My inspiration to develop this course came from the Surrealist art movement. At its height, Surrealism as a cultural movement in Europe became a way for artists and writers to express their shock and grief after the first World War. Surrealist painters would render mundane objects in exceptional realism, but by placing them in extraordinary and dreamlike settings these objects would become representations of how strange their lives really were.
Large scale catastrophes have a way of leaving the survivors forever changed, and for some, Surrealist paintings became an attempt to resolve the contradiction that living had become.
The last two years have found us living through a global catastrophe too, and in order to survive the Covid-19 pandemic the luckiest of us turned to art and nature to find joy or even distraction.
For me, Rosy Maple moths seem to embody that Surrealist spirit of contradiction as a method of survival, and an artful rendering of nature feels relevant for the current catastrophe we are in now.
Rosy Maple moths can be found across the more temperate regions of Eastern North America, and their brightly coloured wings and big wooly bodies make them seem otherworldly — features that make it hard to imagine what environment this moth could blend into! But the Rosy Maple’s contradictory looks are actually very intentional, having evolved intelligently to blend in not with sherbet or a candy shop or even a plant from another world, but quite seamlessly with the keys from its Red Maple tree host.
My hope for you is that by the end of this course you will feel inspired to expand beyond paper when creating handmade botanicals, helping you to attain a more refined level of realism and craft in your finished pieces. But I also hope that this course becomes an invitation: both to look at unfamiliar materials with a new curiosity, and to notice the fantastic in the otherwise familiar, just like the Surrealists.
Thank you from my heart, Kathryn
Kathryn Bondy Artist Statement
I am one of those people who says they’ve been an artist all their life. As a little kid, making art was a way for me to feel safe, to explore, and to connect with others who made me feel joyful and accepted. Making art has always been my way to transform, and nothing inspired me to create more than nature.
In all seasons I’d be outside as a kid wandering my neighbourhood: inventing potions with pinecones and rocks and flower petals, watching birds, or exploring hidden places in parks and along the river. I was enamoured with nature’s seasons: how life was sown and then would bloom, as it faded and then would re-emerge as if by magic.
That wonder I felt as a kid has stayed with me, and I’ve since learned that as much as nature is endlessly inspiring to me, it’s something that a lot of other people feel connected to. Nature might be the model for the botanical specimens I create, but those shared connections are my fuel.
This feeling of connection — how art and nature when composed together reveals a bond — runs like a rope through each piece I make. With every flower, butterfly, bee or fruit I make, I follow that rope, hand over hand. And with each piece I make, I learn a bit more about who we are and what matters most to us.