Sally Milne watercolours

REFLECTIONS is an art review feature that will appear at the beginning of each solo exhibit at the Gallery at the Playhouse. The Thousand Islands Playhouse will play host to the work of seven local artists this season. Sally Milne's "Moving Waters" and "Fruit Reflected" is the first solo exhibition at the Gallery at the Playhouse, running from May 30 until June 20. The dual titles of the show refer, respectively, to paintings of water, icebergs and rock formations inspired by her time on the east and west coasts of Canada; and to her still-life paintings of fruit on curved metal trays and in ceramic bowls. Ms. Milne's masterly handling of light in, on and through surfaces is apparent in all 16 works on display at the Gallery. The fruit in her still-life paintings - oranges, watermelons, bananas - as well as the water and ice in her landscapes, is filled with light, giving it a bright, stained-glass-like quality. "Things that reflect light and transparent things inspire me," she affirmed. Ms. Milne said she first studied art in Geneva, Switzerland and has been painting for 15 years. Her medium of choice, watercolour, is well-suited to her treatment of natural forms as fundamentally fluid and subject to change. Water is, by definition, fluid. Icebergs, though they momentarily appear mountainous and solid, ultimately melt into fantasic shapes in the sun. Even rocks, washed for years by water, erode and change.

Although her rendering of the icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland occasionally takes on a hard, cubist style (such as in "Ice Contours") it ultimately delights in their ephemeral nature. In "Ice on Parade", the floating mountain of ice is seen softening in the sun, it's surface taking on shapes that suggest a woman's face: chin, cheekbones, lips, nose and brow, but a hole where the eye should be. Just as in "Persistence of Memory" Salvador Dali melts human faces and landscapes to suggest the mutability of all things- even rock, which changes shape in time - so Ms. Milne's fantasic, anthropomorphic ice-scapes remind us nothing lasts in one form for very long. The "Fruit Reflected" series, though it deals with different subject matter, nonetheless takes fluidity, mutablitily and distortion for it's themes. In "Shimmering Shapes: Watermelon on a Metal Tray I and II", the slice of watermelon is presented in a characteristically clean, bright, realistic style, then distorted in the reflective tray on which it sits into abstract pools of colour. This motif carries over into her works depicting water rushing over rocks, such as "Coastal Waters, Newfoundand". The water, swirling in concentric curls of indigo, green and white, is a stunning literal demonstration of fluidity. The shapes of the coastal rocks, meanwhile - meticulous realism softened by a painterly feel for shape and colour - echo the water in a way that demonstrates how similar rock and water are, when you get right down to it: years of rushing water have shaped the rocks in the water's own image. The rock, like the water, shifts and changes over time.

Ms Milne said of this non-traditional still-life series: "I enjoy working with things people will recognize at first glance, then bringing in a new aspect through the distorted reflection of the tray...It's a non-traditional approach to a familiar subject." The green and white zebra pattern of the watermelon's skin becomes a smeared marble; the luminous flesh is refracted into a dazzling pink streak by the curved mirror plate. The artist captures the flow of light through the fruit and off the tray, using the mirror to mix realist and abstract treatments in the same frame. By allowing light and it's reflection free play in her work, Ms. Milne helps us see the fruit as she sees it: "when I paint something," she said, "I forget what it is. It becomes a collection of shapes and colours like a dozen abstract paintings." And at the same time, she shows us - joyfully, without the slime, waste or sadness of rotten bananas - that all things tangible are essentially "Moving Waters".

The Gananoque Reporter, June 4, 2003

Sally Milne - Glass Inspir