The Contingent Body
brings together the work of painter Carol Pollock and sculptor Donna
Brock in an exploration of the figure in paint and stone, and some of
the approaches it can inspire. This exhibition opens at the Chapel
Gallery on Saturday 23 with a public reception between 1pm and 4pm.
part of the show comprises figurative studies that offer a range from
subtle abstraction to full-on representation. Holding
Apples is one of the most abstract pieces in the collection, whereas
many others such as Home Guard
have evolved in a more representational manner. I let them
self-determine as I go along,” says Carol.
contribution to the show consists of stone sculptures presenting human
forms emerging in various degrees of abstraction,” remarks Donna. “Promise,
a moderately representational pregnant female form of gentle pink
soapstone, leads to Promises,
a large abstract suggesting multiple female pregnant forms in green-gray
Appalachia soapstone. Advance, a small male torso emerging from white
dolomite contrasts sharply with Suffering, a large male torso of gnarled
orange and white alabaster.”
has always drawn and remembers her mother drawing at the kitchen table.
When Nipissing University began offering fine-art classes in
Bracebridge, Carol jumped at the opportunity to further her knowledge
and skill. Works by painters Carol sees in museums and online provides
her with inspiration but more recently, it has been images from the past
that she can relate to and that reflect the human condition.
have a cache of ever-growing images from which I choose something that I
find intriguing; often they are of women or children,” explains Carol.
She begins by usually draw on a primed and toned canvas using the
photographic images as a reference and then begins to paint.
“Throughout the process, I am drawing then painting then drawing again
until the image resolves itself,” explains Carol. “It is an ongoing
exploration. My mantra comes from Picasso: Every piece is research. My
aim is always to try to convey the ideas I have about my chosen subject
matter – how it reflects the broader human condition and to expand my
is a 4th generation stone carver through the men on her
father’s side of the family. “Spending time with my dad at the stone
shop was special, as he answered my questions about all the processes
and equipment being used,” recalls Donna. “Interestingly, my father
tried to discourage me from pursuing stone carving and I didn’t take
it up until after he passed away. I think he would have enjoyed my work.
I know I would like to have shared it with him,” reveals Donna who
honed her skills at the Haliburton School of Art & Design where she
completed a one-month intensive stone carving course in 2004 and then a
sculpture certificate program in figurative and representational work in
the spring of 2008.
Donna begins a new sculpture, “it’s the chicken-and-egg question –
which comes first, the idea or the piece of stone? “Once I have both
the stone and the idea, I remove the excess stone by the easiest means
possible,” she explains. “Reductive sculpting is a bit tricky as
once the stone is gone, there’s no replacing it.” To remove the
stone, Donna uses the tools of the trade – hand and power tools, angle
grinders, air hammers and sometimes a hammer and chisel. After roughing
out the shape, a series of files and rifflers are used to refine the
shape and remove tool marks. Then, hours of hand sanding creates a
smooth, highly polished finish.
being brutally demanding physically, stone carving is really dirty work
and there is absolutely nothing dainty about it,” says Donna. “My
greatest challenge is to be in tune with the type of stone I’m working
with, understanding what it is capable of and the type of tools I need
to coax the intended sculpture out of it.”
artists hope to connect with the viewers. “I work from found
photographic images and I think most people can find themselves or
someone they know in these forgotten moments. I hope they can appreciate
the transformation that takes place when they are explored in paint,”
explains Carol. “My hope
would be that viewers experience some visceral response to my work,
preferably a positive one but a negative one is acceptable too,”
states Donna. “It would mean that something in my work touched them
deep inside, not just a cerebral response or intellectual calculation of
the work’s meaning. I want them to feel something! I want them to have
a relationship with my sculpture from the core of their being.