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The Craft Council of B.C’s annual show of emerging artists is an opportunity for the public to see traditional craft media transformed by a new generation.

Emily May’s ceramic shards speak of the metaphoric and real heartache of breakage. The sinking feeling of unpacking a box after moving to find one’s favourite cup broken extends to the break up of a relationship. May has bravely assembled her personal damage (we can see her signature on some pieces) and embedded it into plaster. This is all held in a plain black frame, like a diploma for enduring something. In another variation, the fragments are placed on dried beans and the viewers are invited to make their own version by rearranging the pieces. A video shows her smashing her rejects, but there’s a cheerful element to this: rescue what you can, organize it into something useful or aesthetic, carry on. She has presented some shards as jewellery, tenuously held by fine silver filaments the way we cherish our memories –even those with sharp corners.

A dark grey metal collar sporting chains and shiny thumbtacks makes it clear Jade Beck’s vocabulary is one of metal.  Sharp corners and tacks would give the wearer a distinct, even prickly, presence. Each surface, whether gleaming or covered in dappled, sooty markings, has been given careful attention. Her spiral bracelet trails drips of metal that suggest the form has begun the process of melting.  A teredo-hole spotted piece of wood, that looks as if it had been taken from a 16th century sailing vessel, shares a small stand with a drip of bright silver.  It is a prop from her workbench, but including it in the display makes a statement abut Beck’s penchant for surfaces.

Janet Harrison’s repoussé work uses an old technique to make relief drawings. The metal is worked from the back, but Harrison uses both sides of the malleable material. Figurative elements, hand, torso, legs are gently depicted in copper’s warm tones. Surface textures in black and maroon bloom like tiny bits of lichen at the edges. On the backs, she has filled the forms with enamel, an unexpected bloom of colour.

Arachnophobics beware: Christine Shimek’s spread-arms width spider is poised within a sturdy wooden frame. The surfaces are ambiguous yet definitely organic. She has used ceramics to mimic metal, leather, and spotted hide. An uneven web suspends the spider. Has some outside force caused the web to become damaged? A creature that can turn many of us into gibbering fools suddenly seems fragile.  A spider does important work. The frame suggests a kind of container Shimek wants us to consider.

Trying to approach the same topic from many angles is an artistic challenge, one that Laura Meyers has patiently performed in her series. The pronounced curvature of a spine –we find out that it is her son’s– runs through each piece.  Structures of weaving or basketry make way for a snaking channel. One contains a red/black twined line like a single blood vessel, another holds a cord comprised of many nerve strands of silk, yet another has a woven, gathered strip winding its way across. The central path distorts the rest of the weaving, the way the illness of a family member affects all concerned. But strength and connectedness are inherent in weaving, attributes Meyers uses with deep resonance.

Submitted by Bettina Matzkuhn

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