It’s been a long time since Christy Haldane was drawn to the blue tint of commercial glass that caught her eye on her daily commute from Toronto to Oakville. As condos rose around her, the textures, the shapes, and the glass brought about a focus and a fascination that remains the signature tint in her functional sculptures and wearable art.
Living just outside of Peterborough, she has fused that passion for glass with the grounding of local stone to create tactile pieces that do more than just look nice. Christy’s creations are available from her website at www.christyhaldane.com and, as we move into the holiday season, she hopes her art will be a top choice for those seeking a very special gift
As a renowned artist, Christy’s sculptures have graced the banks of the Trent Severn Waterway and have made appearances in galleries across the region. As with all artists, the pandemic has limited Christy’s opportunities to exhibit her work, but she has embraced the isolation to reflect and focus on creating new art.
“This was a time for me to be able to slow down and to look around,” Christy says. “I made myself stop and, because I didn’t have any shows, I went back to found items and collected pieces — there was inspiration in these found items.”
Christy has been creating art from recycled items throughout her entire career and her location has always inspired what she has been able to find, adapt, and harness.
She is attracted to concrete as a medium, noting the differences in the stones that form the material, which are determined by physical location. Found industrial materials also bring her great joy and, over the years, recycling glass has become more and more of her focus.
“I recycle windows — those old sliders,” Christy laughs. “When they made them, they added iron and that’s where you get the blue colour. It comes from the iron.”
Spending time in her studio during the quiet created by the pandemic, Christy says she had an opportunity to start revisiting the many bits and pieces she has collected over the years.
“There was a reason why I collected these things, and this was a time to rediscover ideas,” she says.
The rediscovery process has been rewarding and has unleashed a flood of creativity that is making its way into recent creations featuring dock wood, concrete, old steel, and so much stone.
“I do lots of thinking when I’m driving or out walking my dogs,” Christy notes. “I’m kind of a eureka moment person.”
These moments are why each of her functional sculptures are different.
Her vases, for example, are created from the same materials as her other works — stone and glass — but are completely unique.
“I grew up in southern Ontario and the stone there is so different,” Christy says. “Stones change from region to region and this impacts what is created. It’s part of why as Canadians we are so grounded in our landscape — we see ourselves as part of it.”
This connection to the landscape is clearly expressed with Christy’s vase creations, but also in her pendants. While they are meant to be worn, the pendants beg to be held in your hand, to be warmed by skin. They are decidedly formal but, with such a rugged beauty, can easily be used as a casual accessory too.
VIDEO: Peterborough-area artist Christy Haldane at work in her studio
Christy’s vases are equally reflective of this rugged beauty. The functional sculptures combine beautifully with wildflowers or even weeds. Like the pendants, the pieces invite touch — they need to be felt, held, and turned based on mood. This is not the kind of art that should live on a high shelf away from hands and hearts.
Christy laughs while recalling a show she did at the Art Gallery of Peterborough.
“I used the Trent Severn as the inspiration,” Christy recalls. “The pieces were on the ramp and the curator went crazy because everyone was touching them. But I want to work with something people touch — even in outdoor shows the pieces warm up in the sun.”
Because Christy’s art is so accessible, she enjoys those moments when people suddenly “get it” — their deeper connection to an unspoken understanding of what it is to be Canadian and to be so impacted by our regional landscapes.
The global pandemic has also created a different kind of regional landscape and, as Christy prepares for a holiday season without shows, she says her work reflects what we have experienced over the past year. Forced to adapt to significant and previously unimaginable change and facing a fear of the unknown, many of us have found comfort in the beauty and stability of our natural surroundings.
Christy’s process is about capturing moments of history in found objects and then fusing these together to create a new story. That process is exemplified in her popular “Memory Stones”, one-of-a-kind stone-and-glass pendants, lone sculptures, and memorial sculptures. You provide her with stones you have collected that mean something to you — whether from a special place, person, or time in your life — and Christy incorporates them into a piece of art you can cherish forever.
“My work is first about the story,” Christy explains. “Then it’s process and medium driven.”
The year that is wrapping up is unlike anything we have experienced before, and the art Christy is creating for the holiday season is an antidote to uncertainty, stress, and isolation. Her work delivers a feeling of grounding, permanence, and fresh perspective and everything begs to be touched and held — creating the personal connection and closeness so many of us have longed for since the pandemic began.
Christy lives on a hobby farm outside of Peterborough, Ontario. Her work, ranging from small-scale wearable art to large sculptural installations, can be viewed and purchased on her website at www.christyhaldane.com. Selected works will also be available in the gallery shop at the Art Gallery of Peterborough (250 Crescent St., Peterborough) when the gallery reopens on November 21st after installing new exhibitions.
This story was created in partnership with Christy Haldane.