A passion for white of all shades finds full fruition in a flurry of frescos, mosaics and prints in Oak Bay artist Marie-Andrée Allison’s show at the Martin Batchelor Gallery this month.
Her love of the non-colour harkens back to her childhood, when nights walking home in the dark could have been cold and foreboding, instead she enjoyed the glint of streetlights reflecting on snow. Those memories, and years of work and study parlay into Bianco, Focus on Whites in Ancient and Contemporary Media.
Allison received formal art education at Les Beaux Arts of Montreal from 1971 to 1975. In 1976 she moved to B.C. to study and work in various schools, and with both Canadian and international artists.
Between 1984 and 1992 she studied Byzantine Iconography and Fresco Bueno. She has installed massive icons, mosaics and frescoes for a local Russian Orthodox Church. She’s taught classes for children and adults.
“I’m thankful to the people who influence me and help me carry on through the years, my family, my teachers,” she says. “I study all the time, that’s the focus of my life, study and play. I’m lucky.”
Since 2004, her studies have taken her to Europe for her extensive knowledge of Byzantine Iconography and to study the ancient art of mosaic. In the last six years she completed certificates as a Master Mosaicist in Venice, as well as Byzantine Mural Mosaic, Floor Mosaic and Micro Mosaic at La Scuala Arte del Mosaico in Ravenna. She has also been certified in Mosaic Restoration.
This show features her lifelong love of whites and more than a decade in creating art with the various shades.
“Light reflecting on the snow, there’s something comforting about it. Snow makes me happy,” she says. “Working with different shades of white, it takes you more within … a form of meditation.”
Allison’s work has shown in various galleries in Canada and the U.S. and is part of both public and private collections across both North America and Europe. A collection of her artwork is available for sale or rent through the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
Among her favourite works in the Batchelor Gallery showcase will be a dress mosaic, a creation based on a work by her clothing designer daughter Emmanuelle Hertel. Allison will wear a dress by Hertel during the opening of the event that will showcase her mosaic based on that design.
“I think that’s my favourite right now, because it’s a collaboration,” Allison says.
Bianco, Focus on Whites in Ancient and Contemporary Media shows at Martin Batchelor Gallery until June 30.
Visit marie andreeallisonfine artstudio.com to learn more about the artist.