120114-Contained-1Jeanne Beneteau, Northumberland News
COLBORNE — 'Contained', the theme of this year's group exhibit presented by Colborne Society of Artists' members, promises to unveil an eclectic range of artistic interpretation.

"The idea of our annual themed show is to choose a concept that is purposely vague, allowing each artist to express it in their own unique way," said society president Barbara Buntin.

To Deborah Uman-Sures, a Cobourg-based painter who will share her take on this year's theme during the upcoming group show, the theme conjures up that which is hidden, kept inside, whether it be a person, idea, object or environment. The bulk of Ms. Uman-Sures' work routinely focuses on people — brilliantly-hued, bold characters with expressive and abstract bodies, "rather silent but contained, restraining everything," she explained.

"Contained seems to me to be a superb choice, but it took me a few weeks to realize the concept has been brewing in me for quite a while… that something beneath the exterior, things we hold onto or do not reveal," she said. "It feels comfortable and quite exciting for me and for this show, I will be true to myself and honour the show's concept."

In day-to-day work, so much of what an artist does is built on faith, a certain inner strength and a confidence to continue searching and doing while there are so many approaches to developing a work of art, Ms. Uman-Sures explained. First there is the process and then, the struggle to evolve.

"A worthwhile visual is fed by a sense of purpose and trust, no matter the difficulties. It's an organic entity," said Ms. Uman-Sures. "All aspects combine in just such a way — somewhat mysteriously — that a new whole is created."

The interior of the artist's greystone townhouse offers a stunning visual kaleidoscope, with ceiling-to-floor canvases propped up against vanilla-hued walls and in some cases, covering the floors. Her entire home is a studio. "I've worked in every room," but her south-facing dining area, with its large windows, provides beautiful light, especially early in the day, she noted.

Although there has been a huge swing over the past 20 to 30 years for artists to produce work based on a theme or stated concept, there are those who dive into the work without a clear picture of the end result, she noted.

"They just start — work, explore and journey through the thing — using their expertise, skill at execution and eventually know if a piece works well, whether it needs more work, needs to be altered or just scrapped," she said.

The upcoming group show, as with any exhibit, will reward sensitive, patient viewers, prepared to push their way through each piece of work to uncover what lies beneath the surface, said Ms. Uman-Sures. The Colborne Art Gallery, which opened in 1997 and is housed in the town's historic registry office, provides Colborne Society of Artists' members the opportunity to exhibit and sell their works year-round, explained the society president. The gallery is cooperatively run by its members, who are selected by a juried application process, noted Ms. Buntin.

"Although we (artists) don't physically work together in a space, there is constantly a cross-pollination of ideas, which benefits everyone," she said. There are 18 members on the current roster, but the gallery is always looking for new members, she added.

'Contained' opens Jan. 28 and runs through March 4. Admission to the Colborne Art Gallery is free. Winter hours (January, February, March) are Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information on the gallery, its artists, collections or upcoming exhibits or events, visit www.thecolborneartgallery.ca. To view works by Deborah Uman-Sures, visit www.dlumansures.com.