Volume 12 Week 5

Thursday, Dec. 13


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Updated March 7

Posted Dec. 16


Phil McNeely
Posted Dec. 45 2

Diane Smith

Diane Smith has been an artist, in spirit, all her life. Raised in Northern Ontario, she has always loved to draw the human figure: realistically in the early years and more creatively as an adult.

After working for eight years as a computer specialist with the federal civil service, Diane took up her passion when she left to stay home and raise her children. She has since studied at the Ottawa School of Art, the National Gallery and the Visual Arts Department at the University of Ottawa.

In 2000, Diane left her university studies when she was given the opportunity to do a one-year sculpture apprenticeship with renowned local sculptor Bruce Garner. It was there that she discovered her love of sculpting and learned many skills including bronze casting, welding and hammer forming sheet bronze and copper.

She has since been working in her studio, where she continues to expand her preferred media to include plaster, found objects, fabric, and common building materials.

Sculpture has also given Diane the opportunity to learn more about her deep interest of understanding “ourselves and our position in the world, by examining how and where we meet the world”.

“How does one move out of one’s self to relate to the world, and what does the nature of that relating reveal about the self?”

She believes that people meet in the space between them, in the space that separates them. While pursuing this knowledge, she has been investigating an implied separateness and the fact that we have boundaries that define our limits.

“If boundaries exist, they can be transgressed,” explains Smith.

Her present body of work focuses on our relationship to the material world and the qualities of the boundaries of our being.

She has been guided by her most vivid memory: that of the great Canadian prairies; that of standing on solid earth with her head in an endless blue sky; her body between earth and sky. She felt both grounded to the world and roaming free of it.

“Since we are grounded to the world as physical bodies, the vehicle through which we move, I have been using the form and contour of the body as a template for my enquiry," says Smith. :"Working in this manner has engendered associations to the multi-layered experience of meeting the world, an experience which is physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual.”

In recent works, such as in the "Door” series, the bodies carved into the doors, in bas relief, become the container whose edges or boundaries separate the interior from exterior. These bodies have cavities, gaps and openings that allow for movement between interior and exterior spaces.

Diane uses found doors; themselves once objects that existed in that liminal space of the threshold. The life size "Bronze figure" is about being grounded to the material world, and holding onto it even though we are fragile, damaged, and fragmented. The shell form of the body opens up to exterior space - what we think of as being contained within is actually connected to space outside of our selves, physically as well as spiritually, intellectually and emotionally.

In the work entitled “Cosmos”, the body is itself contained in the space, the liminal space of the door. It feels both constrained and infinitely deep.

Playing with various materials allows Diane to examine the tangible properties and conditions of edges and surfaces that mark boundaries, disruptions, gaps and the spaces between things, and, the relationships between interior and exterior spaces. This is an essential part of the process by which her sculptures and drawings evolve, as this intuitive aspect has always played a significant part in the transformation of her works.

Smith has expanded her repertoire to include non-traditional materials and found objects has made this interesting process that much richer.

More recently, Diane has returned to drawing the figure, the focus still being the basics of ground, figure and sky, and the relationship between them.

Having greatly enjoyed the recent exhibition of Jean Paul Lemieux at the National Gallery, her untitled collages of graphite and soft blue washes on paper were unconsciously influenced by Lemieux’s works, in so far as the placement of the individual within the space is concerned.

Sharing her knowledge of and love for drawing is a very important part of Diane’s life as an artist. An enthusiastic teacher of children’s and adult courses, she has taught in her home, in schools, and at the local Visual Arts Center, Orléans.

Diane was one of the five founding committee members from Arteast that lobbied for the creation of the Visual Arts Center, Orleans and continues volunteer her time, presently sitting on the East End Galleries Advisory Committee.

Diane has completed several drawing and sculpture commissions in her artistic career. Most notable are: the sculpture of sports figures for the Orleans Recreation Complex for the former City of Gloucester; the Lehi Exemplary Achievement Award for Boy Scouts Canada; and the James McGown Memorial Trophy for the Canadian Canoe Association.

Diane’s drawings and sculptures have been continually accepted in various juried exhibitions and she has exhibited throughout the Ottawa area since the early 1990’s, including the exhibition presently being shown at the Cumberland Gallery. Her works are held in public and private collections throughout Canada.

In January 2006, Diane will have a curated solo exhibition at the Centre d’exposition Art-Image, in Gatineau, P.Q. Diane can be contacted at (613) 830-2391 or by e-mail at

View examples of Diane Smith's work

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