BY ANDREJ FEHER
The Fine Arts Society of Milton hosted its 19th Annual Milton & Area Studio Tour this past weekend. Visitors were treated to a sneak peek of the artistic process, and a chance to purchase original pieces directly from the artist.
A number of studios were easily accessible from downtown Milton, including those of Nancy Cuttle, a sculptor originally from Etobicoke, and Joy Castello, a photographer.
“I go down to a school for the arts every summer, and take a different course, because I can use their equipment,” says Cuttle. “I’ve learned how to stonecarve, and do steel, and I’m starting clay.”
Cuttle’s studio in Milton is located in a small garden shed that has been repurposed for the creation of the arts. Old sculptures, drawings and newspaper cuttings line the studio. The yard of the studio is lined with sculptures from an exhibit called FENCED, which was displayed at the Milton Centre for the Arts in 2013.
“Most of my art has social or political statements,” she says. “That’s what gets me going.”
FENCED was an art installation that depicted five characters, and their different reactions to barriers in their way. Cuttle says that these barriers are meant to represent the fences humans put up.
The first character, Oblivious, is meant to represent blissful ignorance, unaware of the world around her and what’s coming.
Constrained is an individual who is left trapped by barriers of their own design, and can’t get through.
Not is someone who is desperately struggling to climb the fence, but never quite makes it.
Bodacious is, in Cuttle’s words, “boldly audacious, finds a way to get around or under barriers in life”. Freedom is “victorious and glorious, cuts a hole and breaks through [the barriers]”.
“The idea was that this would be public art,” said Cuttle. “I wanted it to go out and be somewhere that made people think about what we do when we set those barriers up.”
The piece’s public installation was short-lived, however.
“I watched kids climb on [the fence structure],” said Cuttle, “and I thought… this was just a lawsuit waiting to happen, so I put them in the garage with bags over their heads for a couple of years, but then I thought, ‘No, I want to bring this out and enjoy it.’ ”
All five sculptures are now scattered across the studio’s front lawn, and have taken on a life of their own. Constrained and Not are now depicted with a sculpture of U.S. president Donald Trump. Not is trying to scale the fence that surrounds the figurine of Trump. Constrained looks on mournfully.
Cuttle has also had some of her artwork displayed in the Parliament Building in Ottawa.
“There was an MP, Jean Augustine, who I knew when I lived in Etobicoke, and she said, ‘We’re going to take this to Parliament Hill,’ ” she said, “She lobbied all the women MPs and they scraped together funds to bring it up, so I had one day in the Hall of Honour. Parliament was in session, and there is a traditional walk that they do. They carry the staff, and they come down through the Hall and they go into the Parliament buildings.”
Referring to the installation, she added, “They said, ‘You can’t have that up in the morning [of the walk], that’s impossible. So my sculptures, for a while, were in the vault of the National Gallery.”
One of the other studios opened in the downtown area was Joy Castello’s photography studio. She has been doing photography for eight years.
“I have 24,000 images on my computer,” she said, “I take my camera with me when I go, I’m taking images all the time. It’s fun.”
Castello’s passion for photography was ignited by taking art in school, and having to photograph her painting subjects.
“A lot of watercolour artists take pictures… to paint from the photograph, so when I started doing the photographs, I enjoyed the photography,” she said.
Her travels have taken her to a variety of locations, including Alaska.
“But at the end of the day, this is still a hobby for me,” she said.
Other artists who had their studios open to the public over the weekend included jeweler Quinn Cruise, coppersmith Richard Ellard, potter Lou Hanson, and gourd artist Angel Fascinato.