Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Jessica Waterman Rocks the Annex Gallery

Jessica working in her studio

This past weekend, February 4th, Jessica Waterman opened her show, Light & Shadow, Wood & Cloth, at the Craft Council's Annex Gallery.  It was great to feel the energy in the room as a vibrant bunch of younger creative souls came together to celebrate Jessica's vernissage.  Waterman is 29 and her social circle is decidedly younger than the Craft Council usually draws.  Their interest and Jessica's talent proves that craft has a future in the province and that it will look different - refreshingly different- than the past.

Unlike earlier generations who tended to be wed to one medium, Jessica Waterman works in both textiles and wood; she is post-disciplinary.  The old tribal affiliations– to clay or wood or metal, etc– are fading away.  Waterman has a very solid skill set and training: costume design from Dalhousie, textiles from NSCAD, and 7-years experience as a professional carpenter.  Her day job is impressive too: wrangling props and costume for the TV series, The Republic of Doyle.  She has worked in set design, short film and advertising and let's not forget opera.  All of this points to a determined work ethic and lots of practical experience.  In short, a woman with options.

Waterman's sensibility is more of a designer than a craftsperson per se.  It is not surprising, that she is working on textiles and woodwork for a boutique hotel on Fogo Island.  Jessica focuses on a look and a function and then decides how to get there.  She is not a slave to materials or technique.  But she does like to experiment.
 Bench by Jessica, without resin, in her studio.  Both photos by Mark Bennett

The show stealer for me, "the object of desire", was a bench that Waterman had made from molding or trim scavenged during her work as a carpenter.  From my notebook, "She arranges the rhythmic rows of wood, accentuating the cuts into a rich interplay of light and shadow.  An interest in manipulating light and shadow characterizes her texture-rich work in both the textiles and woodwork."  There are actually two benches in the show; one is encased in clear resin and the other is left plain.  Clearly the resin buffered one is more comfortable to sit on while the resin-less one speaks more evidently of its household wood origins.  But the resin-encased bench is magical, especially in front of the Annex Gallery window, as it overlooks the St. John's Harbour and Narrows.  It had all the poetry of a winter landscape, hushed quiet in icy mystery.

Here's the link to her show:

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