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thru December 23, 2023

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The Alchemists

The word alchemy has roots in the Arabian phrase al-kimia (preparation of the stone) used by ancient Egyptians, referring to the fertile black soil of the Nile Delta. The Greek word chemeia (metal pouring) refers to the alloying of metals. Historically, alchemy refers to the attempt to transform matter and is often considered the origins of modern chemistry.  In the medieval period, alchemists attempted to turn base metals into gold and find an elixir for eternal youth or healing. Their efforts later became associated with magic, mystery and the occult. More recently the definition refers to the process of transformation and creation; often in artistic, philosophical, spiritual, or psychological terms.

Spiritualists interpret this transformation, not as material, but in relation to spiritual enlightenment; the search for contentment, harmony, and self-awareness through liberation from inauthentic parts of self-identity including beliefs, opinions, wounds, fears, and phobias. Alchemy has become a metaphor for self-actualization, spiritual or psychological rebirth.

Artists recognize the symbolic potency of alchemical processes, both in their artistic process and as subject matter, finding richness of meaning in the connections between the worlds of the spiritual and material, sensual and scientific, conscious and unconscious. Alchemy is laden with metaphor, symbolism, and themes to be interpreted by artists. 

“At its essence, art is an alchemical process. Alchemy is a process of transformation."                                                               Julia Cameron

The Artists:

Deb Chaney

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Deb Chaney is a mixed media abstract painter and teacher. Her mixed media paintings are composed of many intriguing layers and textures and inspired by her healing journey back to her authentic self.  

Chaney started her artistic journey by sketching and writing journals and then taking several workshops with artists she admired and began her own regular practice of creating.  In 2021, Deb completed a large scale public art tile installation in North Vancouver inspired by the healing nature of being in creative process.  Her work appears in corporate and private collections, and exhibits nationally and internationally in galleries, magazines, and in TV and Film.

 

Chaney has been named twice in the Vancouver media as one of the top 10 artists to watch and been featured in many publications, including The Georgia Strait, The Vancouver Sun, and Style At Home Magazine. She believes we are all innately artists and that being in creative process is a healing act. 

Lisa Kirk

Lisa Kirk calls herself the “Untamed Artist” because she loves to explore many creative territories. Being open, experimental, and playful is key to her creative process. She an intuitive artist, mostly self-taught, who works in a myriad of media. 

 

For her, creating Art is a transformational process where she is continually asked to show up, face herself and trust what will come through. When she is in the flow, often what shows up is a surprise, and sometimes she does not fully understand the meaning of what she has painted or drawn. However, Kirk believes that our bodies are very wise and often “see” things before our conscious mind can process it. It was the creative process that supported and guided her through a place with no words, allowing her to express her pain and chaos in a safe way. Here, she began to experience the alchemy and healing of the creative process. Before Kirk had any idea that she had breast cancer, she painted what was going to happen to her body—lose her breasts and hair (“The Body’s Prophecy”). 

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When she painted it, she felt disturbed and confused, and couldn’t make sense of the painting and set it aside.  It wasn’t until she went through these things and looked at the piece, that she was able to see how prophetic it was. Kirk believes we are all unique in how we process our traumas and each individual has their own timeline that needs to be respected. Although there are set stages in the alchemic process of change, there is no staid map. 

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer (Jan 2022), she found herself faced with so much uncertainty -- a bilateral mastectomy, chemo, radiation, and ongoing adjunctive therapy.  It was unknown terrain. Kirk found herself turning to small creative works, where she had more control and felt safe.  It has been difficult for her to face herself at a large canvas, but she is slowly working her way there. And she is beginning to paint and explore her scars - inner and outer. 

Often creative work carries deep layered meaning and she believes, medicine to heal. It can carry unconscious and embedded messages for both the creator and the viewer if one is open to it. Herein lies the transformative process of creating and also being in the presence of art. 

Ramon Kubicek

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Change or Die.
Life weathers us
But that is not transmutation.
First, Intention.
Then Craft.
Then Attention, like an unwavering caress.
Till the glimmer becomes a flame.
Then all of it again.
Every piece of matter a sacrifice,
Until the consuming fire is born and the light remains.
Only judgments rejected.


These paintings were created at different times over the last ten years. Some were shown in a solo show at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery in 2015. Some as recently as the last 12 months, but all created in the hope of sharing gold with the viewer. Kubicek's professional life has been focused on creativity and teaching. After studying literature, visual art, and film in Montreal, he traveled through Europe and North Africa, and

decided to study art in England. A few years later he moved to Vancouver and went into full-time teaching at Langara College and Emily Carr University. 

From a very early age, Kubicek loved the work of Brueghel, Durer, and Bosch, and the illustrations of Gustave Dore. His second set of influences came from Sufi arabesques, Taoist landscapes, Byzantine mosaics, as well as the paintings of Jack Wise and Mark Tobey, who were masterful abstract artists painting in a calligraphic style. Contemporary artists he admires include Anselm Kiefer and Bharti Kher. 

Ivy Miller

As a passionate artist, Ivy Miller has spent countless hours refining her craft and developing her unique style. Her dedication to her art is evident in every piece she creates. With a keen eye for detail and a deep appreciation for beauty, her art is a reflection of her soul.

Miller is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work captures the essence of the natural world through various lenses. She works primarily on organic surfaces—paper and clay—because they echo the vitality of the local landscape that she is passionate about investigating. Miller uses mediums such as ink, collage, watercolour, ceramics, paper clay, and found objects to express resilience, rebirth, recovery, spirituality, and identity. Her work is deeply rooted in the natural world, exploring themes of flora and fauna, mythology, and the depth of emotions that make up our human experience. Miller focuses on capturing the complexities of the natural and spiritual world through her art. Her pieces are inspired by the intricate patterns in nature and the profound emotions evoked by spiritual experiences.

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With a unique style, Miller's art transports viewers to another world. Through her work, she provides a unique perspective and insights into events throughout her rich personal history and encourages the viewers to contemplate the mysteries of life.

Wilma Millette

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Wilma Millette, it seems, integrates alchemical thought into her creative practice: transformation, creation, re-invention, and metamorphosis. It is the idea of alchemy as well as alchemy itself that interests her. It is the effort to discover the mysteries of how the world is organized both in nature and human industry that intrigues and inspires her.

 

Some themes she returns to again and again include scientific process, anatomy, colour theory, insects, birds, ocean waves, sea life, human anatomy, and typography. Accepting and even embracing the imperfections of her raw materials; the old documents, found objects from the past, from the natural world; Millette combines them in unexpected ways, striving to give them new life and a new story, something more than the sum of the individual elements. She invites you to explore the mystery of her pieces and invent your own narrative, find your own patterns, making sense, or nonsense, of it all.  

Millette is an internationally known collage and assemblage artist based in the Cowichan Valley.  She welcomes visitors to her quirky Maple Bay Studio that is rather like a cabinet of curiosities, filled with skulls, feathers, seed pods, nests and fascinating found objects and old papers from the past.

Clive Powsey

Clive Powsey was trained in Fine Arts (drawing and printmaking) at Ontario College of Art 1976-80, with a final year of off-campus study in Florence, Italy. Occupationally, he exhibited fine art paintings in commercial and public galleries and was a background painter/art director for animated film, television and commercials.

 

Powsey thinks the notion of alchemy is a wonderfully conceived exhibition theme and seems to embrace qualities that are distinctly visual, lyrical, surrealistic, ineffable, folkloric, irrational, and occult. He thinks alchemy is a fitting analogy for the labour of visual artists and the psychotropic properties of art images as he has came to understand them in the mid to late 20th century. 

 

Powsey's drawings are inscribed into a plexiglass plate, inked and wiped, then hand pulled through an intaglio press which allows for a limited number of impressions on paper prior to the degradation of the plate under pressure of the press. He has limited his printed editions to 20 images, each of which is similar to but not exactly the same as the others. 

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Powsey is not attempting to make the prints identical, as with mass produced machine-printing. Each impression has its own specific attributes. Subsequently the printed drawings, or drypoint prints, are hand tinted with tea or watercolour or both, which adds to the uniqueness. This actual printing process is not to be confused with the virtual, digital push-button machine reproduction of images.

 

Powsey's primary visual interest has always been drawing as an art-form and the describing of form through drawing. Printmaking by drypoint drawing employs the eye, the mind, and most particularly, the hand. The enscribing of a printing plate allows for a primacy of the method and aesthetic of drawing.

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