Special to the Record
DENMAN ISLAND — For her opening on the evening of Aug. 9, Denman Island artist and ceramist Bronwyn Simons presented her work to date on her year-long oeuvre, The 108 Buddhas Project.
She began in March of this year and will conclude the work in March 2013. This will be the first public exhibit of the project which, at its heart, is simply the creation of 108 images of the Buddha.
Of the 108 replicas, 54 will be the result of small scale slipcast porcelain sculptures just under a foot tall. They will be created from a single original clay sculpture, comparable to a limited edition print, but each will be unique in its glaze and type of firing.
The remainder of the pieces will include tiles, ceramic wall plaques, mixed media paintings, and one-of-a-kind porcelain sculptures wood fired in Gordon Hutchens’ Anagama kiln last spring. Thirty to 40 pieces have been completed for the exhibit.
Each finished piece is clearly important to the artist, but the creative process is equally meaningful to her: the studio work, the introspection integral to creating devotional art, and the challenge of “going public” to the degree to which she has.
She is documenting her year-long progress through photos, videos, and online journal entries; the project has a website (www.108buddhasproject.com) and will be recorded as a (self-published) book.
Although half of the pieces in the project will complete the conventional cycle of a work of art — created, exhibited, and sold into private collections — the slipcast porcelain sculptures will follow a different path.
The artist is asking buyers to continue the life of the artwork after it leaves her hands by contributing photos or a story about the piece in its new home. Just as the concepts of impermanence and flow are intrinsic to Buddhist thought, so was the act of letting go, integral to the inception of this project.
And as the artist lets go of her creations, buyers are asked to also consider letting go of their adopted Buddhas and placing them out in the world where they may take the Buddhist message of inspiration, beauty, and peace to others: under a tree in the forest, for example, or in a public space where they may bring hope or healing.
Buyers will take a message as well as a sculpture.
The show runs at the Denman Island Arts Centre until Aug. 21.