18 July 2016

The Cardboard Queen

I'm sometimes known as the Puppet Lady around these parts, but these days perhaps a better name for me would be the Cardboard Queen. I love everything about creating with cardboard: its versatility, its low-art panache, its total free-ness and, of course, repurposing what is essentially garbage into something magical. 


June once again found me building Boxtopia - a creative cardboard kingdom for kids - with my dream team of artist friends at Skeleton Park Arts Festival in Kingston. I’ve been doing these installations for a number of years and it has become a real staple of the festival. This year our theme was "Rock ‘n’ Roll Arcade." Leave it to my awesome crew of cardboard collaborators to come up with such a rad idea. 

Boxtopia was a pretty happening place! There was a jam space...


A sweet DJ booth...


Plenty of games...


A Bowie-inspired hair salon...


And, of course, a place to get a tasty cardboard snack.


Most of our creations were made during Small Pond’s inaugural Cardboard Camp in the spring. I really enjoy working with other creators in the same medium, because we all have our own style, and I always learn a ton from collaborating with these folks. Plus, they are just so much fun to be around!

L to R: Krista Dalby, Chrissy Poitras, Kevin Merritt, Holly Gilmour, Nella Casson


As much as I love working large-scale, much can be said for working small. Last winter I had a hankering for a some artistic experimentation, and wound up creating this boxboard sculpture of Canadian poet Al Purdy. 



A few months later I decided that I should try entering it in a juried art show, Art in the County, which was a first for me. I was really happy when it was accepted into the show, and somewhat incredulous when I received a juror's award. Then I learned that the sculpture sold - another first. I don't know if I'll do any more work like this, but I'm feeling the gentle nudge of the universe reminding me that as an artist I should always be experimenting and reaching beyond my comfort zone. Good things happen there!



Most recently, I worked with Fixt Point Theatre this summer, designing their set for the theatre production of Tale of a Town – Prince Edward County, a play that I co-created with director Katie Swift and the artistic team. 

The Tale of a Town - Prince Edward County, featuring Chelsea Riesz, Kelsey Dann, and Nick Di Gaetano.
Photo by Johnny C. Lam
Naturally, I decided to make the set and many props out of my favourite material – cardboard! I was nursing an injured shoulder at the time of building the set, but thankfully my super-talented sister Caitlin was visiting at the time with her wife Helena, and the two of them helped make it happen. I don't know how I would have done it without them!

Me looking quite at home amongst scads of cardboard.
Photo by Johnny C. Lam
My goal with the set was to make the cardboard look as cardboardy as possible, ripping it and distressing it to show off its beautiful textures. I was really pleased with the result. I loved working in such a large scale, and doing something longer-lasting than my usual installations. I’m now nurturing some big dreams for large-scale projects… stay tuned!

Thanks for reading,
Krista Dalby, Cardboard Queen

26 May 2016

Season 7 Silobration

The May long weekend marks the official start of a new season of Small Pond Arts and our festive adventures, and each year we kick it off with a party which we're now calling our "Silobration." Everyone is invited to partake in potluck delights, games, and of course, the main event: the raising of the new silo banner.

Helping hands.

As usual, two people work inside the silo, hoisting the banner by pulling the ropes, while a crew outside makes sure nothing gets tangled and that the banner reaches the desired height. I've always been on the inside, so I'm one of the last people at the party that gets to see the new banner, but I enjoy climbing out of the silo and running around the foliage to get my first look.

Triskelion.

Krista's banner idea this year was an ancient design called a triskelion, first used in Malta (4400-3600 BC) which has many different (and some contradictory) meanings and symbolism, and has been adopted by many cultures all over the world, and designs vary greatly. For our purpose as a banner design, the meaning Krista chose to focus on is the three arms symbolizing the past, present, and future (which is how the Ingush people of Russia use it).

Of course, I have been familiar with two particular uses of triskelions for most of my life:



I'll wager fifteen quatloos that nobody is surprised by this admission.

But speaking of television, and invoking the past, I took the design for ABC's Sunday Night Movie and adapted it as a fun graphic for our Season 7 launch.


And speaking of adapting 1970s-era graphics, I recently created a series of 77 "trading cards" based on the hugely successful Topps series of Star Wars cards. These only exist digitally on our blog (and have no "backs"), but feel free to print them out...if you dare. They're a fun way to look back on our previous six seasons and many amazing people are featured.

The wide shot.

After a pretty cool start to the spring, we were happy to have perfect weather for this year's Silobration: not hot, but not chilly; slightly breezy, but not windy; not cloudy; and barely buggy. Just looking at this picture makes me feel warm and serene.

Cookies!

Among the tasty potluck offerings were these delicious cookies made by Karlyn Madrid of Karlyn's Cookies. There were also two varieties of boozy root beer, which required much taste-testing to reveal which was superior.

Party time.

People came from far and wide to enjoy the festivities, share some great food, and play some kubb (not pictured). It was, as always, a banner day.

A new friend.

Meanwhile, we've noticed a new species of bird hanging around our back field. It's possible we've had Eastern Meadowlarks for a while, because their song is familiar (but with so many mimics, who can be sure?), but this is the first year we've actually spotted one. They're about the size of a robin and so deeply, beautifully yellow on their front side. We've spotted this one in the back for a few weeks, now, likely nesting in the grass nearby, but getting a good photo is tricky.

Beautiful brief blossoms.

The magnolia tree that Elizabeth and Tom planted as part of their wedding ceremony held at Small Pond last September came into full bloom just a few weeks before our Silobration...

So pink!

...as did these perennial tulips at the side of our house...

So fragrant!

...but our lilacs were right on schedule, ensuring the weekend was not only pretty, but permeating the landscape with one of my favourite aromas. If only they lasted all summer...

Standing by...

Having looked at the past via my weird 1970s tributes and the recently-bloomed flowers, the present via a new silo banner and the enjoyment of friends and wildlife hanging around Small Pond, we now look to the future and the bounty in store that will come from our garden for us to share and enjoy in the coming months...

Mere babies...for now.

...and then there are the recently-planted sunflowers which will grow tall, strong, and golden, attracting a nice variety of birds and bugs...and my camera lens.



22 May 2016

Small Pond Trading Cards, Part 4

This is the last (and largest) installment of the Small Pond "trading cards" we're using as a vehicle to celebrate our Sixth Anniversary as well as the commencement of our Seventh Season. Enjoy!