Heather Carey's paintings at Loop Gallery light up the gray winter days like bursts of warm sunshine. Infused with rich bright colour, she plays with our perception by inserting abstract forms into spaces devoid of people. I was particularly drawn to a pair of lush paintings from a fruit orchard as they seemed to wash away the gray days of winter from my psyche.
Ingrid: What is your earliest memory as an artist?
Heather: My earliest memory of making art is probably a pretty typical one. As a four or five year old, my favourite thing to do was take out my giant box of crayons and draw.
Ingrid: What do you enjoy most about painting?
Heather: I enjoy the process (building up, taking away, correcting), the restrictions and freedoms which allow for focused invention and experimentation with different languages of marks, use of the painting space, sizes, colour!
Ingrid: Your work uses very high key colours. How do you chose your palette?
Heather: I'm not interested in realism so even when using a photographic source I am more interested in how the colours on the canvas work with each other. Sometimes I am looking to emphasize certain marks as being artificial or superficial to the image in the painting. In recent work, colours have been selected more as part of a method layering with different mediums, not necessarily knowing how the end product will turn out.
Ingrid: How do you approach a painting? Do you begin with a photographic reference?
Heather: I often begin with a photographic reference, either for drawing purposes or as inspiration for a more abstract representation. I am not interested in being faithful to the photo, but it's often a useful place to start.
Ingrid: Your spaces have a mystical reverence to them. Is this deliberate? How do you chose which spaces to paint?
Heather: I try to chose spaces which are open, easy to modify and add to, which play well with light. Many of my spaces are chosen because of their lack of human presence and their anonymity which makes them more accessible for the viewer and less personal to me. This perhaps means that more viewers can make connections with the spaces.
Ingrid: The addition of the abstract forms over top adds an unlikely morphism and an almost humourous waulity to your paintings. Is this deliberate? How do you know where to make these marks?
Heather: Yes, it is deliberate. The marks are attempting to be a part of the image displayed and do not quite succeed the way it might be expected. They are both separate and connected to the space. I see the images (spaces) depicted on the canvas as a sort of metaphor for the canvas itself and the marks as possibilities within or on top of the space. Because of the way perception works the viewer can complete the image and imagine the marks to be figures within the work. They are playful little invaders. I place them almost intuitively where they seem to fit best within the particular space I am putting them.
Ingrid: What is it about perception that interests you?
Heather: The way the brain is trained to experience the world around us - being able to tell where the edges of objects are, how to navigate around them, what they are used for - based on what we have learned in life. These learned cues can be played with through art to create an experience which is familiar - but not entirely...
Ingrid: You mentioned that you have applied to begin an MFA degree. What do you hope to gain from this experience?
Heather: I am interested in learning, teaching, networking. Basically becoming more aware of what kinds of things are being made and who is making them. I am interested in working closely with other artists, sharing ideas and opinions. I hope to come out of the program feeling more like an artist and less like a student. I have a habit of producing whatever is on my mind, wanting to experiment, and my practice can be a bit all over the place. Not that I want to stop experimenting, but I would like to create a more guided cohesive body of work.
Ingrid: What is your next series?
Heather: I'm looking to extend the ideas of combined spaces and imitation to include more illusions within illusions, doing a series involving bathroom tile patterns.
The exhibition of Heather Carey's work Approaching Mimesis at Loop Gallery will be on display until Sunday, January 24 at 5 pm. If you cannot make it to the show, check out her work on her website here.