Sacred Symbol

A mixed-media group exhibition featuring
Renée Forrestall, Nick Webb, Marla Benton, Teresa Bergen, Mary Jane Lundy, Brad Hall

Curated by Regina Coupar, AST Exhibitions Director
Curatorial Essay (pdf)

November 19, 2010, to February 11, 2011
Panel discussion on symbols and the sacred Tuesday, January 25, 2011, at 7 pm

 Collaborative Process: Renée Forrestall and Nick Webb



Renée Forrestall

Bio Renee Forrestall was born in Fredericton, NB and moved to Nova Scotia as a young child. She received her BFA and BAEd from NSCAD University. She has been an exhibiting artist and educator for over 20 years. Forrestall is currently teaching anatomy at NSCAD University. She studied forensic art in the U.S. and has held residencies at Dalhousie Medical School and the Queen Elizabeth Health Sciences Centre in Halifax. She has received provincial scholarships and grants and her work is in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and numerous corporate and private collections. Forrestall has shown extensively in the Maritimes and completed large-scale public commissions. Her art interests include drawing and figurative painting in oil and egg tempera. Her primary love is icon painting and liturgical art. Residing in Halifax with her husband Nick Webb, Forrestall has worked collaboratively on exhibitions and commissions including many church-related projects and blends her painting skills with Webb’s architectural and craft interests.

Artist Statement My passion has always been in figurative art and in ancient painting practices. This interest gives me a sense of connection to those who described their world through paint many years ago. Perhaps this makes me nostalgic, but the more I explore old materials and techniques, the more I understand what we have lost.


Nick Webb

Bio Nick Webb has taught at NSCAD University since 1981. For fifteen years, he was Chair of the Art Education Division, and Director of the MA program. He is currently a professor in the Division of Historical and Critical Studies. Trained in ceramics at Westhill College, in England, he completed his MA at the City of Birmingham Polytechnic, U.K. and his PhD at the Pennsylvania State University. For the last six years, he was engaged in a consultancy for design education with the Department of Education in Trinidad and Tobago. He now works primarily in wood and clay and has a particular interest in architectural contexts and mixed media constructions. He collaborates with his wife, Renee Forrestall, on artworks that combine her painting with his wood and ceramic work.

Artist Statement My interest has always been in the craft and design aspects of the art-making process. But I also know that virtuosity, even if I had it, can actually inhibit creative practice. And so I strive to balance skills with the expression of ideas. My interest in spiritual practices, whether institutionalized or private comes from the ways in which we make things special. For example, a shrine or a chapel provides a physical opportunity for protecting belief.


Collaborative Process: Marla Benton/ Teresa Bergen/ Mary Jane Lundy



About the Process:

Three artists, three masterminds in creating a life-size clay creation that incorporates Teresa’s metamorphosis of nature to human; Marla’s knowledge of scale and the creating of a garden atmosphere of bugs, plants, and flowers on the tree; and Mary Jane’s knowledge of water fountains and the metamorphosis of tree roots into fish. Together, they have created a life-size apple blossom tree, made from glazed sculpture red earthenware clay, with the mythical theme of Eve, an evolution of her birthing with nature sprouting everywhere, from the bottom large fish that morph from the roots, to Eve morphing from a branch. The tree hosts a nest that draws water from the root base, on which you'll hear the sound of water. The tree is divided into three parts, and the branches are also attached separately with built-in ridges to allow for easy assemblage.


Marla Benton

Bio Marla has been educated through Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, the Ontario College of Art and Design (BFA) and Nipissing University (BED). As an artist and teacher, she has worked in the Yukon, northern Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia. Through numerous and varied experiences, Marla has been exposed to many different material. However, she considers ceramics a perfect fit for her, as she loves to be practical and wild at the same time. At present she has begun planting her roots just outside of Mahone Bay in Nova Scotia. She came back to NS in May 2007 to settle her gypsy feet and find a place to call home.

Artist Statement My sculptural work is playful, both magical and mysterious. I love to engage the viewer with the scale and perspective of a piece. We understand scale because of an internal comparison of what is supposed to be big and what is supposed to be small. By changing the scale of an object, there tends to be an emotional reaction in some way or another. As I am a teacher as well as an artist, I am constantly reminded of a child’s perspective. Being able to see things less tainted and more precious allows my sense of the world to be more playful. I have always been a daydreamer and consumed with the thought that our world is a magical and mysterious place. With my perspective and concept of scale, I create my larger-than-life sculptures of traditionally gross things in nature: bugs, fungus and spiders. I try to imagine and create a way that these objects are magical and desirable to live with.

Teresa Bergen

Bio Teresa Bergen is a ceramic artist who creates exuberant one of a kind sculptures and teapots. She started her schooling at Langara College in Vancouver. After completing her BFA at NSCAD she moved to Dawson City Yukon for a term as the Klondike Institute for Art and Culture artist in residence and so loved the place that she stayed for another year to start her ceramic career. A broken down bus and kiln bricks scavenged from abandoned mining equipment provided everything necessary for a very rustic studio. Teresa has since returned to Chester, NS, where she pursues her craft in the luxury of a woodstove warmed hilltop studio.

Artist Statement Using my hands and some simple tools I love to take a lump of clay and work it into something dynamic and engaging. Through the use of strong color and bold patterns I try to express a hopeful sense of personal freedom and openness. With interactive elements, I want to involve the viewer in the narrative. I have been exploring themes of movement and performance in my recent work. Cranks pulleys and gears allow the viewer to participate in the actions of these ceramic characters. I am always on the lookout for strange, surprising or beautiful stories. Deriving inspiration from my own life, tales shared by family, friends, books and songs, I create work about the experiences and images that have left a strong impression or moved me.

To these ends, I find that clay presents an endless array of possibilities and challenges.

Mary Jane Lundy

Bio Mary Jane Lundy is resident of East Dover, Nova Scotia since 1985. She graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in the spring of 2003 with a BFA major in Ceramics. A clay sculptor, Mary Jane works with earthenware clay; she is inspired by the sea life found in the Maritime waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and the birds that inhabit its shorelines.

Artist Statement I am a clay sculptor/artist who is inspired by what inhabits on our land and in our sea. I have incorporated into my work forms inspired by the sea, such as tide pools, grottos and whirlpools, fish shacks. Most recently, my new bodies of ceramic work are in the form of water fountains. The decorations for these fountains are associated with the sea life and land life found in and around our Atlantic Ocean. Water gushing forth is a symbol of the life-force of Man and of all things. The gushing up and flowing back of the Fountain within its ceramic vessel completes a circle. My choice of using different sculptural forms from nature and manmade objects has allowed me to express my views on the eco-system by what inhabits in our sea and on our land with sense of humor and whimsicalness.


Brad Hall


Bio Potter, furniture builder, and sculptor of forged metals, Brad Hall has always worked with his hands. He writes, “Hot metal is like clay - it's pliable and has wonderful structure and motion already in it.” Brad’s sculptural commissions are the result of intuition, his sensitivity to the needs of his clients, and the space where the work will eventually be located. Transcending boundaries of fine art and fine craft, Brad creates liturgical and architectural artworks that blend the sacred with the secular. In recent years he has become interested in the collaborative process locally, but also participating in the EMMA International Collaboration program in Saskatchewan since 2006. A graduate of the Sheridan School of Art in Ontario, Brad has artworks in public and private collections throughout Nova Scotia, across Canada, and in several international locations (United States, Italy, Panama Great Britain). Brad presently lives and works in beautiful Annapolis Royal.

Artist Statement During my career I have experimented with a variety of mediums. Combining my experience in photography, pottery, and weaving with over twenty years of working with wood in the restoration of heritage buildings, I have found the transition to creating with metal both exciting and challenging. Working with a variety of metals and traditional blacksmithing techniques (forging, welding, banding and riveting), and combining these metals with stone and wood, allows me to create a design that combines art and function which is enduring while rooted in the past.