Montreal-based Lorraine Pritchard was born in and of the Canadian Prairies (Manitoba), whose rhythmic fields and large open sky indelibly impressed themselves in her imagination and forever have influenced her spatial sense. These early memories of landscape, the open emptiness of space have been a catalyst for mapping the interior.
In November 2007, for her “Au diapason” (‘in tune with’) solo show at Craig Scott Gallery, Pritchard collaborated with Toronto-based pianist John Ebata to produce a body of work -- paintings and music -- through the back-and-forth engagement of the two artists, each composing their works interactively, in response to each other, in a combination of a kind of non-stop jam session and an ongoing process of 'tuning.' The collaboration was simultaneously a tribute to the music of Dizzy Gillespie. Music composed and recorded by Ebata as part of the collaboration was performed at the show’s opening.
It was while studying Interior Design in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba, that she realized she wanted to pursue art. Pritchard began a program of independent study and development of art at the same time as rooting herself in the teachings of the Baha’i Faith. After working independently, she decided to go to OCA (Ontario College of Art) in Toronto and followed with studies of Asian Art at York University. The philosophy of eastern aesthetics inspired her and clarified her direction. Since then, the work coalesced into variations on themes concerning the interrelationship of spiritual and physical reality (so evident in Asian Art). These themes have appeared in the form of a visual language, exploring among other subjects, writing and music. Underlying all is a search for ways to make outwardly accessible that which exists inwardly. Following from the basic premise that we have an internal existence and an outward form, it is only natural this should echo in one’s work.
Her works include drawings on washi (handmade Japanese paper), acrylic paintings on canvas and wood, and assemblages formed from found and constructed objects. More recently, she has been collaborating with musicians, choreographers and writers in a search for expanding her visual language. Collections such as Le Droit (Ottawa), Loto Quebec, Europe’s Best (Montreal) and others include her paintings. Her work has been exhibited in Canada, France, Belgium, Holland and Japan (including a solo exhibition at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo).
The following passage was written by Prichard in early 2006 as a commentary on work that includes the following images to the left (Ecrit Rouge, Distant Code, Code Notations No 1 to No 5, En Penchant, Silent Echo, and Photo Vue):
. . .“graven upon the tablet of man the secrets of pre-existence. . .”(from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh)
Oral language does not have to be written. A written language does not have to be spoken. A visual language does not have to be read—to be fully understood. These works attempt here to create such a visual language, living, rich, full of meaning and beauty, whose vocabulary consists of intuitive markings that communicate with each other individually, and with the viewer, as a whole. They form row after row of visual dialogue which a viewer “hears” as they follow their march across the surface, much like in music, where notes flow together to create a melody, and in themselves do not have meaning except as they relate to each other.
Of the pieces, some may be seen to reflect the more formal, orderly and pre-meditated notations found in classical music, while others, where the structure is less evident and the spatial relationships more important, are much like jazz where improvisation and spontaneity are featured.
It is hoped that such a language may in its silence, thus be freed to convey understanding of things that spoken words cannot. The marking may be considered to communicate in the same way as a single eloquent gesture that it would take a thousand words to describe.
A great many are familiar elements such as arrows, x’s, triangles or numbers that are irreducible in their nature, and are to be found in virtually all cultures. They pay homage to the universal urge of every people to set down in some concrete form the abstract thoughts of their minds. But the majority are original gestural expressions consisting of cursive shapes, symbol-like fragments, or an alphabet of an unknown tongue, many repeating as they would in a known script.
These rows of markings, forming patterns, rhythms and movement across the surface of the paintings invoke in their way the vast, moving fields of the prairies that are such a potent visual reference for the artist. They may also be likened to sacred texts whose flowing lines hold mysteries and meanings which unfold only to persistent inquiry.
Thus, patterned fields of markings emerge in the pieces, suggesting both an external and internal landscape, the former referring to those great boundless expanses of land, the latter to the reality that for each of us the only certain territory of the sacred is within our own hearts.