Bridget and I are working on gallery proposals for a show. It’s interesting communicating through blog posts and cell phone conversations. I guess that’s what normal people do everyday. Anyway, here’s a look at what we’ve got so far. We’ll be looking for third parties to read it and do some editing and constructive criticism soon, so if you’re willing, let me know.

The Proposal

Notes of what a proposal should explain….

1. what is the project?  2. why this project? 3. why this exhibition? How? 4. What it means to others?

Alana’s edit of Bridget’s editing of Alana’s Edit of Bridget’s most recent posting.

Shit. I forgot to copy and paste so the last one that you did is now lost. No biggie? Big Biggie? 

 It’s looking pretty damn good.  Did a bit more tweaking. Now have we filled all the criteria above? Kind of, but not explicitly. I say we do one more edit and have other people give it a read. So this sucker can be whatever length we like now.

Working together in a communal space is both challenging and inspiring but what happens when you collaborate yet are each in isolation? Alana Wilson and Bridget Fairbank met whilst whittling away at plaster in the cold studios of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design ceramics department in winter of 2009. Since then they have corroborated (i’m not sure this is the right word, but … what else? A shared experience…?) as fire tower observers in Alberta, a seasonal job which holds them in solitude and isolates them in the wild.

Solitude- a state or situation of being alone.
Isolate- to be or remain apart from others.
Solitude and isolation both occur either physically or cognitively. In both cases it is our sentiments and psyche that are effected. Solitude tends to amplify our thoughts and can foster great growth. In this time of narrowing frontiers and ever expanding modes of transport and communication, physical isolation is rare but an isolation constructed by society is becoming more and more common. With the past exodus from farm to city, anonymity is more prevalent than ever in history. Often, we isolate ourselves by way of routine or cultural faux-pas. Bridget and Alana tell a story of a physical isolation akin to that of the pioneers before us and the emotional isolation felt by most in modernity. Their isolation has resulted in the contemplation of self, of society, of what solitude means, of how it functions and of how it effects us all. By being physically isolated, the two grapple with cultural solitude through individual artistic explorations. The Isolation Project exhibits each artist’s manifestation of solitude and in turn invites the viewer to acknowledge their personal story of isolation and solitude.

Alana Wilson’s inspiration for this work began with the work of artists such as Margaret Kilgallen and Barry McGee, the availability of materials in a remote situation, and the idea of attempting to capture her scattered thoughts in an esthetically pleasing way. For her, the fire tower season is always a time of deep personal contemplation and questioning. Her contribution to The Isolation Project is a look at some of the ideas and pressures she ruminates on and feels as an isolated female in her early thirties. Even in this post-feminist era where establishing a career for herself is important, she still feels a societal and parental pressure to settle down and have babies, and often questions her desire to do, or not do, so. This has become a seemingly more common place perspective  in a time when more women are remaining independent for a longer period of time, and attempting to find strength and fulfillment in themselves.

A constant struggle has presented itself in her choices and dualities such as Career vs. Family and  Love vs. Ambition are manifested in words and phrases like IndependenceFollow your heartFreedom; and Selfish. These examples and many others are then  embroidered and presented in frames, clustered together on the wall in no particular order, a visual representation of the way thoughts and ideas can come and go during time spent thinking alone in the forest or walking the streets of a city. Embroidery was chosen due to its portable nature and lightweight materials. The fact that embroidery was traditionally done  by school age girls and unmarried women has also been something that Alana could identify with. The act of embroidering in itself provides time for reflection and contemplation on the story she is creating. She often feels that though solitude is necessary for growth and should be taken seriously and even cherished, perhaps the most human desire is to have someone bear witness to our lives and tell our story. The Isolation Project is an illustration of this concept.

Bridget Fairbank’s inspiration came as she traveled across Canada collecting plates and contemplating time. She regarded the extensive highway lines thinking of the solitary summer regimented by routine that lay ahead as a fire tower observer. What would happen if the rhythm in which the day occurred was represented by space and line?

Time never passes at an uniform pace. Each interval of action is different. When a collection of lines is made the thickness, the uniformity and the space between each line all speak to us visually as a concept of speed and pace. By making lines in overglaze pigments fired onto those found side plates from her journey, a plate for each day of isolation at tower, the juice and anxiety, the calm and serenity, the business and revelry of daily time is thus visually communicated. Why make lines on plates? The varied forms and surfaces of pre-owned dishes as an ensemble create a complex narrative. Through the recording of Bridget’s daily routines the existing imagery is slashed and distorted, eluding to the forgotten story of the day, the week, the decade and the place in which the plates were once relevant cared for dishes. The collection represents the blatantly varied nature of Canadian culture. By altering each dish Bridget’s personal tale of daily isolation by way of routine is imposed upon each plate: a metaphor for the individual’s daily chaotic and isolated contribution in our multifaceted culture. Her project is a celebration of everyday solitary experience in a Canadian context. When presented on the wall in calendar format the rhetoric of four months alone in the forest with one’s thoughts is indicated by space and line, evoking emotion and sparking contemplation of one’s individual life in relation to daily routine, time and culture.

The Isolation Project is a recording of two lives spent in the seclusion of  the Canadian wilderness and the urban environment. Whether experienced physically or emotionally, isolation is felt by everyone at one time or another during this busy modern existence. The Isolation Project exemplifies that though solitude and seclusion can be a reprieve from ordinary life, it is seldom a reprieve from oneself.

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