Artistic couples connect through creativity

Tyler Clarke
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For Winnipeg artists Michael Boss and Diana Thorneycroft, photographing themselves every day for a full year started off as a quirky experiment.


“Initially it was to see how silly our hair was,” Boss said next to the display of 732 photographs, currently on display at Prince Albert’s Mann Art Gallery, noting that the photos were taken as soon as they woke up in the morning, prior to getting gussied up for the day for every day of 2004.

“It became more emotionally involved and more poignant as time went on,” he said.

Among the 732 photographs are 30 photographs of a blank wall.

“She travelled a lot that year, so I would shoot a blank photograph with emptiness,” Boss explained.

“When I saw it for the first time it was as if I was dead, and I could imagine his life without me, and I was actually short of shocked how many times I was away,” Thorneycroft added.

The duo’s display is one of many currently up at the Mann Art Gallery, which is playing host to “Relative-Connections.”

The exhibit is described is described by the gallery as “an exploration of collaborative art production between artist couples.”

Included among the couples are Prince Albert’s own Connie Freedy and George Glenn, who own and operate a restaurant in Christopher Lake.

Although the two are long-time artists, it wasn’t until they were invited to create a display for the “Relative-Connections” exhibit that they combined artistic forces.

While brainstorming ideas for the show, two little dinosaurs dropped out of a drawing kit Freedy hadn’t touched in 18 years.

“We could be dinosaurs,” Glenn said of their eureka moment.

 “I also sort of see it a little more directly – that the dinosaur is extinct and wall art is sort of extinct,” Freedy said.

“And we’re moving to our own personal extinction,” Glenn said with a chuckle.

Freedy smirked, adding to her previous point; “But perhaps it’s still alive and well.”

The couple’s display is made up of three paintings of two dinosaurs – one for both of them – discussing their anxiety over having to create an art display for the “Relative-Connections” project.

“We had a lot of fun -- we laughed and laughed,” Glenn said. “There were elements of tension … so there was an evolution, but we had a lot of fun.”

Saskatoon couple Paula and Ron Cooley’s contribution to the show had them play off one another’s artistic strengths -- Ron’s in photography and Paula’s in ceramics.

Paula created an abstract ceramic piece and Ron photographed the process.

“This one here is right from the beginning as the piece is actually being made,” Paula said, pointing to the first photograph in the series.

“That was the goal -- to capture the work in progress,” Ron explained. “(These are) moments that are a lost as the piece is glazed and finished.”

The two learned a great deal about one another as well as themselves, Paula concluded, noting that they both brought a unique perspective to the project.

The Relative-Connections exhibit launched on Friday and will remain up until May 25.

The Mann Art Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. 

Organizations: Mann Art Gallery, Prince Albert

Geographic location: Christopher Lake, Saskatoon

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