Gatineau artist Michèle Provost says she excels when working in a secluded setting, and that’s exactly what she’ll get as the inaugural participant of a new Gabriola Island artist residency.
Starting this month Provost is taking part in the Kasahara Gabriola Trust Artist Residency, a new four month-long residency named for longtime Gabriola resident and art supporter Toshiko Kasahara and administered by the Gabriola Arts Council. This is Provost’s first trip to the Gulf Islands and she said it was “love at first sight.”
“Geographically it’s isolated and beautiful in nature but also when you’re really concentrating on a body of work and real life or usual life does not interfere whatsoever, that’s another level of isolation which I really thrive on,” Provost said, also mentioning that “on top of it all, there is COVID isolation as well.”
Provost will be creating an art book that explores the positives of aging. She said it’s a topic she’s been researching for a long time. She’s read academic articles and studied how older people are discussed in various media, including late-night comedy programs, but she also plans to talk about aging with some of her new neighbours.
“It is such a universal subject by definition. Whatever age you are, this is what you’re headed towards,” she said. “And then just to have some input from other people, not just artists – it’s always nice also to see what other artists do and to exchange views on things – but anybody would have something to reflect on this that I could take down and incorporate in the project as well.”
She said the book will be collage-like and layered and may have elements of textile art and stitch work. Provost said she’s made several art books but it was nearly impossible to determine what this one would look like ahead of time so she only brought very basic supplies. She said “whatever is found locally also influences how the work will become” and she plans on visiting the Gabriola Island Recycling Organization re-store for some local items.
Provost said the most valuable piece of advice she got in art school was “make it worth their while” and she aims to make her project appealing to those who may not have interest in her work or the subject matter.
“It’s not just about me and what I feel like doing,” she said. “The person who does not know me and takes some time out of their day and goes somewhere to look at what I’ve made, there’s got to be something extra in there for them.”
Provost’s Kasahara Gabriola Trust Artist Residency continues until the end of January. She said her finished project will be on display at the Gabriola Arts and Heritage Centre.