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Artist captures the shadows that intrigue

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While some artists are interested in the big picture, Canadian artist Karen Phillips Curran is more interested in the architectural minutiae.

Ms Curran lives in Ontario and first came to Bermuda looking for somewhere warm to paint. She has now been coming here for 25 years, sometimes twice a year. Her latest exhibit, Island of My Eye, is a retrospective of her work on the Island.

“I love the winter light here,” she said. “My work focuses on architectural details of doors and windows, shutters and gates. I also love the colours. Twenty-five years ago, when I first came, Bermuda architecture wasn’t as colourful as it is now. There were a lot more light pastel houses. It is much more of a riot of colour these days. I enjoy painting things like the lovely rich green shutters and the shadows that exist from the foliage. Generally, I don’t have anything to do with the actual foliage, it is just the shadows that intrigue me.”

Ms Curran has worked painting stage sets for the National Arts Centre in Ottawa since 1996.

“My stage work started when I was working on a mural in a shopping centre,” she said. “I was part of a team doing nothing exciting. I had the job of painting 480 linear feet of these little window boxes. They were to look like little geraniums and faux wood-grained window boxes. They were painted on a wall near the car park.”

One day the head scenic artist from the theatre noticed her standing on a scaffold painting. He invited her to come down to the theatre and learn about theatrical painting. When she returns to Canada in the spring, she will be working on the set of King Lear at the Stratford Festival. It will have a fairly large set with a large wood-grained floor.

“In Bermuda, I will be doing a workshop teaching techniques that are popular, but often horribly done,” she said. “Techniques include sponging, colour washing, wood graining and gilding. All of those are theatre techniques that have been brought into the home. Because I am always doing them in the theatre I thought well, bring me anything and a piece of furniture, frame or an item you want faux finished. Do you want it crackled, wood grained or colour washed? We can talk about that. We can look at the possibilities.”

The exhibit runs March 23 through April 10 at the Bermuda Society of Arts.

Ms Curran will be teaching a workshop on faux finishing techniques at the BSoA on March 31 and April 1 from 10am to 4pm. The workshop is $195 for BSoA members and $225 for non-members.

For more information contact the BSoA: 292-3824 or bsoa[AT]ibl.bm .

Palm shade and green shutter by Karen Phillips Curran.
Columns and Shade by Karen Phillips Curran.
Hot Green Palm Shade by Karen Phillips Curran.
An architectural detail on the Bank of Butterfield on Front Street by Karen Phillips Curran.
Dappled Shutter Shade by Karen Phillips Curran.

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Published March 14, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 14, 2012 at 8:51 am)

Artist captures the shadows that intrigue

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