Source: The Richmond Review [B.C.] , Date July 8, 2004, Article by Tia Abell


At work and at play

Art work is a process of creation for Vancouver Sculptor


Artworks are like destinations – often the journey or the process of creation is as meaningful as the final piece itself. 


This is especially true for the work of Vancouver artist Jason Fitzpatrick.


His work entitled Stanley, a 10 foot cedar beam wrapped in beeswax-soaked cotton, for example, may inspire a viewer to think about construction, materials and mankind’s interaction with {and use of) nature.


But that’s only part of the story.


One of several artists in the Richmond Art Gallery’s new exhibit Work and Play, which opens tomorrow, Fitzpatrick’s art also reflects a personal process of art creation through the making of tools – and the experience of using them (captured in photographs).


“For a lot of my work, I usually utilized galleries as a place to do something,” says Fitzpatrick, 33, during a phone interview.


“With the Richmond Art Gallery exhibit the approach is more like a museum.  These are artefacts, artefacts for works based around my body;  what I can lift, how I move in the world.  It’s an attempt to understand my existence and life in Canada in a post-colonial world.”


So to carve  Stanley, he made an adze – a metal carving tool representing a cross between First Nations and European boat-building tools.


The choice of this tool refers to the beam’s origins as a fallen cedar tree in Stanley Park, as well as to the fact the area was once a home to First Nations people.  The adze was also the chosen tool of famed carver Bill Reid and leaves marks like an artist signature, emphasizing the creative process.


“For me the piece is about understanding the origins of carvers, of understanding the methodology of carving in the Native American culture,” Fitzpatrick says.  “My background is European, so this is about understanding how the two worlds collide, as a post-colonial take on carving.


Originally from Saint John, N.B., Fitzpatrick has just completed his Masters of Fine Arts at the University of Windsor.  His thesis topic, phenomenology and sculpture, relates to his work at the  Richmond Art Gallery.


“Basically it’s the train of thought that everything is interconnected – that you can’t separate the intellect from the physical.  We’ve made these compartments and then we start to believe these compartments are real – but they’re not.”


Tools, process and the completed work are intertwined and represent the interaction of the mind with the physical world, he says.  


And art can get physical.  Fitzpatrick took two years to carve Stanley down to size he could lift.  Early on he learned had to create a routine that wouldn’t exhaust him, as well as for his 10 yard long drawing, Richard II, done with homemade graphite crayons he cooked up using a Renaissance recipe (a possible play on the Renaissance’s renown as the origins of perspective in art).  Here, crayons are used like tools, marking the paper repeatedly like an adze marking wood.


“I’m interested in drawing as a traditional art.  As a trained figurative painter, I wanted to reduce drawing to its primal elements.  To crayon and paper.  I’m trying to bring drawing back to its bare essentials and deal with those restrictions.”


Limits in turn inspire more creativity, he says.


“(Richard II) took me a year to make.  It’s about the capacity of my physicality.  I’m interested in the  problems of creativity and creating parameters to do with the problems of creativity.  But the more restrictive I am to myself, the more my creativity is challenged and springs out.  That’s why I use my body a lot in my art – it’s all connected.”


Work and Play runs until August the 29th.  The opening reception is tonight (Thursday) from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 pm.