Artists appreciate Galleria backdrop
By Patrick Anderson
Andrea Madsen will try anything. Her artwork, on display at the London New Arts Festival this past weekend, showed an eclectic range of materials everything from nuts and bolts to discarded windows went into creating her experimental art. Judging from her work on display, Madsen has a tool box that would make Bob Vila jealous. Her art gives a new meaning to the term "mixed-media."
"I'm not strictly just a painter," says Madsen. "I will use any material available. Too many artists at shows seem to be saying 'I can draw and I'm showing off the fact that I can draw.' I feel artists need to push the envelope a bit and try new things."
Madsen, a third-year art student at Western, is just one of the many visual artists which had works at this year's festival. Like most of the artists, the festival was her first major exhibition experience. For those just starting out in the industry, Madsen says, events like the LNAF are extremely important.
"Artists need venues like this, not just for public exposure but to build contacts with other artists. For instance, today I talked to a co-op about joining them."
Another emerging talent featured at the festival was April White, a recent York University grad who has just begun to exhibit her work publicly. The tone of her work is dark, with gothic figures set against dream-like landscapes of desolation. When asked whether these reflected a larger statement about the human condition, White is reticent.
"I don't have a big political message or anything. They're just reflections of particular moods or impressions I felt at the time." Translation: humankind is doomed.
This year's festival also included many veteran artists from the London and surrounding area. Morag Webster-Lesarge recently moved to the London area from the less-than-Bohemian town of Sudbury. When asked how she found the art scene in London, Webster-Lesarge is ambivalent.
"Compared to Sudbury, London is like an art mecca, but that's not saying much," she admits. "There is not a large 'scene' as such, but events like this will hopefully change that."
Webster-Lesarge's work is another blend of different media; her strength, however, is in portraiture. Her large piece depicting a friend's daughter, was a near-photographic rendering which caught the viewer with its colour and composition. It is clear Webster-Lesarge is an artist with a wide variety of interests.
All told, the majority of the artists at the festival agreed this year was the best ever. Artist Joanne Dallman, for instance, likes the Galleria venue.
"Indoors, we're not hostage to the weather as in previous years [outside on Dundas St.]," says Dallman. "The sheer number of people going through is great here."
The variety and quality of the displays at the festival was surprising, revealing just how much talent there is in the area. If this year's festival was any indication of the health of London's visual arts scene, the prognosis is excellent.