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A BAG of mixed media

One of the best things about the Brackendale Art Gallery (BAG) is its continuous devotion to showcase a wide variety of art forms and individual expression.

One of the best things about the Brackendale Art Gallery (BAG) is its continuous devotion to showcase a wide variety of art forms and individual expression.

By sticking to this mantra for its latest exhibition, visitors to the BAG will be treated to a truly unique collection of art by some highly talented and sough-after local artists.

"The gallery has never looked better," said Brackendale Art Gallery owner Thor Froslev of the current exhibition showing now. "It looks and feels like the finest exhibition of art we've had in many years - it's outstanding."

"Mixed BAG", as the current showcase of art is called, features the work of three artists who each toil in different mediums. Lining the walls of the BAG are the Japanese-themed paintings of artist/ author Dakota Hamilton, who shares her art for the first time as a painter. Sharing the space in the gallery are the many fine woodworks of master woodturner and furniture maker Martin P. Thorne, along with the rare and unique medieval-inspired pieces from current BAG artist-in-residence Acorn. His art is comprised of chain-mail armour, swords, shields and masks all painstakingly handcrafted using different types of metals.

"Marty Thorne is without a doubt a master woodturner," said Froslev. "He's very sought after all along the coast for his beautiful creations."

Thorne, who has been working with wood for as long as he can remember, creates a vast and varied collection of pieces from one of nature's finest mediums. At his workshop/studio in downtown Squamish, Thorne fashions custom giftware such as bud vases, tea-light candleholders, sculptural turnings and more from locally found red and yellow cedar and maple woods.

"It's a mix of functional and sculptural," Thorne said of his creations. He has been a Squamish resident for more than 30 years, and has shown his art at the Brackendale Art Gallery on six separate occasions, but never with other artists.

"BAG's like a second home to me. It's very inspirational to show there - the atmosphere of the place really lends itself to creativity."

Dakota Hamilton has also had a long-standing relationship with the BAG. She has helped Froslev with the many cement face-castings that characterize the exterior walls of the famed gallery, and has recently turned to painting as her newest creative outlet.

"I've loved Asian art since I was a little girl," she said. "I've lived in Japan and I really love this period of art."

Her paintings are based upon the art known as UKIYO-E, a phrase which means "fleeting or floating world" in Japanese. It was the first Asian art made accessible to the ordinary public centuries ago.

Hamilton's work is all the more stunning considering the fact she has only been painting full-time since November 2003.

"Dakota Hamilton is an amazing woman of many talents. She's a published author, and her paintings are exquisite - her work has a lot of fluidity," said Froslev.

"I love it and hope to carry on doing it. I've been coming here for 20-plus years and it's a very unique place," said Hamilton. "So many artists have been involved here over the years and it's great to be a part of. This is the perfect place to share my work, and it feels great to share this space with two other talented artists."

The youngest of the three artists who comprise Mixed BAG, artist-in-residence Acorn has turned his tedious efforts into a collection of unique, old-world art. Creating chain-mail armour and medieval battle weapons like swords, helmets and shields requires a high level of patience and concentration - something the Squamish artist possesses plenty of.

"It's repetitive but very relaxing," said Acorn. "The history of armour really interests me and I want to pass it on. Not only do I enjoy making it but I really like to pass on the knowledge of how I make it."

Acorn creates his chain-mail armour by meticulously and carefully cutting and joining thousands of pieces of wire, which is shaped into tiny circles by pliers. A typical chain-mail shirt can take more than 300 hours and can weigh more than 40 lbs. His masks are made by cold-working steel with a ball-peen hammer into the desired shape.

"It's important for me to know what the armour is going to be used for," said Acorn. "It has to provide for a good range of motion to be effective."

This is also Acorn's first showing at the Brackendale Art Gallery, and also takes his creations to schools during their studies of medieval times.

"I make it because that's what I like doing," he said. "And it's fun to show it off."

The Mixed BAG exhibition runs until June 14.

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