By PAUL GESSELL
Enter the Gatineau gallery, Centre d’exposition Art-Image, and immediately you feel like you are inside some zen-like holy of holies. All is serene in this meditative environment. Loops of 95 suspended handmade ceramic scrolls, resembling a bamboo swinging bridge, lead your eyes from the floor, across the room, and upwards toward the far side of the gallery, where a raised sun-like circle adorned with hundreds of tiny bent ceramic strips is the prize for those seeking enlightenment. All the objects gleam in a monochromatic, slightly off-white colour. They simultaneously look fragile and enduring. The fire-hardened scrolls are covered in hairline fissures that look like some ancient hieroglyphs. On a nearby wall, more scrolls, representing trees, stand upright on a shelf. On the other side of the room is an exquisite bowl, seamed with hairline cracks, and serving as a symbol of the repository of human knowledge.
This unusual ceramic installation is called Connection and it is the creation of Paula Murray, one of the region’s leading ceramic artists. Murray is known for expanding the repertoire of ceramic art and, with Connection, has taken several giant steps forward. It is her first major installation and she hopes it won’t be the last.
In Connection, Murray sees the bridge as “an invitation to cross over from the individual to the universal, the opportunity to connect with the unknown, or a new way of thinking,” says gallery director Marie-Helene Giguere.
There is an intense spiritual quality to Connection. Murray, a Baha’i, says spirituality infuses much of her work. “I am interested in all the diverse ways of knowing and how cultures acquire the knowledge that serves to advance their unfolding civilizations,” Murray says in an artist statement. “Four thousand years ago, the Mesopotamians recorded their truths on clay tables that, once fired, could not be altered. Spiritual texts such as those recorded on the Dead Sea Scrolls have shaped society throughout time.”
“As an artist, I see that immersing ourselves in nature inspires us to follow our intuition, our gut feelings. This installation offers a poetic metaphor for the continued search for meaning, for deeper understanding of each other and ourselves, how all existence is ultimately connected, creating a bridge from the individual to the universal. Every porcelain scroll I make writes its own story, with its own language mysteriously appearing, inviting us to grasp its meaning.”
Connection continues at Centre d’exposition Art-Image, 855 Boulevard de la Gappe, Gatineau, until July 19. Visit here for more info.