I gave a workshop last Monday, May 2nd, on my technique for making sugar mosaics. Here are some photos of what we worked on. A lot of fun was had by the participants as well as me! I have loads of ideas to add for future workshops, so stay tuned for updates on when those will be. Thanks to Suzanne Spahi at Mosaikashop for hosting the event.
If you are familiar with my work, you know about my sugar tile murals. I make the sugar tiles by hand, then paint them, thus creating the mural. But a looooong time ago, I made a cake that looked like a mosaic table top. It was classic broken tile mosaic (for those of you who know mosaic lingo). I even had some "grout lines" on top that were created with carefully combed buttercream icing. And, to top it all off, edible nippers made of marzipan. Delicious!
So I'm teaming up with a mosaic atelier in Montreal to do a one-day workshop on how to make your own mosaic tile cake. I'll cover how to make the sugar fondant, tips for painting the imagery, making the mosaic and finally applying it to a cake. And when it's all done, we'll eat cake! What could be better!
Monday, May 2nd from 10am - 4pm
If you want to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org
All the details are on the MosaikaShop blog:
Hope to see you there!
In honour of International Women’s Day I want to give a shout to some notable women in public art in the great city of Montreal (the place I call home). But before I do that, let’s have quick look at the numbers.
About a year ago I looked at the representation of women, on average, who were awarded public art commissions through the City of Montreal’s public art program since 1950. While this is not a scientific poll, and this is only one of the commissioning avenues in the city, I think it presents a realistic average of how many woman have, and are today, involved in public art:
1950-1975: 3 out of 48 artists were women (6.25%)
1976-2000: 18 out of 118 artists were women (15.25%)
2001-2015: 17 out of 48 artists were women (35.4%)
This sample group certainly shows that the involvement of women making public art has increased considerably, but in my opinion, we still need more ladies in this industry!
Here are some of those mould-breaking ladies who paved the way for me and others in the (still) male-dominated field of public art, in no particular order.
No survey of public art in Montreal would be complete without talking about Marcelle Ferron, and it’s certainly not for tokenism. She was a power house in the art scene and created timeless artworks. Even if you don’t recognize her name, you’ll surely know her stained glass work at the Champ-des-Mars Métro station. http://artpublicmontreal.ca/en/oeuvre/verre-ecran/
She was also part of the automatiste movement and signed the 1948 Refus global manifesto. Read more about her whole history HERE
On a personal note, I came to know her work when I was shortlist for my first public art commission. It was at a seniors centre in Brossard, called Centre d’accueil Marcelle-Ferron. There is a large aluminum sculpture of hers outside the building, so that prompted me to do more research on her. I won that first commission, (Seen here) and I still feel pride for even incidentally being associated to her name.
Known primarily for her textile work, Micheline Beauchemin was commissioned for numerous prestigious pubic art works in the country including a 23-metre-by-13 metre curtain for the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. She worked with crafts people at the Kawashima Knitting Mill in Kyoto, Japan to make this curtain as it was the only mill large enough to handle the size of the curtain.
In Montreal, we can see her work "AILES COULEUR DU TEMPS, NUAGE DE SOLEIL" (1983) at the Palais des Congrès. Comprised of suspended synthetic strings, this creation is made of 7000 aluminum rods with mirror finish, at a height of between four to twenty feet and a length of 38 feet.
She also won the Governor General's Award for art in 2006. Read more about her legacy here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/quebec-textiles-artist-micheline-beauchemin-dies-1.855578
You have likely heard her name a lot recently, due to her monumental sized artwork, HAVRE (seen here and below) installed outside the new McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). It faces the front facade of the building, close to my indoor mural Structura Habitata (seen here), which is at the entrance of the Royal Victoria wing. While HAVRE is a stunning piece, especially when experienced from the inside, looking up at the sky, Covit has created many artworks across the island of Montreal. Another one my favourites is in Lachine, smaller in scale, but no less in presence, called Theatre for Sky Blocks http://artpublicmontreal.ca/en/oeuvre/theatre-for-sky-blocks/
While doing research for this post, I came across a book called "Stealing the Show: Seven Women Artists in Canadian Public Art” by Gunda Lambton. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s definitely on my next read list. http://www.amazon.ca/Stealing-Show-Artists-Canadian-Public/dp/077351189X
My work is inspired by many things and if i look back at the seeds that were planted to help me build a foundation in the public art profession, I don’t have to look any further than my mom. It is not just the work but what it represents and today it’s about recognizing the place I have because of those who paved the road before me.
I'd love to hear if you have a favourite public art work done by a female artist. Drop your top picks in the comment section below.
I’m up to my eyeballs right now in writing proposals: funding, exhibitions, festivals, commissions and just general hunting for opportunities. I’m in the phase that I call “the substrate". It isn’t glamorous. There are no juicy photos to post. I’ve been a bit silent on social media, so some may assume that I’ve got nothing going on. But in truth, that’s when most of the real work is happening.
Spending my days writing and researching can be tough for an artist like me who often just wants to be left alone in my studio so I can turn my brain off and make things with my hands. But ultimately, I love the final product of building a big project, both in scale and in outreach. So I need to put a lot of pieces in place first. There’s no instant gratification in building foundations but of course, we all know what happens if you build on shaky ground.
Whenever I get impatient, and feel like a big project will never take form (because I need more funding, or more partners, or more x, y, or z) I remind myself about Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the legendary installation artists (http://christojeanneclaude.net). Some of their projects took around 10 years to accomplish, from initial plan to final realization. I find that really inspiring. It gives me the strength to see beyond my immediate obstacles and to just be persistent. I also respect that they paid for all of their projects through the sales of preparatory drawings and earlier works. They did not accept sponsorship of any kind.
I also get a whole whack of inspiration and motivation from Vik Muniz, specifically from his Portraits of Garbage series and the resulting documentary film “Wasteland”. Sure, he has a lot of resources and financial partners to back a big project. But i feel like what made that project successful was his belief in what he wanted to do. The heart of his idea was to reveal the humanity of the people of Jardim Gramacho (the world's largest dump, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro) and he didn’t listen to the negative thoughts or be deterred by the many obstacles he faced (see details on blog Recycle Nation).
If you build it, they will come.
So now I want to know what creative projects inspire you to play the long game? Let me know in the comments section.
Many of my sugar murals are featured in this beautiful book about the history of sugar (and sugars association to just about everything). Authors Vittorio and Roswitha Di Martino have sourced rare and intriguing imagery, offering an investigation of this material that is as broad as it is eclectic. Written in French and published by Orphie it's a great reason to practice your French reading😉 Here are some sneak peeks inside the book. It was difficult to choose only a few pages, since it comes in at 260 pages total! Chapter subjects include the slave trade, sugar in literature and music, sugar in art, sugar for alcohol, sugar in advertising all over the world. I'm giving away a FREE COPY of the book! To win, just like my Facebook fan page and like the posting about the book. Enter HERE.
(en français) Beaucoup de mes peintures murales de sucre sont présentés dans ce beau livre sur l'histoire du sucre. Les auteurs, Vittorio et Roswitha Di Martino, ont d'origine des images rare et intrigante, offrant une enquête de ce matériau qui est aussi large que il est éclectique. Écrit en français et publié par Orphie. Voici quelques pages de l'intérieur du livre. Il était difficile de choisir seulement quelques pages, car il arrive à 260 pages au total! Sujets incluent l'industrie de l'esclave, du sucre dans la littérature et la musique, l'art fait avec du sucre, le sucre pour l'alcool, le sucre dans la publicité partout dans le monde. Pour GAGNER un livre, "LIKE" ma page fan Facebook et "LIKE" le post sur le livre.
"Signature" (top) and "Wealth of Some and Ruin of Others" (bottom)
My murals "Cargo" (top) and "Stained" (bottom)
Films about sugar
Last Saturday was the People, Pattern, Place photo shoot in Melville, SK. I’ve been here for all of August preparing for this community photo project. The night before, I had people cancelling last minute, as well as people signing up last minute on the day of the shoot! So things evened out in the end. I had planned the design for 55 people, but ended up squeezing in 59 to allow everyone a spot.
All in all, I couldn’t have asked for more on an outdoor photo shoot:
- no rain
- warm, but not too hot temperatures
- minimal mosquitos (they had been TERRIBLE recently!)
- Enough people showed up
- I did not fall out of the bucket lift during the shoot.
I’m especially happy about that last one :-)
Here are some photos of the prep, placement and the final product. There were a lot of jokes and bantering flying around, so I think it’s safe to say that everyone had fun. Special thanks to:
- The Canada Council for the Arts for their support in developing this project.
- my family for acting as my assistants!
- The Melville Heritage Museum board members for their involvement and use of their lawn.
- HaasBro Photography for operating the drone camera.
- Jake’s Tree Cutting for the use and operation of the bucket truck.
- And of course, thanks to all the people who came out to be part of the photo!
More “People, Pattern, Place” projects are already in the works for next year, so stay tuned! Maybe you can be in the next one…
Updates will be posted on Twitter (@ShelleyMiller) and my Facebook fan page Shelley Miller Studio.
It's been 2 solid weeks of trying to recruit people for my photo shoot, People, Pattern, Place in Melville, Saskatchewan. It's my home town. I grew up here and half of my family still lives here. I thought it would be easy to get 80 people out for a community art project. But it's been tougher than I thought. It's the end of summer, so a lot of people are away for the weekend. There's the Fall Autumn Classic gold tournament, so half the town will be doing that instead! But little by little, with a lot of help from my family members, we've rounded up enough people for the project.
it's been a good lesson for me: I've realized that making an event on Facebook isn't nearly enough to host an event. You have to build it, but if you want them to come, you have to talk to people, face to face. My sister went door-to-door in her neighbourhood telling people about the project and my mom was down at the local Dairy Queen soliciting all her friends to come. This is, after all, a community-collaborative project so getting out into the community has proven to be the best way to get people involved.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow! Former high school teachers will there, friends from elementary school, old neighbours. Like the quilt pattern the project will form, it will have a lot of threads of my past woven in.
For the month of August I'm the resident artist at a Heritage Museum in my hometown of Melville, Saskatchewan. I'll be chipping away at some fabric compositions as well as planning a community collaborative project. I need about 80 people for the collaborative project. More details on that project to come.
My studio is in the basement of the Museum, but it's a great space with large bright windows. Here are some of the sights around the museum.
In honour of the grand opening of the new Glen Site MUHC I decided to run a twitter contest, giving away a print of the artwork design for Structura Habitata, my mural that resides at the entrance of the new Royal Victoria wing. I delivered the print yesterday to the winner: registered nurse, Michel Stachura, who works at the Montreal Children's Hospital. I'm always happy when my artwork has a good home!
The hand paintings on the wall behind us were done by doctors, nurses and staff at the Children's as they say goodbye to the building they've spent so much time in, and prepare to make a fresh start in the new Children's Hospital at the Glen Site.
I'll be running more contests in the future, so follow me on twitter (@ShelleyMiller) or on Facebook (Shelley Miller Studio) to get the details.