Questionnaire : Ann Fillmore
Welcome to this week’s Quarantine Questionnaire where you can “Get to know your artists… from a safe distance”.
“I was born in Bathurst NB. As a child I was “horse crazy” and a “Tom Boy”. After high school I attended Nova Scotia Agriculture College, McGill University and the University of Manitoba. I achieved a masters degree in Agriculture. I moved to Fredericton in 1985. For most of my career I worked for the federal government. Unfortunately my job required to me travel extensively so I had to forgo horses. As a substitute I learned to ride a motorcycle.
While I have only recently become an artist, throughout my life I have been creative using many media. My grandmothers were a big influence, teaching me to cook, knit and sew. I remember being at a quilting bee with my maternal grandmother at about the age of 4. My paternal grandmother didn’t use patterns or recipes. From her I think I got the confidence to “ try it” without instructions.
I do cross stitch and needlepoint. I knit, mostly animals for a Christmas charity and make simple lap quilts for a cancer hospital.
I carve wood and stone, generally birds and animals. My husband and I build boats. We have built a skin of frame kayak and bidarka and we are currently working on a 17 foot wooden sailboat.
Near the end of my working career I knew I wanted to explore metals so I enrolled at NBCCD. I didn’t really intend to make jewelry, I was more interested in learning to work with copper. I love to learn and explore. I go with the flow and allow the materials, metal and stones, to take me where they want to go.
I have a small metal and lapidary studio set up in the corner of our garage. I share the space with my husband Dale and his many activities.
What’s the first thing you have to drink in the morning to get your day started?
A. Espresso coffee.
What art movement or artist has influenced your personal style? Can you show reference to that in any particular piece or use of your medium?
A. The work of the south west native Americans has been a great influence. I love to work with turquoise and silver. As a young person I was very involved with horses. A friend of the family had show horses. One of the most special was a mare called Glowing Turquoise. Her show bridle was decorated with silver and turquoise. At that time it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and today, 50 + years later it still inspires me.
What about your medium captivated you to pursue it as an art form?
A. I’ve always liked wrought iron and copper work, the different ways that it can be manipulated into useful or decorative objects. I never thought that I would work with silver but once introduced, I’m hooked. In respect to the work I do with stone material. My whole life I’ve picked up interesting stones, mostly on beaches. Once I learned how to cut and polish stones a whole new world opened up. I’ve now expanded to semi precious stones from around the world.
Is there another medium you’d like to try to adapt your style into?
A. I also work with wood and have dabbled with enamelling. Both of these materials can easily be incorporated with metal. I would really like to learn to make glass, lamp work beads. The beautiful colours and mixtures of colours that are possible would add that wow factor to my silver work.
What’s the most recent show or exhibition you’ve participated in?
A. My most recent showing was at the Christmas open house at NBCCD. We displayed the work I created during my fall independent study. I’ve attached a photo of the display.
Where in the world would you like to visit? Would this reflect in your art? Or do you need a break from your own style?
A. I would like to visit Australia. A couple of years ago I was introduced to cutting and polishing opals, both precious and non-precious types. Australia has an amazing assortment of both.
What’s your favourite colour? Do you use it in your work?
A. It is a toss up between blue and black. I use stones in both colours in my work but, so that I don’t get too boring, I use any colour stone that peeks my interest.
Is there something particularly complicated about your medium that most people aren’t aware of?
A. Metal and stones are not difficult to work with – patience is critical.
Where do you envision your artwork ending up? A city loft? Corporate boardroom? Wistful cottage?
A. It is not so much where but who. I hope my work is varied enough in style that it appeals to just about anyone. I hope that the person who has my jewelry wears it, enjoys it and appreciates the love put into its manufacture.
What are you working on right now?
A. I am working on handmade silver beads, and pod like forms. Last fall I explored air chasing hollow forms, cutting, drilling and filling them, making them into pods and using different patinas, such as cupric nitrate, to give them colour. These were displayed at NBCCD Christmas open house. Currently I am working to reduce the size of these forms to make them appropriate for earrings, pendents, brooches etc.
I am also working with pearls. Last fall I purchased some lovely coin or button pearls and I’ve been incorporating them into some special pieces.
In 2019 I learned kumihimo – a Japanese form of braiding. I am trying to incorporate these beautiful braids into my jewelry, specifically to display large silver beads. I am also learning wire wrapping techniques.
Do you have a vice that you indulge in to reward or motivate yourself?
A. Tools and raw stone. I like to think of tools as a necessity. “ He who ends up with the most wins” Raw stone of any type for cutting and polishing, one can never have enough – I’m actually collecting for my next life.
Do you listen to music when you work (if yes, who and what type) or do you need silence?
A. Sometimes I like it quiet – so that I can hear the rhythmic tapping when I’m hammering. Less enjoyable jobs, like sanding or setting stones, go better with some music – Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Golden Earring, 10 Years After, seem to give me energy.
What do you find encourages you most to get into your work space and create?
A. I am getting older and realize I am running out of time. I want to make every day count. I feel so much inside wanting to burst out that I want to make sure that it gets out before its too late.
How many galleries represent your work?
A. Two. Handworks in Saint John and Gallery on Queen in Fredericton. I am also a member of the the NBCCD Craft and Design Shop – a student cooperative.
Have you worked with another local artist who you find vibes well with your flow. Has this resulted in any partner art projects?
A. My husband is a luthier and I do sometimes work with him by making pieces for him to inlay. Other than that I have not as yet worked with other artists. I am pretty much a loner and like to be in control.
Has being an artist thrown you any curve balls that you genuinely did not see coming?
A. I didn’t realize that I would have to be part of gallery openings and other social events. That is the toughest part of the job.
What makes you laugh more than it should?
A. I don’t laugh much…
What’s your perfect way to “reset” your mind?
A. Take a walk; preferably on a beach with few people on it, but in the woods also works.
What season is your favourite and why?
A. Fall. I am a part time student at NBCCD in the jewelry and metal arts program. I take fall classes. The school environment fuels my creativity. Also the bugs are mostly gone for the year.
What’s your most productive season?
A. All seasons can be equally productive. I work on different things at various times of the year. But, the important thing for me is to accomplish something everyday.
If you weren’t an artist, what career path could you see yourself pursuing?
A. I am retired. I spent the first 25 years of my life being educated and the next 35 working at a science based job. Once retired I had time to pursue my dreams.