“Chasing” is to hammer a piece of metal in one direction, and “repoussé” is to push from another direction in order to create a three-dimensional representation. It is a technique I use to communicate how we impact the land.” – Michael Belmore
Recently the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) re-opened their doors to the public, a much welcomed move after a season of closures for art institutions and galleries. Just in time for their opening, the NGC’s Gallery magazine featured a Q&A with artist Michael Belmore on his work, Lost Bridal Veil Falls, on permanent display in the Michael and Sonja Koerner Family Atrium. The location, like an inner sanctum, is a contemplative space for the work, with a reflecting pool and natural light, along with the auditory element of Janet Cardiff’s Forty-Part Motet sound installation reverberating in the space from the adjacent Rideau Chapel.
Constructed entirely of copper and suspended from the wall, the piece feels at home in the 2017 rehanging and renaming of the Canadian and Indigenous Collections galleries. With the iconic works of the Group of Seven, Emily Carr and Les Automatistes in the surrounding rooms Lost Bridal Veil Falls provides a formidable Anishinaabe presence.
In the interview Belmore speaks of the importance of copper from both an Anishinaabe perspective as well as its global importance as a resource commodity. Belmore also speaks to his rigorous process in the creation of his copper works, the technique of chasing and repoussé that becomes a gestural metaphor for how we “modify and intervene, make a mark or deliver a blow” on the land we inhabit.
What I do is imprint the landscape on the material – the lakes and rivers. I hammer the shoreline, and as I push down into a relief material, usually sand, that action pushes up the land. In effect, it creates the land, making the copper look topographical. The copper pieces are maps. They are accurate, but only as accurate as I can swing a hammer. I am always considering how we go about being caretakers of this land, this idea that we make mistakes, as I do with my hammer, and yet we continue forward.
Read the full interview here and if in Ottawa, take an opportunity to see this stunning work in situ.
View available works for purchase at KRG by Michael Belmore here.
IMAGE CREDIT: Leah Snyder