Vessels – January 25 through March 2, 2014
by  Annie McDonald, member of The Colborne Art Gallery

ves·sel   ˈvesəl/ 
noun: vessel; plural noun: vessels

  • 1. 
a ship or large boat.
  • synonyms:

boatshipcraftwatercraftliterary bark/barque "a fishing vessel"

  • 2. 
a hollow container, esp. one used to hold liquid, such as a bowl or cask.
  • synonyms:

containerreceptaclebasinbowlpanpoturntankcask, barreldrumvat "pour the mixture into a heatproof vessel"

The members of Colborne Art Gallery are about to open our annual theme show entitled Vessels.  Deciding on a theme goes like this: months ahead of time members of the co-op deliberate on a list of possible themes and then vote from a short list of favourites each year.  The theme that develops from this process then stretches us beyond a place of comfort where we might normally stay in our work.  A willingness to take risks is an attribute that most contemporary artists share though, and we do step up!

Ceramic artists call all clay pots vessels and functional potters can devote whole careers to developing nuanced forms of exquisite beauty, as CAG members Terrie MacDonald and Susan McDonald have done.

OvumAll of our artists will be responding in a variety of materials and interpretations to the theme.  Four of CAG’s members have commented on interactions with the theme Vessels.  Judith Kreps Hawkins states, "I find it a challenge to balance the conventional idea of a vessel, e.g. a conveyor of liquids, or a ship, with a more abstract notion, e.g. the mind carrying an idea and expressing it. That being said I find my own work suggesting double, difficult entendres, putting one type of vessel within another one, to suggest yet another, as in "Ovum" (seen at left);  or the play on the many meanings of vessel portrayed in an oblique, fractured way, as in "Biograph".

“I've chosen to focus on the vessel as watercraft, using the iconic image of a canoe as a means to navigate over the water's surface as well as through imagination”, writes Barbara Buntin.  “The shape of the canoe is a simple, beautiful container and provides a means to skim along the water and travel to remote and peaceful corners.”

Member Pat Stanley interpreted “vessels” as containers and also “ships”.  She writes, “ I am currently working on a series of paintings that depict various colourful nebulae in the sky, combined with very earth-bound images of expressways, cars, trucks, etc. The vehicles are “containers”, of our bodies, our belongings, our merchandise, all of our gravity-shackled finite lives. These “vessels” in the paintings are monochromatic and surrounded by grey concrete – roads, overpasses, parking lots. Everything is anchored to the ground. Yet in the sky are stars, asteroids, nebulae, the stuff of dreams and of infinity. The nebulae not only fill the sky, they crawl into and through our vessels – and in the latest paintings, maps like navigation aids can be seen in the background. Are they maps of highways, of circuit boards, or of the stars? If we look up from the ground for a moment can we use them to sail away into space?

Rod Bergeron viewed the theme differently.   “I suppose that vessels can be a container.  I'm going to approach the gallery as the container. I have a large group of fish I believe there are six, that combined are a large piece of assemblage I would like to suspend from the ceiling. “

I’ve heard of biblical reference to bodies as “vessels of the holy spirit” with God as the potter and we as the clay.  There are numerous, mind-bending possibilities!

Judith Kreps Hawkins probably represents us all when she writes, “while working with a theme in mind, it often leads me into unexplored territory as I automatically research the word and its origins, past & present, and make fascinating connections.  Themes are a delightful invitation for us to take artistic license!”  

Vessels opens at the Colborne Art Gallery, 51 King Street, Colborne – on January 25 with an opening reception from 2-4pm, artists present. The show continues through March 2.  Admission is always free and all are always welcome!

The Colborne Art Gallery
51 King St E Colborne ON 905 355 1798
Gallery hours (during shows) January – March, Saturday & Sunday noon to 4 pm