Martha Sturdy: All Fall Down
Martha Sturdy in her studio. Photo: Blaine Campbell, 2022.

Martha Sturdy: All Fall Down

West Vancouver Art Museum, West Vancouver, BC - To Dec 17

by Christine Clark

Martha Sturdy, a Vancouver-based artist responsible for Studio Sturdy, first found international success among elite fashion designers with her poured resin jewelry. Later she expanded her line with much-laud-ed functional design pieces, including furniture, light fixtures and dinnerware. Now in her 80s, Sturdy is entirely focused on producing glossy, highly textured sculpture out of blackened wood.

Previous sculpture work includes large-scale wall-mounted ribbons of brass, while her resin and steel constructions, given titles such as Totem 200901 and 210216C Stack, are over six feet tall, brightly hued and geometric. These earlier works are clean-lined, highly manufactured and a stark contrast to the work in All Fall Down, inspired by the black sculptures of Louise Nevelson and Franz Kline’s black-and-white paintings. All Fall Down is divided into four parts of sculpture and installation. The wood, collected from an ancient stand of trees on Sturdy’s 240-acre ranch in Pemberton, has been treated with a Japanese technique called shou sugi ban, historically used to preserve wood through fire, after which Sturdy applies stains and resins. The wood in these human-scaled works is undulating, cracked, chained and mounted.

Sturdy writes, “As an elder within society, I know that it is my role to share the knowledge garnered through my own experience of life. Sculpture is a medium that allows me to communicate a personal perspective on critical environmental concerns. We must be reminded that our opportunity to impact the climate is upon us… All Fall Down invites each person to ask themselves how their own actions can uplift and support nature’s cycles of renewal – with passion and positivity.”

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