A couple of times in the past year, the Undercurrent received calls from an artist asking if we had any leftover papers. Jayme Chalmers had an unusual end planned for the pages. Our newsprint has been used for gardening, burning, paper mâché, but it’s likely never sculpted into a bust of Emily Carr. The sculpture is part of the Ephemeral Horizons exhibit at the Hearth, featuring Jayme Chalmers and Michael Trevillion. It runs May 13 through June 7.
The Undercurrent spoke with both artists in recent weeks.
“I think that’s poetic timing,” Michael Trevillion commented when the Undercurrent called last Friday. He’d just put down the brushes for his final painting in the Ephemeral Horizons show.
At 73, this is the oil artist’s first exhibition, though he’s been painting since he was 13.
Over 60 years, some years Trevillion hasn’t painted at all, other years he’s painted a lot, particularly proliferating in the past couple of years.
But Trevillion’s never been far from the art world, starting out at the Winnipeg Art Gallery painting walls and doing odd jobs, graduating to framing and matting after the former framer and matter died. He ventured out, trying to make it in the music world but ultimately returned to visual art. For the past 35 years, Trevillion has been a framer and matter and has lighted displays at Vancouver Art Gallery.
“In some ways, it’s been a good thing for my art in other ways not. But certainly it’s exposed me to a lot of different styles and works of art,” he said. “In one way, it lets me off the hook. I don’t have to evolve the art form because there’s so many people doing so [much amazing work].
There’s a gentle light throughout Trevillion’s nine imagined landscapes in the show. “I’m not very adventurous,” he said of the content. “But it’s more of getting a certain quality to the whole thing. A certain feel. A mood of everything.”
“I don’t really work from anything,” said Trevillion. “I’ve observed the effects of light and everything like that all around me.”
“Probably if I had a teacher, the teacher would have forced me to actually try some other things,” he said. But, left to his own devices, Trevillion opts to paint another imaginary landscape. “[Because] this time, maybe I can really reach that quality that I’m looking for.”
Since the Belterra resident started selling his artwork 20 years ago, this is the first time he’s had several of his paintings around his home. It was always a relief to deliver a painting, to consider it done. “So this has been a bit of a torture for the last two years having paintings around getting ready for an exhibition,” said Trevillion.
The University of Calgary-trained artist has long been invested in portrait. “Just the simplicity of it with the power and what it symbolizes,” said Chalmers.
Chalmers’s part of the exhibit consists of three dimensional portraits made out of paperback(esque) materials: encyclopedias, dictionaries, books, dried banana leaves, disposable masks, old newspapers and more.
“Some of them, I’m referencing photographs, or some of them I’m referencing old sculptures. Some of them I’m referencing old paintings,” he said. “It’s a sort of celebration of the mediums themselves.”
“The sculptures signify language and dialogue as well as the performative driven nature of our daily routines,” he said.
The multi-year research-studio project also involved creating his own paper using banana leaves. “That’s going back to ancient traditions of when banana leaves were used as writing surfaces.”
While this is Chalmers’s first show on Bowen Island since the project started a few years ago he’s had a few other exhibitions sprinkled across the region, the last one being at the Ferry Building Gallery in West Vancouver.
“Generally speaking, the portraits, I’m trying to tie into historical figures that take on larger symbolism and represent something bigger than themselves,” said Chalmers.
“For me with Emily Carr, it’s tied into the land representing the people.”
“The idea of me using 365 newspapers was also bringing the symbolic significance of the newspaper and the idea of the routine,” he said.
Chalmers and Trevillion have very different artwork but find a common thread in routine.
“In his case, it’s more with the literal, with the landscape and nature and the seasonal aspect. “But then, I think we’re also bringing light to the fact of just the daily routines in our personal, social and work routines.
Though Chalmers and Trevillion were supposed to have their exhibition last year, the show was put off due to COVID-19. Which also gave the chance for Chalmers to do a portrait made out of 365 disposable masks.
“In a weird way it might actually be a better show,” he said, of the delay.