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Colourful, creative and scary.
These are a few of the words that artists in the autumn group exhibition at the Cornwall Library Art Gallery are using to describe their work.
Entitled “Dreams and/or Nightmares”, it’s a perfect theme for this time of year, says Giselle Déziel, art committee member.
“We’ve just had Halloween, which stirs the imagination. It’s also darker at this time of the year and it changes your sleep pattern. Then, of course, when you’re sleeping, you’re dreaming with an occasional nightmare
Each of the 15 pieces in the show has a dream or nightmare-related story to tell.
Take Jason Johnston’s “The Hag”, for instance. The acrylic painting of a woman with a wrinkled face was inspired by a nightmare he had in his 20s.
“I saw a lady wrapped in red silk, sitting on the edge of my bed. It was really scary. I remember trying to get up, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t yell in the dream. It was really frightening.”
It was a nightmare that stuck with him so he told his mother about it. Growing up in rural Newfoundland, she had a folklore explanation. “Mum told me I was visited by the Hag, an evil spirit or a witch that visits people at night, through their dreams.”
But, after looking into it a little further, he found out that he had sleep paralysis, which can involve hallucinations. It comes on due to stress and lack of sleep.
“I was going to college at the time and was stressed. I like the scientific version best.”
Exhibition fast facts
- “Dreams and Nightmares” runs at the Cornwall Library Art Gallery until Nov. 29
- It is one of two group art shows held at the Cornwall Library Art Gallery each year. The other is held in the spring. There’s a youth exhibit starting at the end of November that runs until December.
- The other months of the year features solo exhibitors.
- Art committee members are Pam Wheatley, Fred Gill, Giselle Déziel and Chris Marshall. The committee asks artists, artisans and crafts people in Cornwall and the surrounding communities to submit one of their works, per group exhibit.
Source: Cornwall Art Committee
Then consider Déziel’s photograph, “Dark Thoughts”. Taken while she was on vacation, last year, it shows a joker figure sitting on a bench in a storefront window.
“Walking along a street in Niagara Falls, filled with signs for attractions like Dracula’s Castle and a Haunted House, reminded me of the old movies that our parents told us we shouldn’t watch because they might give us nightmares,” says Déziel, who lives in Cornwall.
But when she came to the joker in the window she froze in her tracks.
“I thought,‘oh my gosh, he’s going to move at any minute.’ But, in the end, it was a wax figure,” says Déziel, who angled herself in such a way she was able to capture him in the picture as well as the mood in the street.
Artist Simon McNeil captures the mood on the street in his work, “Suburban Dream”. The inspiration for it happened while walking his dog past a construction site where they had built a few houses, last spring.
Close to sunset, it was a magical moment, McNeil says.
“The earth was all churned up with all these ruts that really captured the light. The sun was low and was reflecting on the backs of the houses behind it. The darkness of the soil and the light coming off the houses made for a really striking picture.”
Artist Joyce Gill has used her imagination to create a striking “Haunted House”, made of fibre, feathers and paint.
“I love Halloween and seeing the kids coming, so excited, up to the door,” says the Cornwall artist.
Lifting up the purple and orange house, she smiles.
“I can picture them climbing the hill to the house and perhaps picking something from the cauldron.”