Home and Place  (Lost and Forgotten)

 

This body of work began almost exactly one year ago during a residency in a remote town in Newfoundland, about as far east as you can go in North America.  I have lived in many Canadian provinces and culturally they are all quite different, in part because of the great distance between them.  Newfoundland is very old with an incredibly rich history of tradition and a unique dialect which result in a strong sense of place, and my time there has made me reflect on my own identity.  In contrast to Newfoundland, the prairie provinces (where I am originally from) are much younger with immigration occurring in waves from different countries leading to a melting pot of ethnicity and religion.  For many, like myself, this has resulted in a disconnect from the cultural traditions of our ancestors.  Left with a few half forgotten stories from places we have never visited and somewhat traditional holiday dinners, it becomes difficult to define an identity.

During my residency and throughout this following year, I have thought a lot about the influence of culture and identity on my art.  Growing up on the prairies, with its open vistas and never ending skies, I recognize the impact of space on how I see myself and the world and like many prairie artist, space is a key aspect of my composition.  I start my paintings with an underlying base of collage. I am subconsciously drawn to ephemera, newspaper fragments, unfinished art or craft projects or even scraps of old wallpaper which are then partly obscured or sometimes completely covered up. The lost and forgotten are not just a base to build my paintings on but critical to the composition, creating a tapestry of pieces of images and lines of stories that are woven together.  While I have always known when a piece is complete, it has been difficult for me to express what it is about the final work that leads me to stop.  I have described this process as satisfying my personal aesthetic.  I now realize that it is more than a visual process.  My art has always been extremely personal.  The final composition balancing the fragments of lost and forgotten elements, imagery and negative space are a reflection of how I see myself and the world.  My art provides an image of my identity that I would never be able to express in words.

Alayne Spafford received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honours from the University of Saskatchewan.  After studying textiles at Concordia University and the Centre de Metier d’Art en Construction Textile in Montreal, she worked for many years in the costume department of Cirque du Soleil.  Now residing in Edmonton, Alberta, Alayne focuses on painting full time. In 2013 Alayne collaborated to form Burn Design Collective, an art technique created with shou-sugi-ban (burnt cedar). Her work is represented in galleries and private collections worldwide.

 

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