By George Farrell
Published Sept. 26 2017
It’s been such a busy summer for Rails End curator Laurie Jones and her team that it’s somewhat surprising the latest exhibition at the gallery was presented at all. But presented it is and see it you should because it’s a very special exhibition. It’s Fireworks 2017 a travelling juried exhibition of more than 40 hand-crafted works in glass and clay representing craftspeople from across Ontario and beyond.
Fireworks 2017 is presented by FUSION: The Ontario Clay and Glass Association and the tradition of these exhibitions has been ongoing for nearly 40 years. Held biennially the works are displayed in a few galleries throughout Ontario for a period of two years.
According to Jones the association “is a wonderful advocacy body for people who work in clay and glass and the organization is working so hard in celebrating these crafts.”
“And Fireworks 2017 is representative of the best in ceramics and glass in Ontario” she said.
Ceramics and glass seem to be having somewhat of a renaissance and locally as an example the ceramics course at the Haliburton School of Art and Design is experiencing record enrolment. “So the exhibition is great for the students to come and see” Jones said. “It’s also great to have it up at the same time as the studio tour because it helps to put things in perspective.”
Jones was referring to people seeing ceramic and glass objects being made and exhibited in local studios and then being able to see some of the finest examples of those genres on exhibition in the gallery. This year for the first time in Jones’s memory there are pieces in a Fireworks exhibition by two Rails End members: Yael Novak and Renée Woltz.
Because Novak and Woltz are also on the studio tour and would be too busy to talk at an opening reception and because all the rest of the craftspeople and artists live outside the county Jones thought it best to have a soft opening though she said she might have a small meet and greet sometime later.
The exhibition consists of eclectic pieces ranging from wonderfully designed functional teapots courtesy of Toronto potter Hannun Lynn and Keith Campbell from North Bay to bowls mugs and jugs. There are also art pieces such as Seraphim on Chibim by Debra Sloan from Vancouver. Her ceramic entry depicts a white glazed cherubic nude with electro-static hair.
I especially liked the presentation by Mark Fink from London Ont. His trio of ceramic objects consisting of a vase stevedore hook and tea tin though alluding to the British North American Act of 1867 reminded me more of South American offerings perhaps due to the ochre-hued tile-like surfaces.
But my favourite was Old Posts by Heather Wood of Elora Ont. Her offering consists of two wave-like interlocking pieces of blue glass. A scene on the glass shows either a dawn or dusk sky very reminiscent of that seen in van Gogh’s Starry Night. Below the sky the scene illustrates vestiges of a human presence that are being ominously broken down by the eerie encroaching forest.
Fireworks 2017 is filled with many wonderful art and craft pieces that will appeal to many tastes. “It’s a gorgeous show” Jones stated and I heartily agree. The exhibition is at the Rails End Gallery 23 York St. in Haliburton until Oct. 29.