© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY DOUG GALLANT
Island potter Ron Arvidson displays some of the works he created for a new exhibition at The Guild in Charlottetown. That exhibition also features paintings by Island artist Brenda Jones.
P.E.I. landscapes inspiration for exhibition by Ron Arvidson and Brenda Jones running at The Guild in Charlottetown until Nov. 2
By Doug Gallant
Nature has long been a source of inspiration for artists.
They are drawn by its seemingly infinite palette of colours, by its many textures, by its immense diversity and by its awe-inspiring beauty.
It has been so since the first would-be artists attempted to depict the world around them some 40,000 years ago.
A new exhibition at The Guild in Charlottetown views nature through the eyes of two artists who work in very different mediums but are inspired by many of the same things.
A Natural Focus, on display until Nov. 2, features new works by potter Ron Arvidson and painter and illustrator Brenda Jones, both inspired by nature and the landscapes of P.E.I.
Arvidson originally pitched the idea for the exhibition.
He proposed to mount an exhibition that would feature some of his own work but would also feature an artist whose work would take up more wall space.
“I was open to displaying my work with another artist, preferably a photographer or a painter.
“I knew Brenda (Jones) fairly well and thought her work, which is nature centred, would be a nice complement to mine. I approached her and she was good with the idea,” he says.
Arvidson has some 60 pieces in the exhibition from small mugs, bowls and plates to large vases and containers.
“When I first began thinking about the exhibition I planned it around making the plates and the containers,” Arvidson says. “But when you start to do stuff like that other things come to mind. I’m always trying to come up with new things.”
Most of the works in the show were created within the past 12 months.
Those familiar with Arvidson’s work will notice some subtle changes in his colour palette.
“I’ve been trying to go to a more natural colour pallete, I want to use more earthy colours.”
Arvidson said he tried to incorporate pieces into the show that are quite different from the kind of works other people are creating.
He says he’s always looking to see what other potters are creating and is open to new ideas.
“I’m always looking in craft shops and flipping through magazines, looking for inspiration.”
Nature continues to be a huge source of inspiration.
A number of the plates in the current exhibition, for example, depict images of crows.
“I do a lot of birding,” Arvidson says.
“I’ve always been interested in nature and drawing and I do a lot of photography as well.”
Jones has some 15 of her paintings in the show, most of them inspired by woodland images, rural themes or water.
“I moved back to the Island five years ago and since then my life has been taken over by exploring all of the things about P.E.I. I hadn’t taken time to see when I was younger,” Jones says.
“I’ve discovered lots of beautiful landscapes.”
All of the works in this exhibition are stand-alone works with the exception of one piece, which she created as an illustration for the Hugh MacDonald book, I is for Island, A Prince Edward Island Alphabet.
Most of the paintings in this show were done last winter, working from photographs she took and sketches she made while exploring the Island.
Jones says the landscapes of P.E.I. continue to be an immense source of inspiration for her.
“The colours in P.E.I. are so vivid and the contrasts are something you just don’t get anywhere else,” says Jones.
“When you get the red clay and the vivid greens and the patchwork-looking hills, the combination of colours is amazing.”
Almost all of the works in the shows are inspired by things Jones has seen here.
But one work, Truth, which depicts a young woman sitting under a tree, is solely the product of her imagination.
That painting, one of her favourites, has images of several animals woven into the bark of the tree, which you may not see the first time you look at it.
“That didn’t come from a photograph but from my own psyche. It was completely imagined and it’s very symbolic in my own life, it spoke to me. It started out as something completely different but evolved over about a month. It evolved with the process and I like the process. I let the painting take me somewhere else,” says Jones, who is currently working on a new book so the landscapes featured in this exhibition are the last people will see from her for a little while.