A paint box may be seen as a vessel containing the means to create, the materials and tools, but for Kathleen Ainscough, it is something more––it represents inspiration and the call to create, which she has felt from an early age.”
My grandmother, who was an artist and very creative, had a paint box she travelled with,” she says. “I inherited that paint box.
“From when I was a child, I wanted to be an artist.”
Dedicating considerable time to her art––and painting every day ––brought the decision to present her work to a wider audience. Ainscough sees her upcoming solo exhibition at the Gallery @ Cove Commons, titled Conceal and Reveal, as “a big but important step,” she says.
“I definitely had to work on my courage about sharing my work, but it’s all part of the practice. After all, putting my art out in the world is one of the reasons for creating it,” she says.
She adds that the decision to compile a collection has allowed her to reflect on her journey as artist. “I never truly called myself an artist until I took a deep dive into my practice and spent a couple of years just making art, setting up a home studio, taking workshops and teaching workshops,” she explains. “The sharing is the best part, and teaching workshops has helped me greatly with my art practice and defining what is important to me and connecting with others on that level. Interestingly, my grandmother was also very active with a local paint group.”
From her years of engagement with the arts community, from the early days with the Foxglove Fibre Art Studio to being on the Arts Council Board and lately working as arts administrative assistant and program coordinator, Ainscough is well known on Bowen Island. Her connection to the community adds another – more personal – dimension to the exhibit.
While Ainscough’s work has changed over the years, there are certain threads in her ideas, themes and materials or forms, which get re-interpreted in different contexts and media.
Repeating forms and symbols include birds, feathers, hands, patterns and textures from nature, spirals, grids, bones, shells, roses, thorns, beauty in decay, cycles of life and vessels, perhaps reflecting her earlier years, when her work included ceramics and other sculptures.
Her current show consists mainly of mixed-media paintings collaged with ephemera Ainscough has collected over the years, such as papers, letters, magazine pages, old catalogues, newspaper, packaging, textiles and some of her own photos.
“Working on my largest pieces, the theme of the vessel re-emerged,” she says. “I see it as a metaphor for the body, a place for storing knowledge, food and wine and a container for birth, life and death.”
Ainscough likes to “start working intuitively and quickly,” she says. “I build up textures and layers and then I sand and scrape to see what should be kept and what should be covered. Sometimes, the really good stuff gets buried.”
Some, but not all pieces “come together seemingly with no effort, like they existed inside already and just needed to be brought forth,” she says. “Others are a struggle and may take years before they are resolved––or even painted over.”
There are certain conditions that help Ainscough get into a creative flow in the studio. She may be inspired by music, by cleaning and organizing supplies, by experimenting with new colours or tools or by being out in nature or in a new place.
What is important is to create on a regular basis. “I try to paint at least a bit every day,” she says. “And I work on several pieces and bodies of work at one time, so that things stay interesting and challenging.”
Conceal and Reveal, works by Kathleen Ainscough, will be shown at the Gallery @ Cove Commons, Bowen Island, from July 10 to August 11, with an opening reception held Saturday, July 13 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be live music with Cindy Fairbank and Rust Wines will be featured at the concession.
All are welcome.