Landscapes appreciates the small wonders of Albertan nature
The prairies are not a fragile place, so to see their essence represented in glass is quite a strange and wonderful thing.
Landmarks is an artistry exhibition that examines the intricacies of the Albertan countryside through glasswork. It’s a collaboration between three passionate and dedicated artists, each skilled in their craft.
“For Landmarks, both myself and my husband Tyler [Rock] and Katherine Russell, the other artist whose involved in the show, we all have spent I would say significant amounts of time in Western Canada but also in Australia,” says glass artist Julia Reimer. “One thing I noticed when we were living in Australia, that was similar to living in Western Canada, is there’s a really big influence of the landscape on what people make in terms of art and craft. It’s a big voice that’s translated into artwork often, and so all of our work is really influenced by the landscape of Alberta.”
The title of the exhibitions comes from a book by Robert Macfarlane on the power and importance of landscapes, that Rock was reading while trying to find a unifying theme for all three craftspeople’s works. The pieces range from a pair of crystal antlers to cyan spider web like bowls and vases. It’s a process that is just as beautiful to watch as are the finished works.
“I was unpacking some of the work at the gallery yesterday and it was sort of like this happy revisiting,” says Reimer. “Sort of like going ‘Oh wow, I remember this piece. It’s so beautiful.’ Katherine made this, it’s sort of like an oblong platter, but it’s got all these … they’re called marini, which is like a kind of traditional Venetian glass technique.” “They’re like little circles that are sort of encased in the glass. It’s so beautiful, just the decorative qualities of it. The design, the colour palette. I’m positive it’s the first piece that’s going to sell in the show, because it’s just so gorgeous,” she continues.
The relationship between the three artists is remarkable.
Rock grew up in Northern Saskatchewan and rather than follow his father into wildlife biology, decided to pursue art at the Alberta College of Art and Design. Reimer likewise pursued glass blowing at the college, and is now working together with Rock from their Firebrand Glass Studio in Black Diamond. Russell is a former student of Rock’s, and now a proper artist in her own right.
All three artists’ work explores similar themes inspired in part by the decorative elements of nature.
“I think each of the works creates kind of a little bit of a focus on an aspect of our environment,” says Rock. “It’s been thought about, and then reflected upon, and then created as a work of art. I’m hoping that people can sort of, as they go through, both see our intention but also the natural beauty that’s implicit in the material itself.”
What makes glass artists stand out isn’t just the fragility of their craft—it’s harder than that. Riemer says glass artistry is a team sport.
“When you work with glass, you’re always working with other people,” says Reimer. “It’s not like painters or potters where it’s a really solitary activity. You’re often working collaboratively and you end up developing these great relationships and for us it’s really nice to see that development in people’s careers in our community.”
Sat., Sept. 2 – Sun., Dec. 24
Alberta Craft Feature Gallery