Thursday, July 14, 2022

Sun Spots at the Gladstone House

Sun Spots (1) detail, cyanotype on paper by April Martin, 2021

April Martin was one of the Toronto area artists who was invited to create new art for the renovated Gladstone Hotel, now called Gladstone House, one of the oldest buildings still operating as a hotel in Toronto. 

Sun Spots (1),2021, cyanotype on paper 

Her work responds to the Romanesque Revival architecture of the 1889 building, specifically the ten small windows made from pressed glass that are a focal point of the Queen street entrance.    

She made photograms of these windows by pressing photosensitive paper against the textured glass.     

To create the cyanotypes the artist needed to prepare good quality art paper with the photo chemicals and keep it protected from light until the last minute.  A tall step ladder was one of her tools. 

April Martin is a process-based sculptor. 

She enjoys creating art that allows things to happen.  

In this case the sunlight acted together with the materials of chemicals and paper.  

This blog has featured April Martin before.  Please have a look at the August 2019 post, or the January 2018 post or the May 2016 posts if you are interested in seeing more of her collaborations.   

This artist is curious.  She believes in magic.  She opens personal windows for herself and for us. 

Sun Spots (1) detail, cyanotype on paper by April Martin 2021

April Martin is my daughter and last month I visited Gladstone House (room 307) so that I could see her work.  The rooms are elegant and have a minimalist aesthetic.   I took this photo just before I left after a lovely two night stay (and a beautiful city visit with her). 

All the guest rooms have the neutral style seen in this photo yet each is made unique with original art created by local Toronto artists.  I've written about the Gladstone hotel's annual exhibition of textile art, Hard Twist, several times on Judy's Journal.  While that show is not happening anymore, the hotel is still committed to supporting the arts.  Read about the art program and find the names of the other artists involved in the new d├ęcor at this link.

"Look up!  Notice the ten panes of differently textured glass, as you come and go through the south entrance of the hotel. These photograms were captured by pressing photosensitive paper against early spring light that filtered through the unique crystalline surfaces.  Like the marks that stain your eyelids after staring at the bright sky, these shapes stretch as doorways into other, blue worlds."  April Martin

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Kirsti Rantanen

Kirsti Rantanen

A strong woman textile artist from Finland.   

She is having a retrospective exhibition this year at the Craft Museum of Finland in Jyvaskyla entitled The Space of Textiles.  It continues until the end of August 2022.

Although she was well known in her native Finland, she is almost unknown in other parts of the world.  The images in this post are from the exhibition of her work that took place at Helsinki's Design Museum of Finland in  2016-2017 that was simply entitled Kirsti Rantanen. 

Thank you to Camille who wrote a blog post about Helsinki's design district in 2017.

The above photo and the one below are from Camille's blog.  

Several circles and zig zags float through the exhibition space and guide us through the space.  

Kirsti Rantanen was born in 1930.

She graduated from the Department of Textile Art at the School of Art and Design in Helsinki in 1952 and during the 50's taught art and design there. 

During this time she also designed Rya rugs and furnishing textiles.

During the 1970's she began to experiment with sculptural textiles and also to advocate for women artists.

After the age of 40, her work became three-dimensional.

It takes up space.  

We move around it, yearn to touch it.  

The scale is awesome.  

Rantanen's textiles are large and in this way they mimic nature.

trees      mountains     clouds 

In 1983, Kirsti Rantanen won an award that allowed her to take time off teaching and be a free lance artist for five years. 

She moved out of Helsinki to the medieval town of Porvoo and began the most fertile period of her career.  She started to use the ancient Sumak method of weaving on a vertical warp that hangs from the ceiling.  To weave large scale on a free vertical warp means that she had to work on a ladder sometimes while weaving.  Yes, she was a strong woman artist.  

Her monumental weavings were made between 1984 and 1993 when she was in her 50’s and early 60’s. 

In 2017, after the exhibition of this body of work at the Design Museum, Kirsti Rantanen donated the collection to the museum.  
Women artists from pre-internet times are being discovered by curators today.  It's exciting.

It is good that the Design Museum is taking care of her work and that her work is being shared with other museums.  
Apologies that I have not been able to find the titles of most of Rantanen's sculptural pieces. I will keep looking.  I will be paying attention to her name.
Her name is Kirsti Rantanen.  (1930-2020)

She has a Wikipedia page that you can look up.  She has a daughter who is a respected artist named Silja Rantanen.  

A review of the Design Museum exhibition is available through this link.   The article is written by Satu-Lotta Peltola
Kirsti went on to make more sculptural work that involved wire and the spiral as a form.  

Requiem is the title of the blue piece, Abandoned Stage is the title of the black portal,  all work by Kirsti Rantanen