“Art should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality
and reveal a part of us we never knew existed.”
Bill Evans, Jazz Pianist
You know the place; all artists do. It’s a place like no other, the very reason for our existence. As depicted in the accompanying sculpture, “In the Sanctuary of the Universal Mind,” it’s like diving into a strange surrealistic world of ethereal clouds where the imagination flows and the emotions of our mind are revealed. Creativity is not a conscious state. It’s subconscious. You don’t really know where you are. It’s the place where time stands still in a matrix we do not understand, but know we never want to leave.
Creating my crystal art is similar to entering a pristine crystal-lined room where there’s no door, and for however many hours one might be inside, time stands still. Butterflies appear caught in motion as unforeseen patterns of nature reveal themselves in kaleidoscopic patterns and human figures seem to appear and disappear. When the moment of creativity stops, you become an observer of what has been created – as if it has been done by someone else.
After 30 years, one might imagine I would be tired of working with the material but I am not. It continues to fascinate me, providing the perfect canvas for my hand-engraved dreamscapes. From the very first time I made a mark on crystal, I have been captivated by its refractive properties, and how it could make reality move in surrealistic directions, leading the viewer to imagined worlds where images could twist, distort and reveal.
In the early part of my career, major commissioned works gave me the knowledge and experience I required to experiment with my own artistic interpretations. These are the essential building blocks to working with a material where a single mistake can cost thousands. If commission work is best described as a tightrope balancing act with the benefit of a net below, then creating subconscious art of any kind, is a bold tightrope walk with no net, simply an abyss to swallow you up.
Sadly, craft is in short supply these days in a world that puts an emphasis on mass production, automation and quickness. However, I believe deeply that our human investment in craft matters more than it ever has – it’s where our humanity lives, through our art, imagination and human skill. We need to harness, encourage and continually perfect these skills of craftsmanship.
Similar to my crystal art, literature is an art of illumination. Every author wants to shed light on some truth no matter what form the writing takes: fiction or non-fiction. Writing is a pursuit of knowledge and understanding; the desire to bring attention to a story that needs to be told, whether it be about a person, an imagined life, an issue, a part of our history or the human condition. This is why literature is important. We’re not only enriched by it; we’re connected by it.
The upcoming exhibition ILLUMINATION – Portraits of Canadian Literature + Authors, is a celebration of Canada’s great literary community, presenting 150 photographic “Portraits of Canadian Authors,” and 12 hand-engraved crystal sculptures based upon passages on LIGHT by 12 Canadian writers. The project is a celebration of craft – the time it requires, the dedication, the imagination – something I feel is important in today’s world.