A joint exhibition at ‘England Hill’ in TBL
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.
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.