Enriched Bread Artists reopens to the public for the first time during the pandemic

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One of the biggest arts events of the year in Ottawa is the Enriched Bread Artists Open Studio, where you can meet the artists and see their workspaces. It is back this year and will take place on October 23-24 and October 30-31 (reserve a free ticket at enrichibreadartists.com).

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Here is more information on three of the participating artists and their work.

Visual artist Gayle Kells was a mature student at the University of Ottawa when she discovered the city’s arts hub in a former bread factory on Gladstone Avenue.

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“I remember visiting the open house and it was such a busy place,” she recalls in an interview. “At that time you couldn’t find a place to walk, that’s how busy it was. It was a very exciting place with a lot of dynamic people doing innovative things – an exciting place for a young emerging artist.

Gayle Kells of Enriched Bread Artists.  (Credit: Errol McGihon)
Gayle Kells of Enriched Bread Artists. (Credit: Errol McGihon) jpg

For three decades, the building has housed the Enriched Bread Artists collective, providing affordable workplaces for artists, with around 20 studios and a central gallery. For nearly 27 of those years, Kells made it the seat of his artistic practice.

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She is one of the longest-standing people there, producing a wide variety of works ranging from large figurative paintings of nude women (once deemed too controversial to be bought by the city) to multimedia installations that reflect her Lebanese heritage. . She is represented by the Sivarulrasa gallery in Almonte.

During the early stages of the pandemic last year, when the studio was closed, Kells found herself enjoying the outdoors, hiking nature trails near her home and taking photos on her cell phone. Back in the studio, she was inspired by these photos.

“I’m not a realistic painter, so for me painting a branch, you’d never know it was a branch,” Kells said, “it’s just the way things go. I’m very intuitive. I always try these landscapes in connection with the outdoors, but I always end up nosing around. ”

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A work by artist Kristina Corre was recently featured on a film poster that was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival.
A work by artist Kristina Corre was recently featured on a film poster that was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival. Photo by Julie Oliver /Postmedia

One of the more recent Enriched Bread artists is Kristina Corre, who applied for a space last summer, in part because the building is within walking distance of her home.

“As an artist in Ottawa, I have always attended open houses as a source of inspiration and as someone who appreciates art,” said Corre, who is an architect by training.

Her artistic practice evolved to focus on collage, cutout and collage of magazine images. It all started about five years ago when she responded to an ad on Kijiji featuring a stack of National Geographic magazines.

The 36-year-old then took on the challenge of creating and posting a collage on Instagram for 100 consecutive days, a project that gained momentum and led to exhibitions in commercial galleries. Before the pandemic, she also led collage workshops.

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While collage is often seen as an activity for children, for Corre it has become his primary form of artistic expression. She finds the process meditative and the pieces are created in moments of reflection.

“It’s my way of being thoughtful and going slowly and quietly in a peaceful way,” she said, noting as she was cutting the footage by hand. “I enjoy the analog process a lot more than clicking on a computer. ”

Born in the Philippines, Corre came to Canada with her family at the age of four and grew up in the Toronto area. His recent work explores his Filipino roots.

“With the collage, I can tap into all the rich images and patterns in Filipino arts and culture, which is really cool,” she said. The work has found a popular audience – the Filipino-inspired pieces she showed in a group show at Studio Sixty Six a few years ago have been sold, leading to further collaborations and commissions.

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As for the future, Corre wants to make bigger parts. “Right now, because I use magazine images, the scale of my work is small and quite limited, but I think digitizing the images I find and printing them large will be an exciting new thing. ”

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Sayward Johnson of Enriched Bread Artists.  (Credit: Errol McGihon)
Sayward Johnson of Enriched Bread Artists. (Credit: Errol McGihon) jpg

Sayward Johnson is another artist who discovered Enriched Bread at the annual Open Studio event. At the time, about seven years ago, Johnson was an art school graduate and stay-at-home mom who had recently returned to Ottawa with her husband.

“I was blown away by the freshness,” she recalls. “When you work in a basement for a few years and stay home with a kid, you’re sort of starving for any company with artists. It was a big part of the attraction for me.

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Johnson describes herself as a textile artist who works with metal, often applying textile techniques such as crochet or weaving to metallic materials. Copper wire is a favorite.

“I love playing on the juxtaposition of hard-soft materials and metallic fibers that you might not think at first glance have to work together,” she said.

Without access to her studio during the pandemic, Johnson worked from her home in Chelsea on small projects such as hand-knitted copper sculptures. She also let herself be entertained with her art.

“I tried to let myself be free to do whatever inspired me because the whole year was such a strange time, dealing with closures, curfews and school closures and not being able to see the family members, ”she said. “It was cathartic work. It made me feel free.

She showed some of this work at this year’s Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, her first post-pandemic public art event, and was thrilled to win the Best of Craft and Design award.

“It was a really nice surprise, considering what it has been like last year,” she said.

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