Tangible: Crafting the Future on the 50th Anniversary of the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador
Guest Curator: Bruno Vinhas
Artists: Michael Flaherty, Barb Hunt, John Lundrigan, Urve Manuel, Inez Shiwak
For 50 years, the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador has been committed to the sharing and appreciation of craft. It has bolstered the vibrant craft community in this province by exhibiting and supporting more than a thousand craftspeople, encouraging innovation and preservation of traditional craft techniques.
This exhibition highlights five artists who work with materials in an evocative and conceptual manner: Barb Hunt, Michael Flaherty, John Lundrigan, Urve Manuel and Inez Shiwak. Newly-created work and large-scale craft installations create a sensory space that shows how contemporary craft can communicate not only process but emotions. The exhibition promotes how raw materials can be worked with to tell complex stories involving grief, wonder, rural life and tradition.
This exhibition is one of two displayed concurrently—the other at the Craft Council of NL Gallery (155 Water Street, St. John’s, NL)—marking the fundamental role that the Council and its craftspeople play in this province. Acting in conversation, these exhibitions connect past and present in order to find a potential roadmap for the future.
A full-colour, multi-author catalogue accompanies the exhibition.
About the Curator
Bruno Vinhas is a curator, textile and installation artist originally from Brazil who travelled extensively before settling in Newfoundland to undertake the College of the North Atlantic’s Textiles: Craft and Apparel Design Program. Vinhas’ work centres on experiences of cultural displacement, spirituality and transformation. He has been working as the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Gallery Director since August 2018, previously holding the position of Assistant Director. His primary focus in a gallery environment regards accessibility and inclusion in public art spaces and dissemination and preservation of craft practices. Vinhas has curated numerous craft exhibitions as Gallery Director and collaborated on other multimedia, theatre, film and dance projects–always integrating craft elements in conversation with these disciplines.
About the Artists
Michael Flaherty was born in St. John's, NL, in 1978, and subsequently spent much of his childhood getting lost in the woods. As an adult, he lived alone for three months on a deserted island, crisscrossed Canada and the United States by bicycle and inhabited abandoned communities in his home province, all as part of his art practice.
Flaherty is a ceramic artist with a diverse practice that includes pottery, sculpture, installation and performance. A graduate of NSCAD University (BFA), and the University of Regina (MFA), he has travelled widely for artist residencies and teaching appointments. His work often touches on themes of environmental and societal fragility, and he pursues projects that enable him to collaborate with nature. Recently Flaherty has undertaken new research in other craft media, most notably crochet and weaving, which he often combines with his works in clay. He is currently a Ceramics Instructor at Haliburton School of Art and Design in Ontario, and operates his studio, Wild Cove Pottery, in Port Union, NL.
Flaherty's work has been widely exhibited across North America in public galleries and museums, including The Rooms, Confederation Centre of the Arts (PEI), The Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre (AB), the McMichael Art Gallery (ON), among numerous others. He is a published author on the subject of ceramics, and his art has appeared in many publications in the past twenty years.
Barb Hunt has a Diploma in Art from the University of Manitoba and an MFA in Fibres from Concordia University. Her work has been exhibited internationally and across Canada, most recently in the Biennale interntionale du lin in Quebec and the Bonavista Biennale in NL. She has been awarded Canada Council grants and artist residencies in Canada, Paris and Ireland. She taught visual art for over twenty years at Western University (ON), Queen’s University (ON), and Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, where she still holds the position of Professor Emerita.
Urve Manuel is continuously amazed at the beauty of nature. From the tiniest Calypso orchid on the limestone barrens of the northern tip of Newfoundland to the osprey soaring over her studio in Rocky Harbour, Manuel finds inspiration for her leaded and fused glass panels, as well as kiln-formed glass sculpture and functional objects. Oftentimes a story told to her will resonate in such a way that aspects will carry over into her work; her latest life-sized work, Ephemeral Joys: Childhood Memories is a small piece of her own story put to glass.
Besides completed glass pieces, Manuel’s studio is crammed full of ideas, works in progress and sketches or snippets of conversations hastily jotted down on any scrap of paper, waiting for the right time to be translated into glass. The interactions of colour, texture and the ever-changing light bring life to Manuel’s vibrant works, mimicking the beauty surrounding her.
Self-taught after an introduction to traditional leaded glass-making in British Columbia, Urve has been working with glass for eighteen years. She works year-round in her studio and gallery, The Glass Station, in Rocky Harbour, NL.
John Lundrigan is a self-taught woodworker born in Corner Brook, NL, now residing in St. John's, NL. He cycled through many different careers in his life, but the lessons given by his father, who was an avid part-time woodworker and wood-turner, made an impact on him. Lundrigan’s father taught him how to use, understand and work with different types of wood while living on a farm in the Humber Valley, NL. Woodworking has become his passion and primary focus since 2015.
Lundrigan’s experimentation with Spalted wood started during his teenage years and continues to this day. He concentrates on using the lathe, scroll saw and other woodworking tools. Since moving to St. John’s, he has expanded his practice and now works with a variety of local wood species for their superior quality due to their slow growth. He believes that the story of wood is as important as the finished product.
Lundrigan's artwork has been featured at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador and several galleries across the province.
Inez Shiwak, from Rigolet, NL, is known for her work as an accomplished sewer, primarily working with tanned sealskin. She learned her skills from her mother, Jane Shiwak, who is one of few artists in Nunatsiavut who continue to make Inuit dolls. Shiwak first learned pattern making as a way of participating in intergenerational knowledge sharing, which is at the core of Inuit craft.
Shiwak is also a video artist and producer who has worked as a researcher and activist for many years. She is an advocate for language preservation and youth education, and is passionate about cultural mentorship programs in her community. Shiwak was honoured by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami with the Inuit Recognition Award during ArcticNet 2016 for her work on climate change.
Image credit: Urve Manuel. Ephemeral Joys: Childhood Memories (2022). Glass, lead came, wood, metal frame, sled and hitch. 188 x 129 x 236 cm. Collection of the artist. Image courtesy of the artist. (detail)