The common thread tying together the work of Lisa Geddes and Cheryl Massey isn’t obvious.
One is an established Whistler painter and the other is a long-time local weaver. But dip beneath the surface—just a little—and you’ll find the myriad connections between both their art and their lives.
“We’re at the end of their street, so we’re neighbours,” Geddes says. “The more we got together, the more realized—and our husbands too—we really enjoy each other’s company and became great friends.”
The two often enjoy dog walks together during which they talk about art and draw inspiration for their work from the forest trails. “(The walks) ground us and that connection to nature, it’s just so inspiring for being creative,” Massey says.
But now the two have come together in a more formal way with a collaborative show at The Gallery at the Maury Young Arts Centre called Associations, which opened last Friday, June 15 and runs until July 15. It features 40 of Geddes’ paintings as well as Massey’s hats, baskets, handbags—all made of bull kelp and locally foraged tule rush—and wall hangings. The pieces from both artists are rooted in earthy tones and drawn together by their rich textures. They might be an unlikely pairing, but it works.
“I’m thrilled,” Massey adds, surveying the room an hour before the opening party. “It looks fantastic. It’s really come together.”
The anchoring piece, though, is the only one that combines their talents together in a direct way. Called Chillin’ Sea Swirl, it features a backdrop painting of rich blues and greens with a mesmerizing, dried bull kelp woven into a series of circles in the middle.
“That was the seed for, ‘Maybe we should do a show.’” Geddes says. “We enjoy the same materials, we’re both inspired by nature. It was really interesting to see (both of our work) inhabit the same space. It’s got way more synergy than we thought.”
The show also debuts a new style of painting for Geddes. Three dimensional in nature, several of her new pieces feature a small box cut into them—some with an item inside.
“That was something I had gone to an artist residency to do and picked up that technique,” she says. “I just loved that there’s a three-dimensional aspect to them. The shape and how the light on it casts a shadow, even if there's nothing in it.”
For her part, Massey’s (inherently three dimensional) pieces on display as part of the show are set up to highlight their functional nature. One corner includes a shop-like display with hats and handbags centred around a mirror while the other has a table complete with settings, including her woven placemats and baskets.
“I call it the table for two,” she adds, wearing one of her woven sun hats. “The table is set so people can actually see, ‘Oh this is how I can incorporate Cheryl’s weavings into my home décor.’”
The idea of Associations—the title of the show—is meant to neatly draw everything together, whether you can see those connections or not. “We were riffing on weaving and I used the metaphor of the web of life and being a strand in it and unravelling or being bound by commitments or the feeling of unravelling,” Geddes says. “Because we’re neighbours and friends, that’s about associations.”
While, historically, neither of the artists have spent much time collaborating on pieces, the show could change that. Already, one person has commissioned them to create a similar piece to Chillin’ Sea Swirl.
“We do have a commission to do,” Massey says. “It just happened so organically from us being friends, being artists, sharing the same passion for creating and then just from our association together, it gets woven and blended.”
Associations will be on display at The Gallery until July 15.