Sculptographer? What is that you ask? It made perfect sense when I first saw Anna Church’s work at the 20th Annual Riverdale Artwalk this past June. It made even more sense when I finally sat down with her in her Toronto home in July. Though the word hasn’t yet been put in the Oxford dictionary, it will in due course. A Sculptographer coined by one of Church’s colleagues, is a person who composes objects whether it be found or made, into a harmonious presentation, then captured by a camera – and as a trained and very skilled prop stylist, picking up a camera to shoot her work made her exactly such.
Now, why should you ask, would I be blogging about an artist on a property photography site? Anna Church’s work is a hybrid of craft and fine art. It’s conceptual as much as it is aesthetically appealing that connects with art collectors and other fine artists. And then there’s this craftsmanship that connects well with interior decorators, designers and crafts people. She walks on this fine line with such grace, it complements the two worlds of art and craft in which not many people can achieve.
And not to mention Church’s art can make a room all that more stunning. Not only for its aesthetics, but also for the emotional, intellectual and personal connection one can experience with her art. And by placing her art in a room, it can make a room all the more comfortable for the viewer.
As a trained visual merchandiser and prop stylist myself, I was in awe by what I saw in her home. And as visual merchandisers, we are trained to create a strong visual impression once a shopper enters just three feet into a store. She nailed it for me at less than a foot: weathered metal lockers situated in her foyer, hanging buntings and a what seemed to be a nautical-type flag, a braided graphic carpet in the sitting room, and exquisite deer antlers to be used for her upcoming project.
Anna certainly lives and breathes her art and as a viewer you wouldn’t be surprise if you did the same. She doesn’t just make art for art’s sake “I like to have a concept and have meaning behind everything that I do,” Says Church, “It’s not just creation for the sake of being a creation.” Her art captures you and invites you on a nostalgic journey of memories long forgotten. This feeling of nostalgia often brings one to a safe haven or the familiarity of home. And whether the notion of home is a permanent space or not, this familiarity of ones past is brought into the present. Anna’s personality helped me become all the more comfortable in her space. Her charming personality and her passion for her craft is so apparent in the way she talks, walks and designed her home nestled in Leslieville.
She welcomed me with open arms and took me to her studio where we talked in more detail about her work. Her very first series was something she did “on the sideline” as she described it, while working as a prop stylist in New Zealand. It then morphed into a series of editions, which was an instant success.
“Finding objects is quite inspiring,” says Church, I work on my ides for quite a while,” as she mentioned that her concepts often incubates in her mind, and it gives birth nearly a year later. And the wait is all that much more worth it: bison heads, zebra and shoes, cutlery and metals – everything that one can connect to once you spend a little time ‘reading’ her art.
“It’s awesome watching people view [my sculptographs] for the first time,” Says Church, “Especially while I’m at a booth and people walking pass and say, well it’s a bunch of metals, well [I say,] come, come over and take a closer look. And that was the surprise and wonder and experience with what I see when they go and say “ah, I get it”.” Her work is about having a narrative. Each object represents something in the picture. And as you look at each object you read a multiple of chapters that becomes not just a visual but also a literary experience.
Her art is about seeing the big picture as much as it is exploring up close to the finer details to discover another layer to her work. And by doing so, viewers, as Anna put it, “Get behind the concept and live the art.” And to have her work in a living space helps you do just that.