Blog Hop Around the World

I’ve been invited to participate in a Blog Hop Around the World,  in which people share something about their current projects and creative processes. I think it’s a lovely opportunity to learn a little bit more about the work that goes on ‘behind the studio door’, and see the threads that run through creative work of all types across the globe.

My thanks to June Hunter – The Urban Nature Enthusiast for the tag! June creates beautiful photographs and photo-based  art, home decor pieces, and jewellery items in her Vancouver studio. June and I share a passion for corvids – ravens, crows, magpies and the like – and I really appreciate her keen eye, and her ability to capture the intelligence and quirkiness of these creatures.


So … to answer the Blog Hop questions:


I think like most artists, I have several things on the go at the same time in the studio and otherwise. This is a life of juggling: there’s the time spent in the studio, making work and sorting through ideas, of course. But I spend a good deal of time on the ‘administration’ of my practice as well: writing exhibition proposals and grants, keeping my files and expenses in order, keeping on top of the work flow, materials orders, and contract details for upcoming exhibitions, and doing a little self-promotion via the web. Add in taking the time to see other artists’ work at exhibitions, volunteer work at various art-related organizations, laundry, gardening, a little downtime, and sleep … and it’s a pretty full life.

Currently, I am preparing for a big two-person exhibition that will open in January 2015.  I will be showing some of the NEST series that I have been working on and refining for the last couple of years. The images below are from the last time this work was exhibited, at the Art Gallery of St. Albert.


I’m quite excited by the way the work has evolved, especially in the last year;  I have several new pieces well underway, and at this point (maybe that should read ‘for now’!)


I am happy with the way things are developing. I’ve been doing some writing about the background “raw material” for  newest pieces I’m working on, which you can find here and here.

Outside of studio time, I am also just back from a short trip – I was in Toronto for the CARFAC National Conference ‘Artists to Artists’ for five days.

carfac nat logo



CARFAC is a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving the socio-economic position of professional visual artists in Canada. CARFAC has been instrumental in establishing a professional fee structure that pays artists for the use of their copyrighted work and for their professional services: exhibition fees, copyright payments for image reproduction, payments for artist talks, and so on. I’m really looking forward to re-connecting with the artists that I have come know through CARFAC, and meeting a bunch of new faces too! Back home, I volunteer my time on the Board of Visual Arts Alberta-CARFAC, the provincial affiliate for CARFAC National.



This is by far the most difficult – and interesting – question I’ve faced in some time. Perhaps it comes down to approach. I see myself as having several things in my ‘toolkit’, that I take out and use or experiment with, depending on the subject of a given piece or body of work. That is to say, I don’t use just one method of expression or image creation or discipline within the visual arts. That makes me a bit hard to pin down for some – because I don’t fit neatly into one category … and I quite like that on a number of levels.

I have two distinct (but increasingly related) “threads” to my practice. One is studio based, and results in a range of output, including photo-based 2D work, drawings, assemblages, block printing, and some sculpture.

Digital Photo on Silk Organza; YORK project, created with Marian Switzer


Installation view, Naess Gallery
Archives of Absence, Installation view, Naess Gallery (with Catherine Owen)


Title: nesting practices
Sculpture, installation view; pvc, wire, gimp. Dimensions variable (approx 60″h x 36″w x 36″d)
Installation view, suspension: 75 small void nests 44" x 44" x 60" approx; charcoal on vellum, dipped in wax; each image 4" x 4"
Installation view, suspension: 75 small void nests
44″ x 44″ x 60″ approx; charcoal on vellum, dipped in wax; each image 4″ x 4″


The other is very much away from the studio, and revolves around creating large-scale, site-specific installation and sculpture.

... view down a covered walkway between structures
Make:Believe … view down a covered walkway between structures


long shot showing the entire installation and both cutoff points, offset in the beach, August 31 2013
long shot showing the entire installation and both cutoff points, offset in the beach, August 31 2013



In terms of materials and formal elements, my studio-based work often is created with transparency in mind, and on translucent or transparent substrates, and that’s not tremendously common. I am drawn to layering and accretion in image making, and also to the idea of ‘peeling back’ and exposing elements that rest below the surface – literally and metaphorically.



I am fascinated by narrative in many ways – that’s my training in literature talking!  But really, what I’m getting at here is the connections between stories and things and places … and how all of those things work together to contribute to our understanding of identity, of self.

I guess really I am a ‘closet phenomenologist’ … I work with things and the way our understanding of things tells us about how we perceive the world and ourselves.  And how changeable and slippery all of that is … that’s the fun part.


I begin with an issue or idea that I need to investigate. It’s really about exploration and detective work in a way: I use the work I create to explore ideas about how we live in the world and make sense of who we are in relation to it.

So, things like time, memory, absence … ideas about home, identity … these areas are the jumping off points for the creation of work.  Reading and research – and writing – offer things that flesh out the ideas, and bring me to starting points for making work. For example, the NEST series that I am (still) working on began with rereading Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space – chapter 4 concerns nests in particular.

In the end, it’s about communicating. Finding threads of common experience, and talking about living in the world through visual means  – because for me, sometimes words can’t quite transmit what I see or want to say.

It’s about find a path through it all, and occasionally making sense of it.

(en)compass, 2014


(en)compass, Bay of Fundy, July 2014

And it is now my pleasure to pass the Blog Hop on “across the Pond” … to Emily Hughes at Searching to See.  I’m really interested in hearing more about Emily’s process and sources of inspiration – and I think you’ll enjoy hearing from her too!


8 thoughts on “Blog Hop Around the World

  1. Really interesting post. It is refreshing to see installation work. I very much like the silk organza piece in the photos…..very, very cool.

  2. Such a fantastic post, Sydney! Although I have been following your work for a while, it is luscious to see lots of it collected here in one post. I love the way you create transitional pieces outdoors, but the interior installations are so cool as well. You are very inspiring!

    • Thanks so much Linda! It’s all process, all the time. Learning from each thing I do. Some projects coming up in the next few months – I’ll keep you posted!

  3. I loved reading about your journey with your art. I’d love to see the Nest series and intetested to see wher you go in your quest for ways to interpret transparency. Looking forward to seeing what Emily will come up with. Great post Thanks

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