By Jeremy Katz

Toronto – Canada

 

Photography By Mark Raynes Roberts

 

 

 

Crystal Artist & Designer Mark Raynes Roberts

 

 

Two Artists Make “WAR Flowers” Bloom

Mark Raynes Roberts: Crystal Artist

 

Vignette One of Two

 

 

Photography by Mark Raynes Roberts

WAR Flowers | Fleur D’Armes. GRACE – Talbot Papineau (Flower: Pink Rose)

 

When considering how best to create the different elements for her First World War-themed touring art exhibition WAR Flowers, curator Viveka Melki immediately thought of renowned Toronto crystal artist Mark Raynes Roberts.

 

Roberts, an English-born artist and photographer who immigrated to Canada in the 1980s, has, over the past three decades, built a remarkable international reputation, with numerous solo exhibitions and also commissioned work presented to royalty, heads of state, sports superstars and industrial leaders.  

 

Photography by Mark Raynes Roberts

WAR Flower|Fleur D’Armes. INNOCENCE (Daisy) Jean Brilliant.

 

Melki asked Roberts if he would create ten original crystal sculptures portraying scenes illustrating the different aspects of human nature reflected in her exhibition’s ten thematically-integrated “stations”.

 

Photography by Mark Raynes Roberts

WAR Flowers | Fleur D’Armes. MOTHER’S LOVE – Julia Drummond (Flower: English Daisy)

 

Roberts was excited by the challenge.  But before embarking on the design process, Roberts researched Canada’s role during the First World War, to help him develop a visual library of hand-drawn sketches and inform his final designs for the crystals.

 

Photography by Mark Raynes Roberts

WAR Flowers | Fleur D’Armes. HEALING – George Vanier (Flower: Stitchwort)

 

WAR Flowers’ poignant true story of a soldier’s wartime letters and flowers sent to his baby daughter back home in Canada provided Roberts with a unique opportunity to incorporate engravings of the flowers into ten sculptures reflecting the ten human themes of the art exhibition.  In each piece, Roberts hoped to artistically capture the fragility and human emotions of war.

 

Photography by Mark Raynes Roberts

WAR Flowers | Fleur D’Armes. SOLITUDE – A. Y. Jackson (Flower: Heather)

 

Photography by Mark Raynes Roberts

WAR Flowers | Fleur D’Armes. SOLITUDE – A. Y. Jackson (Flower: Heather)

 

In his Toronto studio, he gathered the finest optical crystal with which he would design and then hand-engrave the ten sculptures.

As the WAR Flowers exhibition would be touring, it was important for him to consider the scale of the sculptures, their safety in transit, and how they would also be displayed and illuminated.  Working with Melki and exhibition designer Normand Dumont, Roberts was able to design ten uniquely-shaped crystal sculptures which surpassed the necessary specifications.

 

World On The Run

WAR Flowers | Fleur D’Armes. RESOLVE TO WIN – Percival Molson (Flower: Columbine)

 

As a crystal engraver, Mark Roberts employed two ancient techniques: intaglio (three-dimensional carving) and stipple engraving (using a diamond point to create dark and light).  To create an ethereal element to his work, he engraved the different crystal surfaces to maximize the refractive properties of the crystal, or make images appear and disappear.

 

Photography by Mark Raynes

WAR Flowers | Fleur D’Armes. FAMILIAL LOVE – Lt. Col. George S. Cantlie (Flower: Yellow Rose)


The combination of strong and delicate engraved imagery is illuminated in the exhibition from underneath, and set against a black background.

 

World On The Run

WAR Flowers|Fleur D’Armes ETERNAL SLEEP – John McCrae (Flower: Poppies)

 

“Designing and creating these sculptures for this emotionally powerful exhibition was just a terrific experience,” says Roberts.  “My hope and intention for all of the imagery I created for the sculptures was to create works of art which symbolized the courage, honour and humanity of those who fought and died in WW1.”

 

World On The Run

WAR Flowers | Fleur D’Armes. DEVOTION – Edward Savage (Flower: Lavender)

 

Video.. goo.gl/1KdPXW

WAR Flowers, produced by Reford Gardens/Jardins de Métis,is currently being exhibited at the Visitor Education Center, Canadian National Memorialin Vimy, France through September, and then can be seen at the Château Ramezay Museumin Montreal from October through March 2019.

 

World On The Run

WAR Flowers | Fleur D’Armes. MEMORY – Elsie Reford (Flower: Forget-Me-Knot)

 

 





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