Dear Human. A Matter of Light, Recycled paper, ceramic, ink. Image courtesy of the artists.

Lasting Effect

Bridget Catchpole, Dear Human, Evelyn Grant, Rachelle LeBlanc, Dani Ortman, Mengnan Qu, Juliana Rempel, Amir Sheikhvand

Curated by Curated by Melanie Egan

August 6 – August 6, 2020



A work can endure because it fits our idea of what constitutes classic design, or simply thanks to process and materials. These works resonate with the past, by reimagining timeless methods, or re-purposing materials to infuse them with contemporary meaning.

It’s about work that lasts.

– Melanie Egan, Head, Craft & Design




Bridget Catchpole

Tumbling through the ocean, weathering the elements, remnants of plastic rope wash up on the Pacific Northwest coast. The knots are all that remain of these utilitarian cast offs. I ponder their history and want to elevate their position from trash, to emphasize what I find so captivating about them. Washed ashore… with love is an ironic representation, challenging traditional notions of material hierarchy. Silver poses as 24kt gold or steel, plastic rope masquerades as a precious gem. The work endeavours to explore the incongruity when synthetic waste materials are imbued with renewed worth.

– Bridget Catchpole

Bridget Catchpole is a studio jeweller who lives and works in Vancouver. Currently, her work looks at patterns of plastic waste from throwaway culture and how it has become a pervasive presence in the natural environment. These artist-harvested materials become a departure point for broader topics, which trace back to a partiality involving worth and waste, challenging traditional notions of value. Catchpole exhibits nationally and internationally and has received numerous grants and accolades for her exhibition work challenging traditional notions of material hierarchy.


Dear Human (Jasna Sokolovi and Noel O’Connell)

A MATTER OF LIGHT is the product of new material exploration in paper pulp and how it can be recycled and combined with other materials such as ceramics into new contexts, with a particular focus on lighting and wall-treatments.

Through their projects, Dear Human offers an alternative perception to overlooked everyday landscapes by highlighting the hidden potential of places, buildings and objects. They are discreet invitations to explore, collaborate and play with the intent of inspiring consciousness and curiosity.

Dear Human is the creative studio founded by Jasna Sokolovic and Noel O’Connell in 2009. In their life and art they are always on the lookout for fresh opportunities to work in new environments, experiment with materials and collaborate with kindred spirits. The most recent endeavors include residencies at Medalta in Alberta; La Ceiba Grafica in Mexico; Banff Centre in Alberta; and in Lisbon, Portugal, where they traveled and worked accompanied by their two children.

Sokolovic has a background in architecture and a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design. O’Connell has an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Between them they have been awarded the Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics, a Fulbright Scholarship in art and architecture, and their work is held in museum collections in Korea, China, Slovenia, and throughout North America.


Evelyn Grant

I have worked in the ceramic field creating functional pieces for the past 35 years. These one-of-a-kind pieces were produced on the side while bringing up children as a single parent and working a full-time job. In 2008, I left my day job to pursue a Masters of Ceramic Design degree at Staffordshire University, Stoke on Trent. Here I learned to combine industrial technology with my artistic practice.

Upon returning to Canada, I established Evelyn Grant Design Ltd., a small artist-based production company creating heirloom quality, limited edition works in the finest materials available. With so many goods produced for a disposable market, we are hoping our products will be used, treasured and passed down through the generations.

I design and create the shapes, molds and hand-draw many of the images. Additional images are sourced through antique material, collaged and altered to suit my purpose or narrative. The narrative has always been of great importance in my work, and I find children’s ware a perfect platform for the illustration of my stories.

– Evelyn Grant

Evelyn Grant has a certificate of Public Art Project Management and a BFA Degree in ceramics from the University of Calgary, a diploma from the Alberta College of Art and Design, and a Masters of Ceramic Design with Distinction from Staffordshire University, Stoke on Trent, UK. She has been exhibiting her work internationally for the past 30 years. Her work is carried by Liberty of London (UK), Isetan Mitsukoshi (Tokyo), and Blue Tree (NYC), among others. Grant currently lives and works in Vancouver.


Rachelle LeBlanc

I have come to realize that no matter which part of the country we are from, we all have similar stories: struggles and memories shared with family. When we are displaced, we carry our traditions with us, we try to recreate what has been left behind and find a new sense of belonging. Moments like this clarify our existence and find a poetic meaning in everyday life. This piece is part of a series based on the documentation of my life’s story. The fragmentation of memories, the telling of stories and the expression of unknown and known fears find their place in the images created using thousands of loops, each one expressed through the meditation of process, essentially a pixel within a dense pile forming intricate and subtle imagery.

The technical aspects of getting the material hooked onto a three dimensional form without any sign of construction technique or structural support are testament to the importance of valuing our own experiences and crafting work that honours both life and place. It is not only vital that my work expresses a fresh encounter that goes beyond the preconceptions of a traditional medium such as rug hooking, which have deep roots in Canadian history, it is also what gives me my sense of belonging in this sometimes crazy and rushed world.

– Rachelle LeBlanc

Rachelle LeBlanc is a Canadian textile artist. Born in Waltham, Massachusetts, to French Acadian parents, she grew up in New Brunswick. After graduating from the Fashion Design program at Sheridan College in 1989, she worked as a sportswear designer in Montreal, until moving to Alberta in 2008. With a growing international reputation, her work is known for its distinct style, technical excellence and for breaking new ground within the traditional craft of rug hooking.

The piece Embrace is part of a series of works created with a production grant from the Canada Council for the Arts – The Alberta Creative Development Initiative Grant for Individuals 2012.



Dani Ortman

Textile artist Dani Ortman finds herself drawn to patterns that channel ideas of infinite possibility, and provoke wonder and bewilderment. Her Symmetry series explores the ever-expanding potential of a chaotic pattern. A pattern that, when viewed as a whole, assimilates fluidity and order. Ortman uses the medium of hand weaving to illustrate inner visions. Intricate designs are structured in cloth through the careful arrangement of threads in interlocking grids of rising/falling sequences. Ortman hand dyes special colours using plant-based dyes. Materials are ethically sourced and all pieces are handwoven by the artist on a floor loom in her studio located on Manitoulin Island.

An evolving consciousness is the light that inspires her process and concept. With acute attention placed on each individual thread, Ortman seeks to create a product unparalleled by anything made by machine. A product that is sustainably sound and crafted to last a lifetime.

With specialized training and a youthful spirit, Dani Ortman takes a traditional craft and explores its expansive potential. She seeks to understand the intricacies of handweaving and, in turn, craft products that push conventional boundaries and exceed levels of fine craftsmanship. She works with ethical fibres, natural indigo and plant-based dyes. Ortman first learned to weave just over five years ago. She is passionate about all textile arts and is driven to understand the process of crafting them all by hand. With weaving, spinning, dyeing, lace making, and fashion design under her belt, she is well on her way.

Mengnan Qu

To me, cultural background is inescapable. During the past years of working on jewellery and metalsmithing, my understanding of cultural identity has been distilled. My understanding of Chinese culture has deepened beyond the cultural symbols floating on the surface of art and popular culture. The reality of traditional culture is like the animal in a zoo cage. It’s alive, but without a soul.

Traditional enameling and metalsmithing techniques have been fashionable in both Western and Eastern cultures. Enamel represents my perspective of mixing culture. My work is inspired by everyday life and my interpretation of traditional stories and texts. I realized the absurd, so-called superstitions and mythologies might be real. The real incidents happening around us may be absurd. I hope that viewers of my work will rethink the meaning of culture, where culture inhabits, and the value of traditions.

– Mengnan Qu

Mengnan Qu’s process is meditative, patient and skilled, fueled by her unique cross-cultural perspective. Born in China, she has been studying the arts in China and Canada since she was 15 years old. She received a BFA from NSCAD University in 2012, and is currently working towards an MFA from State University of New York at New Paltz. Qu has exhibited her work in Canada, the US and internationally. She has received many awards, scholarships and artist residencies. Qu is a finalist for the Niche Award for 2015.


Juliana Rempel

I create ceramic sculptures influenced by everyday objects. Exploring the relationship between familiarity and ambiguity, these silent objects look to find a voice within their frames. Inspired by the ability of the everyday to reveal new ideas, my groupings create new platforms for these objects.

Striving to honour the silent bystanders of our day, the compositions allow objects to emerge from the shadows, posed and poised. This framing of the everyday reintroduces the familiar by separating our understanding from function, ultimately representing these objects for their symbolic values. There is a beauty found in the shapes and colours that compose the settings of our day. Within the soft and muted colours of the mundane, there is a silence. Through the silence, vivid colours and shapes emerge to create a disturbance among the stillness.

– Juliana Rempel

Juliana Rempel is a graduate of Emily Carr University in Vancouver where she received her Bachelor of Visual Arts degree. Following this, she attended Cardiff School of Art and Design in Wales, UK, where she completed her Master of Arts in Ceramics. Rempel has attended artist residencies such as the International Ceramic Studio in Hungary, Fourwinds Arts Residency in France, as well the Medalta International Ceramic Residency in Medicine Hat, Alberta. She has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally, most recently at the Dade Art and Design Lab (Calgary, AB), Art Souterrain (Montreal, QC), the Harris-Warke Gallery (Red Deer, AB), and The Gardiner Museum (Toronto, ON) as part of Connections: Canadian and British Ceramics.


Amir Sheikhvand

“Happiness is a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

– Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

This series of artworks are functional pieces of jewellery that represent a forbidden paradise – that unattainable place of ultimate beauty, comfort, pleasure and wonder. The grid-like cage imagery signifies the obstacles to this garden of delights, synonymous with Heaven, such as religious faith and righteousness. However, Garden suggests that paradise is within each person’s grasp; it is part of mundane human existence. The artworks propose that this higher place is actually a state of mind attainable in the corporeal world, not just accessible to those who seek acceptance to a heavenly afterlife from God.

– Amir Sheikhvand

Born in Tehran, Canadian artist Amir Sheikhvand currently lives and works in Toronto. After studying biology and graphic design, he continued his studies in jewellery and graduated from Tehran’s Gold Institute in 1994. He has been an apprentice to some of Iran’s masters in the field of Malileh-kary filigree work, Mina-kary miniature enameling, and Ghalam-zani. He is a pioneer of educating women in jewellery-making in Iran. Sheikhvand resumed his practice in Canada in 1999 after several solo exhibitions in Iranian galleries. His practice uses academic knowledge, traditional skills and modern techniques, as well as a multidisciplinary approach and eclectic media. Sheikhvand is a mentor to students at George Brown College and an advisor to the Metal Studio at Harbourfront Centre. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in both juried and invitational exhibitions, in galleries such as Valley Art Gallery (California), McMaster Museum of Art (Hamilton, ON), Tom Thomson Art Gallery (Owen Sound, ON), Arta Gallery (Toronto), Tehran Contemporary Museum of Art and Harbourfront Centre.

The artist acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council.

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