All too often, artwork is treated as an afterthought, chosen because it fits the available wall space or blends with the existing decor in a room. Here, we turn that idea on its head, choosing works of art that we dream of having on our walls — five pieces by five remarkable local artists. Let the wall art be the focal point, its mood and meaning guiding an array of furniture and decor that complement the stars of the room.
Back in the 1980s, Tim desClouds was primarily a painter. Then he started constructing elaborate frames for his work. Very elaborate frames. The frames began to overshadow the art. The frames, you might say, ate the art and became the art. Thus began one of the most unusual art careers in Ottawa. DesClouds is now known mainly for his fantasy sculptures. Some are small enough to fit in your hand; others are large outdoor public art commissions in Ottawa and beyond.
The art teacher, who shaped generations of young artists at Canterbury High School, takes toys, clockworks, tiny figures — whatever catches his imagination — and then, by attaching them all to each other, he constructs elaborate sculptures with moving parts and lights, as well as a whole lot of whimsy and complicated subplots. His art could be perceived as toys for adults. But they are not just eye candy. Many of them are built around dark themes, just like nursery rhymes, with hidden adult-themed back-stories: poor old starving Mother Hubbard; Peter Pumpkin Eater, who imprisoned his wife; and Mary Quite Contrary, a possible reference to England’s Queen Mary I — “Bloody Mary” — who slaughtered Protestants.
desClouds’ work has become darker over the years. Bright colours have been replaced by black. Skulls and other death imagery are common, reflecting the artist’s views on society and politics. He compares his sculptures to U.S. president Donald Trump: the outside is entertaining but inside dark forces abound.
Favourite colours: Red, for the painted fire found on many of his sculptures, and black, signifying the darker themes and palette of his newer work
Dream setting for his art: Anyplace — whether a private home, gallery, or public space — in which his art is seen beside the work of his peers
Find his work: St-Laurent + Hill Gallery, 293 Dalhousie St.
The iconic Togo sofa is whimsical, timeless, and made by dedicated craftspeople — a fitting tribute to the sculptural art on the wall above it. From $7,347. Alteriors, 1158 Bank St.
The curvy quality of this Kartell Bookworm bookshelf makes it a perfect match for desClouds’ sculpture. Bonus: It’s available in the artist’s two favourite colours. $1,604. A Modern Space, 1150 Bank St.
Gravity bowls by ceramic artist Jennifer Graham are functional artwork with a sculptural quality. $30–$125 (depending on size). Wall Space Gallery, 358 Richmond Rd.
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