A Conversation with Catharine Somerville
With her forthcoming exhibition “A Winter Place” only a month away. Canadian art curator Jessica Wilson caught up with Catharine Somerville in Toronto to discuss her recent travels, her time in Canada, and of course her upcoming solo show.
JWLet’s start with the title of your show – why A Winter Place?
CSA Winter Place refers to my time on Toronto Island. The metaphor of winter is so powerful; a time of passing and rest, in preparation for new life. I was told by an artist in Sioux lookout, Ontario, that winter is a place for the stories, and a time when the spirits sleep. The title of my exhibit pays homage to that notion; that rest is a necessity that enables still and quietness, and a time to reflect and take note of your surroundings.
JWYou have found yourself in some rather remote places this year, can you tell us a little about how your travels have inspired these works?
CSThis past winter I completed a three-month residency on Toronto Island. In the body of work I created, I explored the city from its edge, tackling concepts of remoteness and impermanence through my unique vantage point. I used my view from the island looking outward onto the lake to explore ideas around impermanence. I painted the effects of the city on the surrounding environment, namely the colour of the sky, and the constantly changing ice on the lake.
JWWhat can people expect from this exhibit?
CSIn this body of work, I attempt to capture the effect of winter through the use of oil, resin and cracking. The body of work employs a sophisticated colour palette that is synonymous with my work. I take inspiration from the artist William Turner, an English Romantic landscape painter.
JWWhat aspect of the show are you most looking forward to?
CSI am excited to present this body of work to a Toronto audience, in that it was created in this city, and in a way, by this city. It speaks directly to our collective effect on the landscape. The light, the heat, the noise, and the pollution all affect the way that winter looks from Toronto Island.
JWWhat captivates you about winter? What about the season did you want to share with viewers of this show?
CSAs winter approaches again, I am sharing the body of work with a Toronto audience. Many people visit Toronto Islands in the summer, but winter is a time when the islands are quiet and still. These paintings will give viewers a sense, both visually and emotionally, of what the islands are like in the winter.
JWWhich works are you particularly excited about seeing on show? Do you have a show favourite?
CSThe group of paintings complements each other very well, and so I am excited to see them all hanging together in the beautiful space of Gallery 1313. My personal favourite is Blue Ice Maid; through colour and movement it creates an emotionally bonds between winter and myself.
JWHow has your year been in Canada with the Art Scene?
CSI recently moved to Canada from England, where I have had an established painting and teaching career for twenty years. I found new inspiration in Canada, and this year began with the residency at Artscape Gibraltar Point. I’ve exhibited and taught classes at a number of venues this year, both in the Ottawa Valley and Toronto. Establishing a connection with a Canadian audience has brought a new focus to my paintings, and has motivated me to continue exploring nature, and man’s relationship to it.