Fort Langley artist Suzanne Northcott has found herself in good place lately.
She’s engaged to be married, looking forward to the approaching spring and busily preparing to mount a solo show at Granville Fine Art.
Well, it’s more of a “show-lette” really, said Northcott of her exhibit, titled Found, which will feature 13 pieces and hang for just one week, beginning tomorrow (Saturday, March 24).
The Vancouver gallery’s tendency toward shorter shows which feature a few smaller, more affordable pieces are an acknowledgement of the tough economic times, Northcott said.
But there’s an upside to that, too, she added.
“The format means they’ve got a real line up of super painters.”
With her turn coming up in just a couple days, Northcott is busy in her small studio behind the Fort Gallery, putting the finishing touches on a small abstract painting.
At this point, she’s not sure whether it will make the cut, but a larger piece, leaning against a studio wall, has already set itself apart as her favourite of the show. Titled Moss Nest, it depicts a trio of pale turquoise eggs arranged in a nest as viewed from above.
After watching a video about Etsuko Ichikawa, a Seattle artist who ‘draws’ on paper with molten glass, Northcott took a fresh look at Moss Nest — which was pretty much finished — and began again, inspired by what she’d witnessed.
“My influences come from all over — the natural world, poetry — but not often directly from other artists,” she said.
In Ichikawa’s work, “the whole definition of drawing is being exploded to include all sorts of things. There’s deliberateness, but also graceful surrender.”
As they have for some time, birds’ nests continue to play a prominent role in Northcott’s art. But what, precisely, is driving that at the moment, she’s not entirely certain.
Could it be her upcoming marriage?
“I’m coming at it, not so much from the literal sense of making a nest for my beloved and looking for a place to land,” she said.
“At least, it doesn’t feel like that’s what it’s about.”
At the same time, Northcott is well aware that her art and her life are inextricably linked.
“There’s no such thing as ‘separate’ in my life. Everything cross-informs,” she said.
The rich turquoise shades that predominate this collection of paintings — in contrast to the neutral tones she usually favours — might be another nod to her state of emotional well being, she acknowledged.
“Things are lighter for me than they used to be. I’m in a good place in life; I’m excited for spring.”
But it’s the nests themselves that are critical the element in Northcott’s paintings, not the eggs they hold.
“I’m intrigued by the “hard and soft, the tangled and wild (versus) soft and held.
“The light against dark can be dark against light, with the same branch. It’s that impossible place where things that seem opposite can meet each other.”
Pure abstraction is where it’s at for the artist, but generally, she said, viewers want to see objects they recognize, and can therefore connect with, in a piece of art. Hence, the eggs.
While the show’s title, Found, works in a number of contexts, at its most basic, it could be considered a reference to Northcott’s habit of recovering used and discarded materials and turning them into works of both fine and functional art.
“I’ve been working with found materials on several levels,” said the artist, who most recently turned a number of second-hand leather coats into one-of-a-kind handbags and hacked-away wisteria vines into three-dimensional nests.
“I’m totally into using what I have.”
It’s not a new approach, said Northcott. After all, artists have been doing it for millennia.
“Cave paintings were done in charcoal, animal fat and blood, ground-up whatever was outside the door — reusing is not only timely, it’s timeless.”
Found runs at Granville Fine Art from March 24 to 30. Opening reception and artist demo are Saturday, March 24, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The gallery is located at 2447 Granville St. in Vancouver.