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General News · 31st August 2022
Kristen Scholfield-Sweet
I imagine when Judy Williams was a child, she was not so much told to “be careful” as she was told to “pay attention.” And so she has. Her current exhibition at the Old Schoolhouse Gallery, Water / Colour, attends to geological data, images of collection sites, recorded stories of place, and paintings that allow water to create whatever marks, tone or texture it might, without additional art media. The show is a remarkable conversation with wild water, and it is equally a conversation with the viewer about what art is.

When we are not paying particular attention, we perhaps see water and art as two profoundly different sensory experiences. Water is expected to not be unique--colorless and without form except that given by its surrounding container. An art piece is expected to have unique presence through color, texture and form. And yet here in the gallery the collection of one has transformed into a presentation of the other.

Judy says of her experience, “As I collected water, water collected me.” Good art is like that also. It requires I collect my experiences into a single-pointed attention. These ephemeral, ghost-like paintings of water were especially revealing of my visual expectations for what art is. I am surprised at how much I wanted to see a subject, a something, that I could identify, that I could label. It was almost embarrassing how I delighted in a wee bit of color and texture in the piece titled, “Church House Creek.”

Before leaving the Gallery, I stood for some time in front of a small watercolor piece titled, “Heron, Cumsack Creek.” My experience in the main gallery transformed my ability to actually SEE the delicate feathery edges and flow of colored wash in this quiet silhouette of a bird famous for paying attention. Judy says of her exhibition intention that, “I hope to sensitize viewers to the value of this (Bute) wild water storage area, its salmon habitat and the magnificence of its landscape. We need to acknowledge that inlets are the engines of our coast. I hope the gentle painting and stories expand that view.”
Thank you, Judy, you have also shown me how I limit myself to familiar visual expectations, and so have expanded my view of art.

Water / Colour continues at the Old Schoolhouse Gallery

Friday, Sept 2nd 6 - 9 pm
Saturday Sept 3rd 2 - 6 pm
Sunday Sept 4th 2 – 6 pm

Join Judy during her Artist’s evening on Friday Sept 2nd at 7 pm. Judy will make use of Cascade, the tall wooden cabinet containing files of work in the Water / Colour installation. From audience requests, she will remove files and either read from or talk about the water gathering at that site.