Artist Zillah Loney now lives in Kingston Ontario. Much of her art has been inspired by the vibrant life of the Eastern Townships of Quebec where she lived for 25 years. She was raised in London, Ontario, and received her B.A. in Art History and B. Ed. from Queen’s University in Kingston. After classroom teaching in Toronto and North Hatley Quebec, she became a Supervisor of Practice Teaching and lectured on Art Education for the Graduate School of Education at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville Quebec.
Zillah Loney had her first solo exhibition in 1996 at Uplands Cultural & Historical Centre in Lennoxville Quebec following a decision to seriously pursue her art with studies in Fine Art and a year of independent studio production.
Since then she has exhibited at Galerie Jeannine Blais: Art Naif, North Hatley Quebec; Winchester Galleries, Victoria B.C.; Michael Gibson Gallery, London Ontario; Nancy Poole’s Studio, Hazleton Lane, Toronto; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: Sales and Rentals; Hollander York Gallery, Yorkville Ave. Toronto; Robert Macklin Gallery and Agnes Etherington Art Center Sales and Rental in Kingston, Ontario.
Zillah Loney creates mixed media artwork with a focus on assemblages, oils, watercolours and collage. Her work reflects a background strong in printmaking, drawing, design and colour. It has been variously described as contemporary, sophisticated, naïf, humorous…and unique.
My ongoing series of Assemblages, “Memento Mori”, was inspired by the contents of an old family trunk I inherited in 2007. Somehow these odds and ends of fine clothing, fabric, buttons, and ephemera had survived decades of dry attics, damp basements, and antics of many children. While it was clear the memorabilia had seen better days, I could see they possessed stories now lost to time.
The trunk has passed through the hands of many people. Accordingly, it is now my turn to honour these relatives in a personal way, by placing pieces of their memorabilia in my artwork. Aesthetically, with assemblages, my challenge is to re-purpose found and vintage materials in ways that will reveal their beauty potential in terms of composition, design, colour and form. In this way I try to honour their story, and also remind the viewer of the inevitable passage of time – and of one’s mortality.
Even though the items’ stories are lost to us, my artwork is homage to their individuality and beauty though they are now damaged and out of fashion. This is their encore performance, their return to the public stage as decorative pieces...that pay tribute to my relatives’ memories.
My printmaking technique for creating oils on panels is challenging: overlays of oil-based block print inks are hand-pressed onto gesso board using inked textures from found materials, and cut-outs of paper. There is no brushwork. The contrast between freedom and the constraints of technique complement each other - a juxtaposition I enjoy. A narrative is represented by means of a contemporary naif art form. In particular, Lennoxville Quebec folk-figure Iris Brown appears as my muse in this series, as she toils in her trademark pearls, black and white skirt, and sturdy black shoes. The fabric of her life reflects the cultural traditions and tenacity of rural folk.
My background in printmaking has been a springboard for the eclectic mixed media art I now create. The watercolours and pen and ink sketches I do are quick, light, spontaneous and expressive. Surprise can be the best inspiration. On the whole, I like to be playful…and to create visual surprises by juxtaposing varied patterns, textures, movement…with the unusual.