Tuesday 18th October: I met the artist Catherine Farish at her gallery Simon Blais www.galeriesimonblais.com. We were given a wonderful potted history of Quebec and it’s modern art movements by Paul Bradley, one of the gallery team, who showed us around the gallery. Galerie Simon Blais was founded in 1989 and initially specialized in works on paper and contemporary abstract prints. Today, the gallery represents both emerging and established artists working in diverse media such as painting, drawing, sculpture, prints and photography. Historical paintings and sculptures are also a special interest for the gallery, with a focus on leading Québec and Canadian artists such as Riopelle, Ferron, Letendre, McEwen and Daudelin. Catherine has been represented by the gallery for some years.

Henny, Catherine and Paul with a Edmund Alleyn painting at Simon Blais Gallery, Montreal

Before the trip we had researched a number of artists working in Montreal and Catherine Farish is one of the artists I was most looking forward to meeting. It was therefore a key meeting. We continued our discussions over lunch. She was very enthusiastic about the project and seems keen to be involved.

I had a further meeting at Atelier Cirulaire with the director Larry Silberman. We had initially found Catherine’s work on Atelier Cirulaire’s website and contacted Larry who had instantly replied with enthusiasm and help. Catherine came with me to meet Larry. She had been one the original artists to set up http://www.ateliercirculaire.org/in 1982, an artist run printmaking studio and gallery.

In May 2014, the Gallery, along with five other galleries (OPTICAle Centre ClarkDazibaoDiagonale and Occurrence), came together to form the De Gaspe Complex, a new major artistic centre in the Mile-End district of Montreal. Larry explained the extraordinary survival of the De Gaspe studio block and other artists’ studios and artist run galleries in the area. When they came under threat from developers’ the Ministry of Culture and Communications of Quebec and the City of Montreal stepped in to safeguard them. Larry and Catherine showed me around the wonderful print studios and the current exhibition “Et si elle était retournée à la mer sera” by http://nadinebariteau.com/ which is a beautiful and poignant print installation and film about the death of her mother.

Larry Silberman and Catherine Farish at ‘Et si elle était retournée à la mer sera’.

We further discussed the possibilities of international exchange projects and links that could be made between Atelier Circulaire print studio and print studios in Britain. I have arranged a studio visit with Catherine for Thursday. It seems that we may have found our Canadian artist. Tomorrow brings visits to MAI http://m-a-i.qc.ca/en/and the Darling Foundry http://www.fonderiedarling.org followed by the opening of the Montreal Biennale at MAC (The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal) http://www.macm.org/en/expositions/la-biennale-de-montreal-2016

Print studio at Atelier Circulaire


Monday 17th October I am finally on my way to Montreal to meet artists and visit galleries for Cicatrix. I should arrive at the flat I am staying in Mile End, Montreal this evening. The area is reputed to be like Hackney used to be, full of artists studios occupying industrial spaces. In fact the name Mile End was inspired by the Mile End in London. Since the 1980s Mile End has been known  as a creative hub, home to artists, musicians, writers, and filmmakers. It was formally Montreal’s garment district. I can’t wait to see it.