlvride began to discern something familiar,
something comforting and something of a contained energy,
a cat curled in on itself but ready to pounce. There is a pattern
after all, within the swirling, some governance within
the apparent disorder. Within the crouching tiger a hidden dragon even.
The drippings of the spinning cone do not deposit these
felines but instead they grow from the corona.
The cats arise from the rabbit
hole of the vortex. McIlvride has stared into the
tornado and seen these forms inside.
The work Muscat has created for the exhibit seems
to have come as well from staring into those spinning tops.
His curvaceous glass towers
are evocative of the Marilyn Monroe condos of Mississauga.
The topper, the last layer of glass had to
be more than just a tabletop however.
Muscat looked into the tunnel created by many
multi-coloured layers of glass and saw them come
together on one plane. Within the rotation he saw,
not the coziness of the home-front McIlvride saw,
but it's opposite, the vastness of the universe
and its constant circling. Inside the funnel he
saw the beginning of systems, of our systems,
of our existence: He saw planets. The spinning
orbits around Muscat's glass planets are made of silk
string carefully built up into concentric patterns.
They are as if he stole Van Gogh's starry starry nights
and sealed them, amber-like,
for the eternities.
Its been many years since Van Gogh took up a brush
but in the interim there are people who think
that the Dutch impressionist
was accurately capturing the turbulent flow of
light through a liquid sky. He may have been
painting math that is. And math is
just another word for pattern recognition.
Is Muscat's silk a road through the chaos, are his dwarf planets
stepping stones of glass out of our twisted world?
Marshall McLuhan chose Poe's tale of the maelstrom
to illustrate the world that electronic media would
bring into being. We are living that story now. The
storm of electrified information is overwhelming,
confusing, anxiety-inducing. McIlvride's tornados
are hers but they are also ours. This whirlwind world we occupy,
well its hard to stand-up to anything, for anything
as the ground shifts so quickly around us.
But McLuhan also left us a message.
He said watch for patterns and pay attention to the
pattern-watchers. Muscat and McIlvride have been looking up,
watching the skies, keeping notes and they are seeing
something there, patterns, something that may be something.
They are not saying what yet but watch these two artists.
Look them up and maybe you too will wake up to the world around you.
by Will McGirk 2015
Degrees: Recent Constructions and
June is a good time of year to think about the work of Lynne
McIlvride Evans. As nature creates displays of colour,
texture and shape all around every ditch and field resonates
with Lynne's work, densely packed shapes and textures,
When I first saw her work about sixteen years ago, it stopped me
in my tracks. It still does. Then all the characteristic
elements were already in place: the rich complex imagery,
the use of three-dimensional object in relief, the gorgeous
colour, and last but not least the intense spirituality. I
have followed her progress and watched her explore, expand
her vocabulary, and experiment with new ways of working.
This exhibition brings together threads of several different
explorations and looks back over about four years of intense
the nineteen years since she graduated from York
University's BFA program, Lynne McIlvride Evans has had a
busy and productive career. Her work is hard to place in the
spectrum of contemporary modern art. She marches to her own
drummer and explores themes that interest her intensely in a
unique and very particular way. Hovering between painting
and sculpture her meticulously executed works are packed
with imagery and symbolism, blazing with colour, mind
bogglingly complex and intricately constructed. This is a
delicate balance of spirituality, material exuberance and
craft. It is organic, sincere and authentic. Most
definitely, it is not ironic.
There are many Christian references. One of the few flat paintings
and the only achromatic work in the exhibition, Meditation
in Three Parts is a large work composed entirely of the word
Jesus, endlessly repeated as an act of meditiation and
prayer. Lynne describes it as a 'holiday from colour' and
says she started in one place, and allowed the design to
develop organically with no deliberate
making art is a form of worship for Lynne is particularly
evident in the labyrinth paintings. The designs come from
historical models found on the floors of mediaeval
cathedrals such as Chartres. Worshippers trace the path of
the labyrinth as a form of prayer. Lynne follows this path
when she is painting or constructing her works, just as a
spiritual life and her work are inextricably entwined. The
series of cross-shaped works in the exhibition show this
very clearly. She responds to the symmetry of the
equilateral cross. A richly painted cross-shaped surface is
the starting point. Inset beneath this surface is a riotous
and variable world of constructed shapes, found objects, and
work on the invitation, I Don't Know Where I Am But
I'm Pretty Sure I'm Drowning, is a cross inspired by
text, in this case a hymn from a book of prayers to be used
at sea. Parts of the text, lines of type cut from the pages:
...will your anchor hold in the floods of death,
when the waters chill your latest breath...for example, wind
about the surface to reward close observation. Beautifully
constructed three-dimensional objects, reminiscent of sea
creatures, fill the recessed space. On the surface waves
rotate around the centre and move along the arms of the
cross from coolness to warmth.
only found texts, make their way into her work. She is now
harvesting a long hoarded set of old bird books. This winter
a month in Italy, a visit to Assisi and reflections on St.
Francis inspired a bird theme and several new crosses will
incorporate these delicate and inventive
are some pictures of mediaeval alterpieces on her studio
walls, which she brought back from this trip. They combine
two and three-dimensions, sumptuous surfaces, rich narrative
imagery and great spirituality. They reveal what I think
might be the origin of this artist's inspiration and the
roots of her creativity. Her work celebrates, much as these
alterpieces do, the place of human beings in their richly
imagined cultures, their spiritual beliefs and their
connection to the natural world. She is speaking a universal
language in a particular voice.
Judith Tinkl - June 2004
Tinkl, after early studies in drawing and painting,
discovered quiltmaking in the early seventies. She has
combined an active career in the fibre arts with teaching
and administrative positions at the Ontario College of Art
& Design and involvement with various arts and crafts