What began as a casual conversation outside the library has evolved to one of the most powerful gallery shows about women and how two artists interpreted that subject.
Anna Ashcroft said to Joan Ramsay Harker, “we should have a show together.”
And the rest of the story is hanging on the walls and sitting on plinths in the Quesnel Art Gallery.
“I was reluctant to have a solo show,” Ramsay Harker said.
“Now that we’ve done it together, I never want to do a solo show again,” added Ashcroft.
They agreed their work complements each other’s.
“There’s no competition. I’m a sculptor and Joan is a painter,” Ashcroft said.
Rock Paper Canvas – Women, the current show at the Quesnel Art Gallery at the Arts and Rec Centre, is so much more than just displaying their work, Ashcroft said.
“Getting to know each other, exploring our work, sharing the theme of women power, has been very rewarding.”
The two artists complement each other in many ways as well, with Ramsay Harker bringing excellent writing and organizational skills and Ashcroft providing a sense of whimsy and confidence. The show’s backstory is almost as interesting as the artwork itself, however what is displayed is powerful, expressive and infinitely poignant and stimulating.
Ramsay Harker presents a cohesive, progressive series of paintings depicting such subjects as selves, survivors and sugar and spice; all subjects beginning with S. Bold, large canvases encourage the viewer to take their time and really explore the message and the media.
Ashcroft delivers her art through sculpture, wood, stone and even papier mâché. Each piece draws from what the artist sees in the raw material, always women and each with its own message. Her largest and possibly most impressive piece she calls Neither Fish nor Fowl. The towering wooden female sets forth Ashcroft’s feelings about menopause.
Whether large or small, Ashcroft infuses every piece with a message about women, their role in the world or the artist’s feelings about women.
“I’m interested in womanliness, exploring it. I’m an anthropologist of my own life,” she said.
Four papier mâché sculptures, designated Cariboo Girls, allowed Ashcroft to explore a medium not commonly used by sculptors.
“Once I found a product to preserve these scupltures, I was pleased with the results. They can now be displayed as garden sculptures,” Ashcroft said.
Ashcroft confided she sees women everywhere, in rocks, wood, paper.
“As an artist my constant model appears on demand in my mirror.”
In the show, the artists have created a seating space where the viewer can stop for a while and contemplate the work on display.
Both artists have recently experienced the loss of important women in their lives and have dedicated the show to them. Ashcroft lost her mother and Ramsay Harker lost her aunt and a dear friend.
The show hangs for the month of September and the gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Rock, Paper, Canvas – Women is sponsored by West Fraser Mills