by Nelson MacDonald
“This spring the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design and Art Gallery of Nova Scotia teamed up to bring a refreshing exhibition to downtown Sydney.
“Here and Now,” exhibited at the Centre’s new third floor gallery space from March 21st to June 20th, not only showcased works from the AGNS permanent collection—which seldom finds its way across the causeway—but also introduced Cape Bretoners to four of the most exciting young artists in Atlantic Canada.
Emerging artists Lucie Chan, Mario Doucette, David R. Harper and Graeme Patterson—all of whom live and work in Atlantic Canada—presented an incredibly diverse body of work, with mediums ranging from stop-motion animation to embroidery on taxidermy.
Although each piece in “Here and Now” was thought-provoking and inventive, Graeme Patterson’s stop-motion animation Monkey and Deer stood out for many visitors. The twelve-minute film, which features exquisitely handcrafted sets and models, follows the two creatures as they explore the abandoned town of Woodrow, Saskatchewan. The strange duo’s tour includes stops at the local hockey arena, church, and grain elevator, each of which stands in near ruins and instills a sense of unease and emptiness in the viewer. The beautiful and haunting imagery of Monkey and Deer is a testament to the multi-talented Patterson, whose masterful use of camera angles, editing, and sound skillfully brings the models and sets to life.
While it is clear that Patterson and the other young artists exhibited in “Here and Now” are destined for great things, the chance to catch a glimpse of these future stars’ works was not the only reason this exhibition was significant. The potential influence it and future visiting AGNS shows might have on the Cape Breton visual arts scene could prove to be the most important outcome. Exhibits like “Here and Now” may lead to local artists experimenting with less traditional themes and new mediums–in short, a more diverse artistic community. But one exhibition will not be enough to encourage this development. So, here’s hoping that the AGNS will to continue to make these exhibitions accesible to Cape Bretoners by bringing more of them to our part of the province.
Graeme Patterson’s Monkey and Deer is available for download from his website at www.graemepatterson.com.