Thorpe Majestic 013
3rd May 2013

“Peaks and Petals” Art Exhibit at Essentia, May 9 through June 6

Do you love mountain peaks and beautiful flowers? From May 9 to June 6, 2013, you are invited to view the mountain ranges and vibrant flowers of watercolour and acrylics artist, Virginia Layton. You will also have the opportunity to appreciate the smooth surfaces and peaked outlines of ceramic art by Susan Thorpe. Meet these two exceptional artists on the Opening Night of their exhibit, “Peaks and Petals”, at Essentia, 1113 Kensington Road NW, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m., May 9 (Light refreshments will be served).

About Susan Thorpe

A ceramics artist for over 25 years, Susan Thorpe of Calgary works with a wide range of ceramic materials and techniques. This artist has shared her knowledge as an instructor at Mount Royal College, as Clinician for the Calgary Board of Education, and as Ceramic Technician for the City of Calgary. We learn that:

Thorpe graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the University of Western Ontario, London, with additional studies at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Australian National University, distance learning, Red Deer College, and Alberta College of Art and Design. Thorpe’s work can be found in the collections of the Seagram Museum, Waterloo, and the Gardiner Museum, Toronto. (Biographical information courtesy of Susan Thorpe).
Boxed In         Thorpe Majestic 013
Susan Thorpe explains the appeal of clay, her technique, and eco-political approach, stating that:

Clay is a powerful material. It can imitate the texture of almost any other substance.

I work from a solid block of pure white porcelain using a variety of looped cutting wires to remove facet after facet of material. Constant vigilance is required to recognize when each facet has left the best possible craggy texture. Only then are the jagged mountain peaks, the rugged planes and undulating ridges revealed. Inner cavities are hollowed out.

It is ironic that I am using local Albertan clay, eroded from the nearby Rocky Mountains, to explore the physical nature of those same mountains.

Each mountain, while visually delicate and sensually appealing, is a functional box representing an ecological problem facing Alberta. Issues such as air, water, and soil pollution caused by oil production, light pollution from large cities, and wildlife endangerment, are represented by non-ceramic materials such as gold leaf, acrylic resin and bone. The mountain snowcaps function as lids and metaphorically function to contain the disaster.



About Virginia Layton

Virginia Layton has maintained a lifelong interest in the arts, and is now responding to requests from her many grandchildren to help them develop their own creative pursuits. A long-time resident of Glenwood in the southwest corner of Alberta, Virginia draws upon the grandeur of local mountains such as The Chief as inspiration for her paintings. She also captures the vivid colours of her garden flowers above the Belly River. Virginia Layton reveals her immense pleasure in the natural world around her, as she lets us in on the role of art throughout her life, stating that:

I was born and raised in Cardston, AB. I liked school and loved nature and walking to school. When weather permitted I chose a path through the trees, across Lee’s Creek on a footbridge and up the hill to the school. I still remember the birds singing in the spring and in the late fall breaking off the icicles that hung under the ice to suck on as I walked home.

Art classes were taught in elementary and high school, and I was artist for the Cardston High School newspaper. I sometimes drew pictures of movie stars for my friends. My mother made quilts, and I enjoyed arranging the colors for the blocks.

After marriage I was busy raising six children. My hobbies were riding horses, sewing, cooking, and painting. Whenever I could, I took art classes from various artists, sewed dresses for my two daughters and t-shirts for my four sons, which helped fill my need to be creative. When weaving was popular, I learned to use the wool from our sheep for spinning, dyeing, and weaving. After my children were raised, I got the empty nest syndrome, so I took courses from the Lethbridge Community College and earned a certificate in Design. I then went to the University of Lethbridge for a degree in Fine Arts and graduated with distinction.  

 One of the enjoyable opportunities I have had was teaching a class for several summers called “Nature Water Colors” at an Elder Hostel Program at the Great Canadian Barn Dance. Here I was able to meet and teach people from all over the United States.

I have been blessed with thirty-two grandchildren, who all get a homemade quilt from me when they graduate from high school. On the occasion of their marriage, I make them a wedding quilt, and am now sewing baby quilts for my great grandchildren as well as painting. I am blessed with a wonderful family and great friends, for which I am very thankful.



Your Invitation

You are invited to meet these two personable, talented artists the evening of May 9, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Essentia. This is a free event, and light refreshments will be served throughout the evening. Please note: If you are unable to attend this Opening Night event, we hope you will bring friends and family to Essentia on another day in May or early June. Essentia is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. The “Peaks and Petals” Exhibit will run until June 6, 2013.

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