Tatamagouche sculptor evolves from dark period through colourful series

Energy. Flow. Lift. Movement.
Those are words that all would describe the creations in Sydney Blum’s Icarus-Colour-Space series, works that now feature a grid of gradient colour within colour spaces.
“Icarus-Colour-Space arose out of a time of constriction,” says the artist who has called Tatamagouche home for the past decade. “I was able to break through – on spiritual and emotional levels. The period before the series was a dark, brittle period and this series evolved from that. It was a commitment to myself and future works.”
Sydney has been working on the series since she moved to the North Shore. She settled in Tatamagouche in December 2009, from New York State, a move she says wasn’t intentional.
She had visited the area a number of times in the years prior, and had visited a realtor with the hopes of finding a farm in the area. At the time, Sydney was told to visit Blue Sea Beach and she’d fall in love.
“And I did.”
She had become friends with a number of local businesspeople, and was happy to hear the Grace Jollymore Joyce Arts Centre would be built in the near future.
“I was really looking for a place to land at the time.”
For Icarus-Colour-Space, Sydney used Icarus, from Greek mythology, as inspiration – Icarus escaping imprisonment by flying toward the sun.
Up until 2018, the pieces – which take about 250 hours each to create – featured a black or graphite grid within the colour spaces.
She uses paper chip board to create each piece, which she paints with acrylics, and affixes them together with wire. She mixes each colour until she gets the shade she’s happy with.
The wing-shaped pieces suggest a continuum of time and space, and viewers are often left feeling like they’re about to take off. Motion and the sensation are depicted by the pieces, and direction can be changed by a number of things – the way each piece is hung, turned, and even lit.
Sydney, who moved to the North Shore from New York State in December 2009, says the black or graphite grid was what was driving the contractions and the expansion of space.
“It was the overly to move the space, and in some ways it inspired me to form contractions,” she said.
With 13 pieces of the Icarus series done with the black grid, changing to the colour gradient has changed the dynamic of the pieces.
“It was a bit of a eureka moment for me,” said the artist, who has created a half-dozen pieces so far with the gradient.
“(The grid and colour pieces) work with and against each other, allowing me to maximize colour. With the distortion of the grid, I can create movement in the flat plain and maximize the movement when I move into the colours.”
While she’s still attached to some of the original pieces, Sydney admits the colour gradient is a different part, yet a continuation, of the process. She finds them more dynamic and vibrant.
When she starts out with a piece, Sydney never knows how it will turn out.
“So much can happen along the way. Sometimes I have to surrender to the piece itself. What it wants to do and what I want it to do are sometimes very different. Sometimes it’s a bit of a battle,” she said, admitting it takes more physical work the further along the piece gets.
Once formed, it’s still a bit of a struggle to have the piece hang right, and to find how she’s happy with lighting.
“It’s quite dynamic after it’s done, not just visually, but physically as well. The shadows are critical.”
Prior to the Icarus series, Sydney’s ‘Fuzzy Geometry’
also concentrated on dimensions, albeit in a more conceptual form.
“The doing of that work was so repetitive and so tight,” she said. “It was more interior focus – the eye moved into the space from layer to layer. Icarus is much freer and not encumbered in any way.”

To keep up-to-date on Sydney Blum and her artwork, follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/sydneyblum.art/.