Mini-land purchase bestows title on Red Deer artist

Mini-land purchase bestows title on Red Deer artist

Inspires exhibit on display in Edmonton

A tiny English land investment is yielding big creative dividends for Red Deer artist Alysse Bowd.

Last year, Bowd paid something like $67 to own a five-foot-square piece of land on a cash-strapped Cumbrian estate. As a student who was studying for her masters in visual art at NSCAD University in Halifax, Bowd embraced the imaginative possibilities this online land purchase offered.

Although the local artist has never seen her 2.5-by-2.5-foot patch of north Anglia, she meditated on what it might mean to own a piece of the Hougan Manor estate. Her ceramic fancies can be seen in a new joint exhibit in Edmonton.

Technically, the minuscule land acquisition makes her a lady — so Bowd ran with this new identity. She created a porcelain crown-like headdress that she wears in a photo that was sent to Canada Post to be made into custom stamps.

Bowd explained (with tongue in cheek) that this was a “desperate attempt to legitimize a character I daydreamed into reality…

“Even though it’s a humorous obscure title,” she added, it allows her to explore the “artifice of identity in whatever costume or manner I want.”

Her Lady Alysse postage stamps can be seen in Mise en Scene, an exhibition that also features the works of Triniruth Bautista, a Filipino-Albertan artist, and Anne Drew Potter, a Californian ceramicist. The show opens Saturday in the Alberta Craft Council’s feature gallery, 10186-106 St.

Also in the display is a tiny ceramic fence Bowd created to delineate the exact borders of her British property.

There’s also a row of her 10-inch high porcelain thrones, decorated with gold lustre. Bowd considers these maquettes for thrones that she could someday create in full size.

Perhaps most impressively, there are 600 doll-house-sized tables and chairs that could presumably be used by tiny subjects. Bowd, who was first exposed to the “romance” of estate life while working as an au pere to an aristocratic family in Ireland, said it took her a month to make this minute “utilitarian” furniture, a few hours at a time.

But she enjoyed the meditative and tactile aspects of working on a repetitive, monotonous task. “When my hands know what they are doing, it allows my brain to keep contemplating.”

The interdisciplinary artist completed her master’s degree in Nova Scotia last spring. She previously studied at the Alberta College of Art and Design and Red Deer College. Bowd has exhibited her works in Red Deer, as well as nationally and internationally. Some of her pieces were shown in the U.S., Europe and Australia, and are in various public and private collections.

Mise en Scene (meaning ‘Taking the Stage’) continues to Dec. 24 in Edmonton.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com