Montreal had one of its infamous ice storms last April 2023. I never thought it would lead to the creation of a couple of artworks and themes for a future project, but life has a way of leading us where it wants to.
Most of us were thankful it didn't happen in February. When freaky events like this occur, I personally try to hold on to "positives" wherever I can find them. My companion and I were particularly lucky because we have a very efficient wood stove in what we call the red room. We isolated the area from the rest of the house by closing doors and started burning our non-polluting fake wood so I could put cups of water on top to make some lukewarm tea.
Nearly everyone lost power during that storm, some for longer periods than others. I bought a phone charger as soon as I could after that. It was terribly stressful to see my battery fade while trying to function in the dark. Cell phones take on major importance during power failures.
The roof of my car had indentations created by the ice spears that fell from trees. Branches stabbed our yard, and it took my partner all summer to clean everything up. Some limbs were huge and positively deadly, penetrating over a foot deep into the grass.
Usually when the power goes out and it's cold, we sleep a lot. At times like these, I always think of our ancestors who worked by candlelight. I'm amazed that humanity managed to achieve anything at all. Mind you, many were probably not in Canada trying to keep warm.
Some friends of mine were also trying to keep warm, and they got under their bed covers wearing winter coats, hats and mitts. Josée took a photo of her partner Roland wearing an extra long tuque.They kindly forwarded pictures of their adventure as a contribution to my project Suite Botanique. I was fascinated by the winter garments, especially Roland's knitted cap with its long tapered end. The more I drew, the more he reminded me of a garden gnome (a much more handsome version of course).
Now let it be known that I have grown a variety of gardens in my lifetime but have never owned a gnome. I decided to run with the garden ornament idea and ended up with a number of artworks. I chose two for the hybrid show. Few artists contemplate gnomes as inspiration for creating artwork, but I find weird subject matter challenging.
- Gnomes aren't very big, about 18 inches high,
- They are earth dwellers who move effortlessly through terra firma,
- They were prudish women in their past lives (prudish, oh-oh! my brain is now on overdrive!),
- Female gnomes are known as "gnomides or gnomesses",
- They've been around for a long time, especially in Europe,
- They protect and help gardens grow.
Below is my first ever drawing of a traditional gnome. I planned on having him hang from something so I drew an outstretched arm. I love big feet. The ones on this guy are perhaps out of character for him but definitely in character for me. Feet are fascinating extremities.
My gnome fused with the drawing I did of Roland, and I ended up with a variety of alternatives on my iPad. I only chose a couple for my show and companion book Hybrida Flores. "Rebirth" is the first one I printed.
Then came "Suspended".
Now one might think this would be the end of my Gnomadic adventures, but nyet, not so fast! Wouldn't you know that my dear friend Claudine Ascher, artist extraordinaire and avid gardener, has asked me to create an artwork starring her as a gnome? How cool is that? She has already posed for a slew of pictures in her fantastic flowering garden.
Looks like I'm rooted to this project for a while to come.