Estuary: mystery in art

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Water features prominently in Pat Gibson's current exhibit, Estuary, at The Station Arts Centre in Tillsonburg until Dec. 16.

The Mix, her largest work on display, is a full 79 inches by 126 inches and it represents the mix of salt and fresh water. An estuary, Gibson notes, is where the tide meets the stream from a large river.

"The estuary is where various fish and birds and everything live in that 'perfect' climate. It's kind of the feeling of the ocean rushing in and the river rushing out. And then this mixing going on.

"I feel like I'm trying to make visible where the path of the water is, because when you look at it, you just see the surface of the water. You don't know what's going on under it, so I'm fascinated with that."

All of her art on display at the Station, with only one exception, is done on Mylar, a semi-transparent plastic, using oil sticks.

"I like the transparency," said Gibson. "Sometimes I have used layers of Mylar over top of layers of Mylar. I like that it comes in a roll, so you can choose your sizes. You can make it three inches or... 30 feet. And it's archival.

"When you start working on Mylar, it's nice and smooth. I kind of like that because I can make my lines easier."

She works on her studio wall, rather than an easel, because of the size, and it won't 'stand up.'

"But you can store Mylar because you can roll it up. Which is good, because otherwise I would run out of spaces to work."

An artist and art educator, Gibson has been curator of exhibitions at the Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre since 1982. She is also co-founder, co-curator of Oxford County Art Project: Art in Public Spaces.

As an educator, she has taught many classes and workshops for adults and children in Woodstock, Ingersoll, London and Brantford and served as education officer for Woodstock Art Gallery. She taught for Thames Valley School Board and, in cooperation with the board and the Ontario Arts Council, has completed many creative artists-in-schools projects.

"I lived near water, I lived near Lake Erie for quite a long time, of course it wasn't an estuary, it was a little creek coming in and out. But when I did some research about estuaries, I did see shipwrecks, docks, piers, because everything happens in that area."

Her art includes garden images sometimes, but she said 'water keeps coming back.'

"Over the years I've returned to water images," said Gibson. "The studies or feelings of water. I think because it's so mysterious - I like mystery. I like you having you kind of looking through and wondering what's behind or what's underneath. Or 'what am I looking at?'"

Gibson last exhibited at The Station Arts Centre about 20 years ago, and that was photo-grids (photography in a grid form) of gardens, fields, trees, etc.

"I've had a number of shows at the Creative Arts Centre and a number of shows at the Woodstock Art Gallery."

Hours at the Station Arts Centre are 9-4 Monday-Friday, 9-2 Saturday, at 41 Bridge Street West, Tillsonburg. 



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