Review of Nexus a mixed-media installation at Xchanges Gallery by Victoria Edgarr. Exhibition happened in Victoria BC, June 3-19 2016.
Born in Montreal in 1954, Edgarr’s adult life embraces all aspects of the visual arts: studying, teaching, organizing and creating. A prolific printmaker, she incorporates a variety of media and methods into her multi-layered narratives. Paper arts, language, photography and installation enliven her evocative, conceptual artworks. In Montreal, while earning her BFA at Concordia University, Edgarrstudied with renowned printmaker Irene Whittome. She learned about the traditional practice of organizing prints into bound or boxed albums. Edgarr discovered that hand-held treasures gave a tactile intimacy to images and ideas. Her book binding skills and beautifully crafted paper creations are evident in Nexus.
Victoria Edgarr with "Studio Portrait: as the ant crawls", (black & white) white oil stick, graphite, monoprint
on BFK Rives paper, 3 panels each 15x40 in
After graduating , Edgarr worked for several years at Montreal’s Guilde Graphique, as a technical coordinator. The well-funded Guilde operated as a gallery and studio space for print-makers. At this time (1984) Edgarr and her partner Alain Costaz began making picturesque images of old Montreal for the tourist trade, under the pseudonym Chloé. Their successful venue-generating partnership continues today. After moving to Victoria in 1993, the couple became involved with Ground Zero Print Making Society. Their Ground Zero studio space in historic Chinatown hosts many workshops, guest artists, exhibitions and gatherings. “Printmaking requires space, special tools and costly equipment,” says Edgarr, “as well as people to pass on skills and knowledge.” For many years, Edgarr worked as a guest artist in local schools. Since 2014, she’s taught printmaking at Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts.
Nexus is derived from the Latin word to bind or fasten. Meanings include a link, a group, the centre and an intercellular connector. The images in Nexus are people, places and things that have presence in my life,” says Edgarr. “They come from observation, photos and memory.” When Edgarr binds visual images with physical objects, they are designed to be both touched and touching. In Nexus, the artist orders and balances events in her personal history by arranging concepts and images into a cohesive whole. This reordering takes place in a cosmic arena of swirling forces: allegorical/personal, macro/micro, chaos/order. Throughout the process, the human figure plays a starring role as key witness.
"Studio Portrait: Panorama", coloured oil sticks & graphite on BFK Rives paper,
30 x 40 in, 3 panels (Details below)
In 2013, Edgarr attended a residency at Banff Centre for the Arts. To prepare for this she practiced her drawing skills by doing panoramic sketches of the interior of Ground Zero studio. “I worked quickly and included everything in my visual path,” she says. Collaged elements in the black and white panels (top right) are monoprints adding colour and texture. A second Studio Portrait series (above & left) uses coloured oil sticks as a medium. A video clip of the same 360 degree studio vista appears at the bottom of the webpage.
Action figures and personal objects taken to Banff residency
"Situations", one of a series of drawings completed at Banff residency
Below: Life till Now: A performance in 14 scenes, 7 ft shelf, box 9x6x2 in,artist’s book, text & pictures, industrial construction paper, oil pastel,graphite, acetate, mill board, hair.A multi-dimensional approach to: creation/evolution, nature/nurture, universal/personal. Memories are held in things.
The artist matched dates from the evolution of planet earth to key moments in her own personal development. For example: Scene 1 shows the artist as a young child in a sandbox playing with toys (including an empty package of Export A cigarettes). This matches with Natural Selection scene of 4600 million years ago: the formation of the homogeneous solid earth by planetesimal accretion. “I worked hard doing all the research, she says. Learning how to pronounce the scientific language for the video performance was another learning curve.”
Below: Snapshots. Bottomless coffre (chest) of monoprints, sketches in watersoluble ink, box 8 ½ x 6 ½ x 3 in. Guests at the exhibition enjoyed the variety and abundance of monoprints for sale. Edgarr does many prints, often several in a series, then takes a break. “It’s pleases me to share my images with many people,” she says, “as long as my creative wellspring keeps bubbling along.”
Below: Princess Books: Life as a Fairy Tale, mixed media work on paper installation, 40x40 in, 12 books, brass chain & findings, text. Edgarr has a predisposition for shiny things, baubles and treasures of various descriptions. The antique key, the golden chains artfully arranged, the promise of mysterious stories sequestered in booklets about to scamper off the page. Magic is afoot, magic lives.
Below: Pennants, mixed media work on paper installation, oil pastel, graphite, etchings, monoprints, buckram fabric, wood dowel10 pennants 6 ½ x 15 in Pennants are celebratory flags waved at public events and tournaments. They also fly from the mastheads of vessels at sea. For Nexus, the meaning of the pennants is unclear, as they are supported by a wall, not people or ships. As a viewer moves past the brightly coloured flags they appear to disappear from a frontal position. Mixed messages continue as the word pennants sounds much like penance, a religious act involving confession and repentance.