Making peace with close quarters and familiar scenery has been a significant part of living through the past year for everyone, including Cobourg mixed media artist Barbara Buntin. Her paper collage artworks take on a new role in COVID times, offering spacious vistas for homebound eyes and hungry imaginations.
Barbara Buntin’s art is created in a two-part process: first, monotype printing on paper, and then cutting and juxtaposing the prints to create collage. As the loose and playful print-making meets the more design-oriented collage process, Barbara finds the intersection of the two inspiring. “I’ve arrived at something now where there’s an endless possibility for experimenting,” she says.
The results are often dreamlike landscapes, familiar shapes in uncanny textures. The image might be simply a meeting of line and colour, or perhaps it’s a fondly remembered place.
At her 2020 show at Port Hope’s Northumberland Arts Gallery, art buyers pointed out places they recognized in her work – places the artist has never visited. “Vicarious travel, I suppose, became inadvertently a touchstone for me, and for the people who were enjoying the pieces,” she says. “It was evoking something for them.”
Working spontaneously and intuitively, Barbara consciously leaves space for serendipitous connection to emerge. “If I stay focused on what moves me, interests me, what pulls me into the moment of making it, then those meanings and themes emerge on their own,” she says.
Inviting spaciousness seems a central quality not only of the process, but of the work itself. The Finnish have a word, sielunmaisema, meaning “soul landscape,” which refers to a beloved wild place that is carried in one’s heart. Perhaps these are the spaces found in Barbara Buntin’s creative collages.
What – or where – do you see?