Sackville artists open studios to the public

Tour offers glimpse into artistic process.

Sackville is a town with a diverse artistic scene, a rare blessing in such a small community. However, our four galleries and frequent visits from artists all over the country sometimes overshadow the local artists and artisans who live and work in Sackville year round.

To remedy this oversight, the town of Sackville presents “Art Across the Marsh,” an annual studio tour that allows curious students and locals to explore the great art being created in our own backyards. This year, the event encompassed nineteen studios and over twenty artists working in mediums ranging from printmaking to pottery.

Indu Varma is one such artist, a Sackville local and retired school teacher who creates sculpture, paintings, and block prints from her Salt Marsh Studio on Wellington Street. Varma’s work encompasses a wide range of different mediums and styles to explore familial relationships and the unique worldview of children.

Varma is particularly proud of her recent series of prints entitled “Lessons Learned from Six Year Olds.” She conceived of the series two years ago after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Varma was overcome by the idea that such tragedies could be avoided with better mental health awareness and services. To this end, all the proceeds from the sale of the prints will go towards the Atlantic Wellness Centre.

Each print in the series was inspired by conversations with Varma’s grandchildren or with the children of friends, and mix realistic depictions of children at play with abstract patterns and shapes.

Margret Anne Capper is another local artist whose broad spectrum of work incorporates a variety of different styles and themes. An accomplished potter, she has been working exclusively with clay since graduating from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Her early work features flowing, abstract patterns that range from the figurative to the Pollock-esque. These striking images were created by applying ink directly to liquid clay before it had been fired in a kiln, and mirror the gravity-defying undulations in the physical structure of her pieces.

Her recent pieces are created by pressing textural patterns onto the clay. The resulting images range from geometric forms reminiscent of Mayan temples to representational depictions of plants and other natural themes.

Angela Thibodeau was one of the younger artists on the tour, a proud Mount Allison alumna who works from her home and studio on Bridge Street. Thibodeau initially worked with oils, but is currently exploring the possibilities of combining black ink with watercolour. This unique mix of media allows her to contrast her bold yet delicately layered depictions of cloudy sky, barren marsh, and craggy wilderness with detailed, hyper-realist drawings of man-made structures, such as Sackville’s historic American Gothic homes or looming electrical towers. The resulting paintings illustrate the curious relationship between the concrete and synthetic realms of human society and the ethereal power of a traditional landscape.

The event took place on Oct. 18 and 19, and showcased galleries from Sackville to Dorchester, N.B. to Jolicure, N.B. Most of the artists have private local galleries where their work can be viewed and purchased throughout the year.

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