This month, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery
presents an exhibition of the woodwork of Gordon Dunphy. Co-curated by John Leroux and Jennifer Pazienza, Gordon Dunphy: Vessels openrd in Fredericton.
Considered one of the finest wood turners in North America, the late Gordon Dunphy was born and worked in New Brunswick. A dairy farmer in his first career, he became interested in woodturning in his forties, and focused his work on transforming wood from hardwood New Brunswick trees into beautiful vessels. He was an active part of the arts community, as an artist as well as a teacher and mentor. He was extensively recognized for his art, receiving numerous accolades including a Strathbutler Award in 2002 for his work.
Nearly 30 works were donated to the Gallerys collection in 2009, after the artist died; many of which are shown in this new exhibition. The collection was assembled by the artist as a legacy documenting his career. The Beaverbrook Art Gallery is fortunate to be the steward of a career-spanning collection of his works. In a sense, Dunphy curated this exhibition himself, says John Leroux, the Gallerys Manager of Collections and Exhibitions.
Leroux describes the works on view: Quite simply, these are some of the most exquisitely beautiful examples of contemporary woodturning. In front of them, you feel both drawn in by the subtle beauty of the grain patterns and the organic voids in their shells, and enveloped by their structure.
Dunphys approach to woodturning was to highlight the natural features of the wood, to use the heartwood and burls of these trees to guide his creation.
Visual artist and academic Dr. Jennifer Pazienza co-curated the exhibition; she urges visitors to look deeply into Dunphys work. I invite you to experience the ways in which these works compel us to engage with and beyond their surfaces, she says. How they gently insist that we be present with them.
Of particular interest to Pazienza are a number of tall, cylindrical vessels made from the dead centres of hard wood trees. Gordon talked about the importance of trying to catch the spirit that trees have, she says. His ability to make the invisible, visible is readily seen in the prized Birdseye Maple, or the beguiling burls. But in the sometimes, less attended to heartwood vessels, I see a quiet beauty drawn from the very core of a tree: totemic forms with ink-like patterned surfaces, returned to life in Dunphys loving and masterful hands.
Also on view are the exhibitions, The Lost City: Ian MacEacherns Photographs of Saint John, Her Metal, Joseph Kashetsky: Drawings, Paul Daigle: Performance Art, Out from Under the Rug: Ivan Crowells Black History Tapestries from St. Thomas University, and The Pre-Raphaelite Heavenly Vision. Gordon Dunphy: Vessels will be on view until May 19.