A joint ex­hi­bi­tion at ‘Eng­land Hill’ in TBL

Sherbrooke Record - - BROME COUNTY NEWS - By Ann David­son

While the an­nual TBL Duck Fes­ti­val plans are be­ing fine tuned, Jack Walker, owner of the his­toric build­ing at 104 Lake­side built by pi­o­neer Luke Knowl­ton, is open­ing his store­front for a joint ex­hi­bi­tion by lo­cal artists John David­son and Brian Shemilt. “Fire, Smoke and a Lit­tle Bit More” will be in­stalled this com­ing week to run Septem­ber 16 and 17 as well as dur­ing Duck Fest week­end on Septem­ber 22, 23, and 24.

Walker is en­thu­si­as­tic about David­son’s “full-tilt” ap­proach to the work he is do­ing while Shemilt is de­lighted to sup­port the ce­ram­ics artist by adding his own work in an ex­hi­bi­tion sure to draw the eyes of any­one en­ter­ing the store­front that has been trans­formed to a gallery. “I am just tag­ging along,” Shemilt humbly said. “John is an amaz­ing ce­ram­ics artist and he has a very in­ter­est­ing process. He cre­ates his items by fir­ing them at ex­tremely high heat in the ground over many days. In some in­stances it takes a month to cre­ate a piece and he has no idea what it will look like un­til he brings it out of the ground.”

For over 20 years, Shemilt has been do­ing pho­tog­ra­phy. He is known in the area for the work he does in restor­ing old pho­tos and was in­stru­men­tal in kick­start­ing the dig­i­tal process of ar­chiv­ing many of the stored im­ages at the Brome A look into John David­son’s stu­dio re­veals unique art forms with glazes that are one of a kind be­cause of the meth­ods he uses to fire them. County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety mu­seum’s ar­chives. Any­one en­ter­ing the new Le Petit Musée, a log house ded­i­cated to the late Alan Web­ster, at Brome Fair would have seen Shemilt’s re­stored im­ages of farm­ing in yes­ter­year. For the up­com­ing show, he will have 34 pieces with a wide va­ri­ety of sub­jects. “Some of the im­ages are pho­tos and there are a few that have been con­verted to photo-art,” ex­plained Shemilt.

David­son says that he en­joys the tech­ni­cal chal­lenges en­coun­tered when pro­duc­ing the forms that he con­cerns him­self with along with the treat­ment of their sur­faces. He aims to achieve a bal­ance be­tween the form, its sur­face, and colour so that they com­pli­ment each other equally. “I work with the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween ves­sel and sphere, sur­face treat­ment, and colour. It is a long learn­ing process but an en­joy­able one.”

Ac­cord­ing to David­son, all his forms are fired first in an electric kiln. “For pit or bar­rel fir­ing, they are cov­ered in saw­dust and a fire is started. As the saw­dust is slowly burned the smoke and fire cre­ate the fin­ish.” David­son also em­ploys Raku, a method where the pieces are fired for about an hour in a gas kiln lo­cated out­side. “The heat is then turned off and the pieces are re­moved while the glazes are still molten. They are quickly placed in a re­duc­tion cham­ber, a bar­rel with saw­dust, which causes the ran­dom ef­fects to the glazes.

PHO­TOS BY ANN DAVID­SON

Built in 1856 by Luke Knowl­ton, “Eng­land Hill,” as it is com­monly re­ferred to, has been fresh­ened up by new owner Jack Walker with­out los­ing the charm of the orig­i­nal pressed tin ceil­ings. He is hoping that the store­front will be used for catered re­cep­tions and ex­hi­bi­tions and pop-up stores un­less he gets an of­fer from a re­tailer want­ing a long-term lease.

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