Art exhibits come and go but those that focus on figurative works, especially with an emphasis on nude figures, are very few and very far between in this neck of the world.
And so it’s a fine moment on the city’s cultural calendar that Drawing on Life has landed. What is also noteworthy about the show is that it is the culmination of years of group effort by Catharine Compston, Carroll Charest, Deltra Powney, Judy Martin, Sharon Moore-Foster, Daphne Cote, and Nancy Corrigan. They were all drawn together by a common interest in having their own model come in to pose.
Martin, a former Gazette artist of the month, said that she used to go in to draw or paint at Harcourt House, one of the mainstays for such sessions in Edmonton, but only when she could get a ride there. Coming in from Stony Plain was a bit of a burden, so she thought it would be much better for her to arrange something a little closer to home.
“If I couldn’t get there, I figured I could get them here,” she said. “I found out that there was a need in this area for people who really wanted to do life drawing. So we got ourselves a really nice group of professional artists.”
“It was just a great way for us to share the cost of a model and to be able to study from live models so close to home,” Cote continued, noting that it used to take her 90 minutes to get to Harcourt House from her house in the winter. That also meant another 90 minutes to get back.
Her work is primarily figurative where most of the others in the group focus on other subjects such as landscapes or still lifes.
“In school, they used to do a lot of figurative work. They wanted to get back to that, to have the practice to inform their everyday regular studio work. That was a good way to do that.”
Charest offered the artists’ statement that the collective came up with to describe the show: “Like nature, life drawing is raw and energetic. It is immediate, demanding, hands on, and meditative. And like life drawing, each member of this group also brings her own dynamics and energy to our sessions. We have found in due course that we have gained in different ways from these occasions.”
The group has been meeting like this a few times a month for a few years now. One can just imagine the volume of work that they surely have been saving up to finally display to the public for the first time.
“I overwhelmed them!” Martin exclaimed. “They won’t have room for everything.”
This group of artists clearly has a passion for the subject matter. Powney added that each member is fairly prolific in her own right, so attendees should expect a fair representation of work on the walls.
“I’ve been doing figurative work for almost 25 years… a long time, but it’s always been something that I’ve just done on the supplement my art practice. I’ve never focused on it.”
Having the informal group to rely on has become a gift to her. It offers them all a chance to be experimental in their own way.
“It’s just a wonderful community we have. We’re very diverse in our backgrounds but it adds to the camaraderie. It’s lovely.”
Drawing on Life
Works by Catharine Compston, Carroll Charest, Deltra Powney, Judy Martin, Sharon Moore-Foster, Daphne Cote, and Nancy Corrigan
Show runs until Friday, Aug. 19. The opening reception will be held next Thursday, Aug. 4 in conjunction with the August Art Walk from 6 to 9 p.m. Artists will be in attendance.
VASA is located at 25 Sir Winston Churchill Ave. in the Hemingway Centre for the Arts. Call 780-460-5990 or visit www.vasa-art.com for more information.