March 1 - April 16, 2017
SAYWARD JOHNSON woven copper tapestries and forms
CHANDLER SWAIN ceramic centrepieces
opening: Sunday March 12, 1-3pm All are welcome!
Sayward Johnson is a fibre artist who works with metals in an unconventional way. In the manner of ‘soft’ materials like wool, silk and cotton, she hand-weaves copper or brass wire into intricately patterned tapestries on a standard loom.
They range in size from 18 x 18″ to 20 x 42″ when complete. Sayward then manipulates their shape and submerges them in a patina solution for days at a time. This results in random tones of oxidation from turquoise to deep blue/green. Beautiful hand-embroidery further embellishes the rich, abstract surface – creating a world unto its own and re-inventing a traditional craft along the way.
Sayward also creates woven or knitted sculptures from copper wire. Some manifest as soft folds of fabric and others as palm-sized ‘vessels’, patinated and coated in beeswax. All are marvelous examples of craftsmanship, sensitivity to materials and thinking outside of traditional parameters.
Chandler Swain’s multi-disciplinary approach to ceramics has won her a loyal following. Her recent work delves into figurative storytelling via anthropomorphised characters in utopian settings.
Always concerned with the way we can use fine craft in our lives, Chandler has constructed elaborate centerpieces meant to be decorative, functional and narrative. Technically masterful, they are hand-built using porcelaneous stoneware and coloured with stains, oxides, glazes and cold finishes.
Her table pieces are also central to raising awareness of the human propensity to control nature through the use of poisons. We all recognize that pesticides and other toxins can make their way into the food chain, often with devastating effects. It happens in our own counties and even in our own backyards.
Chandler’s narratives imagine a world of better human/animal/nature co-existence that embodies respect and mindfulness. A real illustrator at heart, she tells her stories with conviction, delightful fantasy and poignancy.
April 26 – June 4, 2017
EXCEPTIONAL a group exhibition celebrating General Fine Craft’s 5th year
A selection of gallery artists celebrate our anniversary with pieces they feel in some way represent the theme of ‘exceptional’.
featuring work in various media:
CERAMICS Susie Osler, Chandler Swain, Mary Philpott, Harlan House RCA, Anne Chambers, Marney McDiarmid, John Ikeda, Carolynne Pynn-Trudeau, Rita Redner, Michael Doxey, Paula Murray RCA, Monica Johnston, Michelle Bishop, Cynthia O’Brien, Mimi Cabri RCA, Don Cormier, Lisa Creskey, Maureen Marcotte, Richard Skrobecki, Leta Cormier, Jen Drysdale, Saskia Praamsma, Don Goddard
MIXED-MEDIA Meaghan Haughian, Stefan Thompson, Jennifer Ryder-Jones
PAINTING Norman Takeuchi, Kathryn Drysdale, Katherine McNenly, Lily Swain, Linda Hamilton, Jennifer Noxon, Mary Pfaff, Susan Ukkola
FIBER Jennifer Tsuchida, Carmella Karijo-Rother, Andrea Graham, Sayward Johnson, Diane Lemire
GLASS Eiko Emori, Rob Raeside, Janice Moorhead, Paulus Tjiang, Alexi Hunter, Mariel Waddell-Hunter
JEWELLERY/METALWORK Meredith Kucey, Barbara Mullally, Robert Pauly, Colin Hamer
WOOD David Solomon
How time flies! This spring marks General Fine Craft’s 5th year of business ensconced in the heart of downtown Almonte. We want to thank all of you who have supported us by regularly dropping in, bringing your friends and families and buying from our collection of outstanding Canadian fine craft and art.
Craftsmanship is the key, so from day-one we have maintained a mandate of showcasing some of the best Ontario and Quebec-made contemporary decorative arts (both functional and experimental craft media) and 2-dimensional art. If you haven’t yet, please visit to see for yourself the wonders that come from creative minds and skilled hands.
We want to celebrate the value of original objects that are hand-crafted in Canada.
From April 27 – June 4, General Fine Craft has a special group exhibition featuring new work by many of our gallery artists. The theme and title is Exceptional – the meaning of which is open to their interpretation. Artists have submitted individual pieces that may represent great personal achievement, a rare one-of-a-kind project or perhaps an experiment that lead to a change in the direction of their work.
This is a chance for us to celebrate their skill and accomplishments, and for them to celebrate 5 years of our enthusiasm for their inimitable work.
see Gallery Photos page for more images of all our exhibitions.
Join us on Saturday April 29 from 3-5pm to raise a glass of cheer. Many of the artist will be present to answer your questions and share details of their work.
June 6 – August 19, 2017
FLORESCENCE, SPRING TO SUMMER
ANDREA VULETIN porcelain pottery
MARY PFAFF abstract paintings
Join us for the opening/meet the artists on Sunday June 18 from 2-4pm
Spring is the season we anticipate all winter long, bringing with it an incomparably joyous feeling. So it’s not unusual that artists should be inspired to portray this amazing period of extreme flourishing.
Two artists who interpret the season in different ways but with similar enthusiasm are painter Mary Pfaff and potter Andrea Vuletin. Florescence, Spring to Summer is a feature exhibition of their newest work.
For Mary Pfaff, spring conjures a lush life; a time of transformation, unfolding, revealing, nourishment and new energy. Gardens are an exciting, ever-changing place for her, where all the senses come alive. They are filled with a myriad of colours, light and textures that create a sort of visual dance.
Pfaff wanted to capture this ‘lush life’ in her new work. To do so, she utilized negative (‘thin’) space to contrast the more pigmented areas. She found that the wood panel surface changed dramatically after applying plaster to it. The way the paint flowed onto the surface felt different and exciting, allowing her to scratch and draw through to the sub-straight with new feeling.
The sense of adventure – this dance of creativity – is one aspect of Pfaff’s work that is always at play.
Imagination is of course an enormous part of an artist’s life and livelihood. Throughout winter, potter Andrea Vuletin was hard at work in her studio ‘imagining’ spring in order to create a body of work for this exhibition.
Vuletin’s work is revered by pottery and plant enthusiasts alike. An avid naturalist, she is inspired by the flora and fauna near her home in Chatham, Ontario.
She has a decorative plan in mind when forming her pottery on the wheel or by slab construction. Her shapes reflect the gentle curves of plants emerging from the earth, providing a framing element for lyrical, finely incised and painted insect and botanical imagery.
Despite the enormous amount of work that goes into her pottery, the intention is entirely humble. Vuletin says, “As always, I hope my pots are used to celebrate every single day.”
While Mary Pfaff’s interpretations of ‘florescence’ are innately abstract and Andrea Vuletin’s exist in the realm of realism, both artists’ convey universal ideas of renewal. General Fine Craft invites you to experience the different perspectives they explore and how the exhibition captures the colourful energy of this wondrous season.
August 22 – September 17, 2017
THE TORNADO AND THE QUIET PLACE
RICHARD SKROBECKI earthenware ceramics
There is incredible beauty and power in the image of a tornado. It’s immediately recognizable and, by association, has an emotional impact on the human psyche.
Such an intense visceral connection is a metaphor for the inner turmoil associated with the full range of human emotions including joy, pain, confusion, guilt, ecstasy, grief, creativity and love.
The Quiet Place can be seen as the calm before the storm or the aftermath that leaves one in awe. It is the antidote to turmoil, mania, or sadness; a place of stillness, peace and introspection.
At times we feel that the world is in turmoil; everyone has their way of turning it off. Your Tornado and your Quiet Place are whatever you make them.
September 19 – November 5, 2017
PAINT, PAPER & FLOTSAM
JENNIFER NOXON new paintings and constructions
Jennifer approaches art-making with serious intent and a playful visual intellect. In past painting series, she has explored abstract elements found in nature, resulted in dynamic, colourful compositions. Her 2015 series of digital paintings Almonte Riverwalk presented beautifully rendered interpretations of iconic Almonte riverscapes.
Paint, Paper and Flotsam is an exhibition of three types of new work: small paintings on panel, found plastic constructions, and a 3-d digital print array installed across one wall of the gallery. Each series informs the other in wonderfully surprising and ironic ways.
At the core of her new show is the ‘flotsam’ series which she began two years ago. “Walking the beaches of Lake Ontario,” says Jennifer, “I picked up bits of colourful weathered and water-worn plastic. I didn’t have anything in mind at the time – but there was a certain thrill to the collection process. The bits and bobs went into my pockets and, eventually, into my studio.”
She took time to carefully consider this collection and assemble them into small cartoon-like sculptures. “As I played with these found pieces, I thought a lot about where they might have come from, the affect discarded plastic is having on our waterways and natural systems, and just how much we depend on plastics in all aspects of our lives. It’s an overwhelming issue and I hope the irony of my playful response is not lost on people. The bright characters tell seemingly simple, even innocent stories – yet the metaphors suggest darker tales of what could happen in the future.”
Jennifer is as poignant and sensitive in expressing her social conscience as she is when manipulating paint with brush. Evolving from the plastic constructions, her series of acrylic on small panels depict convoluted geometric shapes with elements of landscape and her signature playful colour palette.
The plastic pieces appear again in an amazing, long array of folded paper imprinted with digital photographs. It was a creative solution to an idea she had to make a large wall piece. “I got very excited when I started scoring and folding the paper… and look forward to spending more time exploring this. I’ve always been intrigued with the place where the two dimensional meets the three dimensional.”
Please join us at the exhibition opening and meet the artist on
Thursday September 21 from 7-9pm.
November 7 – December 31, 2017
PLAY OF LIGHT
JAY LI oil paintings
opening / meet the artist: Sunday November 19 from 2-4pm. All are welcome!
“The western art of painting is an art of visual space.”
Jay Li is admired by artists and collectors in the Ottawa region for his representational oil painting techniques as well as his clarity of vision.
This selection of work includes his rarely-seen landscapes and industrial interiors distinguished by their qualities of natural light, subtle shadows and sure brushwork.
As a teenager, Li was selected to study traditional art forms in his home province of Canton, China. Wanting to learn about western art techniques, he then spent 9 years living in Greece and travelling to visit the great art museums of Western Europe. He says that throughout his career he has focused on the, “continuous exploration into integrating artistic expression and approaches from both Chinese and European traditions.”
This has manifested itself in many genres of painting including still life, portraiture, landscape, nudes, architectural interiors and forays into abstraction. He often paints from life but is astonishingly adept at painting from memory.
In recent years, Li has been drawn more and more to representing landscape. Rural areas of the Ottawa region have emerged as his perennial favourites, especially at the height of autumn colour. His winter paintings, which feature the subtle exploration of grey tones, take direct inspiration from the ‘mood landscape’ school of mid-19th and early 20th century Russia and Poland.
Li moved with his family to Canada in 1998. He currently has a light-filled painting studio in a former mill in Carleton Place, Ontario.
The retrospective catalogue Jay Zhijian Li Fine Art is available for purchase here in the gallery.
April 5 – May 15, 2016
ROB RAESIDE recent blown glass
ALEX TAVES works on paper
Join us for the opening and meet the artists on Sunday April 10 from 1-3pm
Raeside and Taves work in very different media and aesthetics but that doesn’t mean they don’t have similarities. Clearly both these emerging artists are driven to working in series, a method which allows them to develop their ideas thoroughly – and which can lead them in unexpected directions.
ROB RAESIDE calls his latest series of blown glass forms Summa (Swedish for sum). In craft, a good work is the sum of all its parts: material, form, colour, texture, pattern, balance. The union of idea, experience and skill equates to the materialization of a finely crafted object with a sense of timelessness.
Raeside feels he is constantly striving to improve his eye for design and his hand for glass. His current bottle forms, bowls and cups attest to the growth of this emerging artist since leaving Sheridan College School of Craft in 2012.
Rob’s approach characterizes the inherent complexities of what appears to be simple in form but which is actually very technically challenging for a glass blower. Inspired by the Scandinavian design of his childhood home, he explores the subtleties of line and balance to create beautiful, sensitive objects that speak as much to design as they do to craft.
ALEX TAVES’ collection of androgynous ‘portraits’ reflect a fascination with the human face. Visually bold in the language of Picasso and Hockney, they are intuitively made by collaging layers of media – much as a DJ manipulates the pitch, base and speed of recordings to fit the moment, in the moment.
His compositions are based on digitally printed images that have been cut and pasted together with the addition of paint and drawing, giving an overall sense of artistic playfulness. But these androgynous heads, with neutral expression made up of re-arranged bits of facial details, are truly enigmatic. Slightly blurred and dizzying, it’s hard not to be suspended in fascination by them.
Taves has a background in graphic design and digital media arts, which explains his vocabulary for visual manipulation. He is also a self-described ‘silent observer’, studying people in public spaces in an attempt to see the underlying stories of their lives.
May 17 – July 3, 2016
MAUREEN MARCOTTE porcelain pottery
BARBARA MULLALLY fine jewellery and enamelware
Join us for the exhibition opening and meet the artists: Sunday May 22, 1-3pm
A working potter for over 35 years, Maureen Marcotte is well known in eastern Canada for her use of incredibly detailed patterning and translucent glazes.
Her pottery is wheel-thrown, moulded or slipcast using a fine porcelain clay that is strong and white. She makes a wide range of functional items for daily food service: wonderful cups, mugs, bowls, plates, and vases for the display of fresh cut flowers.
Using a wax-resist technique, she combines intricate geometric designs with compositions of leaves, flowers or butterflies. Much of her inspiration comes from textile and carpet designs of the British Isles, the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. She says, “I am constantly thinking ahead to new work, experimenting with various ideas and techniques. The result has been a steady evolution in my work, a refined and nuanced intensity in surface decoration on a variety of porcelain shapes.”
Marcotte has BAs in Visual Arts and Art Education. She lives with her husband potter David MacKenzie in Wakefield, Quebec where they are an integral part of the region’s arts community.
Barbara Mullally is as passionate about creative challenges as she is about the technical challenges of working in metal. In her words, “I am seduced by fire, by the tools, the malleability and transformational qualities of metalworking.”
Mullally makes jewellery that is thoughtfully designed and labour-intensive. Her earrings, bracelets, rings, brooches and pendant/necklaces are fabricated from sterling silver, copper, semi-precious gems, bone and unique stones. She takes her time when carving faces from bone, chasing imagery into silver, hammering delicate forms, cutting patterns and imagery through silver sheet, patinating a surface to bring out texture and, of late – the delicate process of enameling. She also sets gems and stones in silver bezels to enliven her pieces with colour, depth and sparkle – often to amazing effect.
Much of Barbara’s work follows specific themes. Her ‘Critter’ series captures ‘moon-faced’ creatures inspired by Celtic transformation myths. A sense of nostalgia and humour infuses other series based on popular stories, limericks, slogans and mythologies. Never assume that tongue was not firmly in-cheek when she came up with some of her ideas!
The village of Clayton, Ontario is where Barbara lives with sculptor Robert Pauly. She is lead organizer for the local annual studio tour and part-time docent at the National Gallery of Canada.
July 5 – August 14, 2016
CHANDLER SWAIN figurative ceramics
MEAGHAN HAUGHIAN 2-d mixed-media
Join us for the exhibition opening and meet the artists: Sunday July 10, 1-3pm
Chandler Swain lives in Blakeney (just outside of Almonte) along the Mississippi River where water, earth, sky and animal life influence her daily. She says that, “it has been so powerful to watch spring unfold in the forest: the magic of this rebirth after a long winter is very profound when one can see the changes on a daily basis.”
Her new ceramic work takes on functionality and the figure in delightful and thought-provoking ways. She hand-builds figures and trees using porcelaneous stoneware, colouring with stains and glazes before firing them. They are animated, poignant and joyous.
She dedicates this series of work to “the folks who created and maintain the forest paths we get to walk each day – which includes the volunteers from the Almonte Fish and Game Club, Stephen Brathwaite, Greg and Marianne Smith, and the forest management team at the Mill of Kintail.”
For decades Chandler has been a huge influence on other potters and artists and an advocate for the arts in the Ottawa region – indeed, across Canada. Among many other endeavors, she has established The New Art Festival, 260 Fingers and General Fine Craft. She’s also a pottery teacher, exhibition juror, overall humanitarian and (as anyone who knows her can attest) an inspired ideas person!
Ottawa based mixed-media artist Meaghan Haughian has a youthful energy which parallels Chandler’s, so it’s very appropriate that they’re showing together at this time. Meaghan received her BFA from Mount Allison University in 2004 and has since been active at a grassroots level in the Ottawa arts scene.
Her studio work incorporates painting, photography, printmaking, collage and stitchery techniques in a 2-dimensional format. Thematically, her latest series focuses on the dualities that exist in life’s most significant relationships. In this work, figures appear and disappear from view, replaced with patterns sewn into the image surface.
She seeks to “capture the experiences and emotions that we share collectively as human beings but often experience in isolation… searching for balance and connection: interior and exterior, presence and absence, hope and despair, growth and decay.“ Discover your own connections in her subject matter and unconventional techniques!
August 16 – October 2, 2016
LETA CORMIER reduction-fired ceramics
MARY PFAFF paintings, drawings and mono-prints
Please join us for the opening and meet the artists: Thursday August 18, 6-8pm
LETA CORMIER has passionately worked through ideas of ceramic functionality and design over a career spanning more than four decades. She has developed a signature flare for statement pieces: bold geometric forms with subtly built-up texture and glazes. Her work embodies the discipline and poeticism of pottery-making. It has a strength that comes from years of thoughtful studio work, an innate understanding of the medium of clay and from her own vibrant personality.
Cormier’s early influences included early 20th century studio potters like Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada. She has since travelled and studied pottery traditions of Japan, Korea and China. The ancient Cycladic culture, African textiles and masks are also rich sources of reference for her work.
She makes pots to be used in the rituals of daily life. This chosen focus on the vessel form provides endless opportunities to investigate concept and structure. She says, “within this context, the relationships of idea, form, texture, and surface intrigue and engage me in exploring variations on themes”.
The world around her plays its role too. Cormier says, “the natural environment – landscape – and its individual elements, remain strong references for my work.” This can be seen and felt in her technically accomplished glaze surfaces: deep metallic blacks or warm greys that are smooth like river rock but have depth and beautifully subtle variations.
Leta explains, “It is my hope that the pieces convey a unity and vitality, an honouring and sensibility to the qualities of the material and process and that they open a space for communication with the user”.
MARY PFAFF’s paintings and drawings explore life’s experiences, the mysterious beauty of nature and free expression. They are quietly powerful things that can dazzle your senses and fill you with emotion. For this exhibition, Mary presents medium to large-scale canvases, framed drawings and a selection of prints.
Attracted at an early age by Abstract Expressionism and later by the calligraphic styles of artists like Cy Twombly and Joan Mitchell, she has developed a distinctive artistic language that is always evolving. Pfaff says, “to paint is my lifelong aspiration – and favourite verb!”
Pfaff approaches her work with determined energy, guided by instinct and intuition. The results are symphonic in their orchestration of light and dark, colour, texture, line and form. She uses layers of various media – acrylic paint and medium, graphite, charcoal, water-soluble pencils, wax and oil paints to create abstract compositions. She calls the process “a wordless conversation” and “a fully sensual experience”.
A photography term that Mary finds relevant to her work is Miksang, meaning that “the mind is relaxed and open, free of interpretation”; one can “see from the heart” and become more available to the things surrounding her/him. This is an important element of Mary’s work and perspective on life – reflected in her dynamic, fully realized emotive works of abstract art.
October 4 – November 13:, 2016
JACOB ROLFE new silkscreen prints
MARNEY McDIARMID hand-built porcelain
Please join us for the opening on Sunday October 16 from 1-3pm
JACOB ROLFE is a Nova Scotia-based artist known for his illustrative prints depicting some of life’s more important issues including: literacy, the environment, organic farming, dreams… and cats. A new series presented for this exhibition at General Fine Craft explores the subjects of meditation and trans-personal consciousness, topics which intrigued him while travelling in New Zealand.
Jacob uses a multiple silkscreen technique to print colourful images on archival papers. His work is distinctive in its use of cartoon-style anthropomorphism, complex patterned backgrounds of inter-twining plants and organisms, poignant slogans and dream-like landscapes. Full of contrast and irony, they also have a charm and familiarity that can quickly draw the viewer into the world of the artist’s imagination.
Raised in Ottawa, Jacob is an actor as well as a screen-printer. He studied printmaking at The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (Halifax), politics at Trent University (Peterborough), and now lives on the south shore of Nova Scotia.
He spends his days between the east coast and Ontario, travelling to distant lands with a backpack when he can. His experiences and observations of the world are the inspiration for his work.This winter he will be studying meditation at Kopan Monastery in Nepal.
The Eye of Consciousness
“This collection of screen-prints is inspired by my experience studying meditation over the last half decade or so.
I used to think all the time. Indeed, I had always equated consciousness with thinking, assuming they were one and the same ie. to be conscious is to think.
While travelling in New Zealand in 2010, another traveler recommended a book called A Brief History of Everything by philosopher Ken Wilber. It literally blew my mind.
In it Wilber points out that the thinking mind (the stream of thoughts that is constantly flowing through our heads and which we tend to totally identify with) occurs within a wider field of awareness. Through meditation, one can break this total identification with the thinking mind. As one meditates (say, by focusing on the sensation of breathing) and ignores the mind, the mind eventually quiets down and becomes very still. By becoming aware of awareness (or conscious of consciousness) in this way, and resting in that observing awareness, thoughts are experienced as objects in awareness. These come and go, without one’s awareness becoming lost in them.
In the words of Wilber, “In front of you clouds parade by, your thoughts parade by, bodily sensations parade by, and you are none of them.”
In this series of prints, I have tried to capture the idea (or an impression of this open expanse of awareness) in part to help inspire and energize my own meditation practice, but also to convey the concept of consciousness without thought to others, and perhaps inspire them to investigate the nature of their own awareness. Enjoy the show!”
MARNEY McDIARMID lives and maintains an active studio and teaching practice in Kingston, Ontario. She has been working with clay since the mid-1990s and is largely self-taught. In 2010 she quit her PhD in Cultural Studies to embark on a career in ceramics. A long-time community activist, Marney supports clay and craft groups though her involvement with the Kingston Potter’s Guild and the Fat Goose Craft Collective.
Marney’s technique involves hand-rolling porcelain slabs to the desired thickness, impressing with pattern, painting and drawing, then cutting and constructing with them. It is a careful process but one that is full of possibilities in terms of form and surface treatment: from her unconventional bowl forms of wonderful patterns and textures, to vessels with decal imagery pertaining to cultural location/identity/mapping, to her Garden Jar series of pillow-y forms alive with colour and organic growths.
In many of Marney’s series, the element of play is prominent. As she explains, “Play is a moment of possibility. It is a state of engagement that asks ‘What next? What else? How about this? It opens up a dialogue about what is possible, and it posits how things can be different.Embedded in this is nostalgia for a time in which play was closer at hand.”
November 15-December 31, 2016
The General will be fully stocked for holiday shopping during this season!
Visit us for the finest selection of hand-crafted functional and decorative arts to be found in eastern Ontario.
Richard, Meredith and Chandler