Christine Mockett

#CouncilSpotlight – Christine Mockett

Jennifer Clark

Photo credit: Joan Anderson

Christine Mockett: Possibility in What is Discarded

The Ottawa Arts Council supports artists and arts organizations through leadership, guidance and the provision of opportunities to advance our local creative potential.

Our series #CouncilSpotlight presents stories and experiences of Arts Council members and art award recipients.

Christine received the Corel Endowment Fund for the Arts Award in 2015.

Christine Mockett

Photo credit: Peter Juranka

Where are you from? Are you from the Ottawa area?

I am originally from Eastbourne on the south coast of England. I grew up in Campbellford, Ontario and lived 4 years in Australia, before moving to Ottawa in 2000. I’ve been here ever since.

How did you get involved in the Ottawa arts community?

I started working in the arts in Ottawa in 2006. I joined the National Capital Network of Sculptors and met a fantastic group of artists. I made lifelong friends, learned new skills, shared my knowledge and benefited enormously from such a welcoming environment. From there I learned about other community organizations and ended up getting very involved in teaching and co-created community projects. I particularly enjoyed participating in the inaugural year of Art Place by the Arts Ottawa East (AOE) Arts Council.

How would you describe your artistic practice/discipline?

My work examines the connections between people and place, belonging and absence. My sculptures and low relief paintings combine the physicality of buildings, abstracted human and animal forms, and miss/interpretations of actions. I work with building materials (wood, concrete, stainless, aluminium, paint) and fibre, frequently clothing. The clothing is an intermediary between people and buildings, a portable architecture, wound around building materials like lives wind around places. My art practice is sculpture and fibre art centred, but it would also be fair to call it mixed media and constantly expanding in interests. Teaching, co-created community projects and environmental preservation are a very important and an incredibly enjoyable part of what I do.

Christine Mockett

Kim Ohno, Operettes and Old Growth

What impact has your involvement with the arts/the Ottawa arts community had on your life?

My involvement with art and the Ottawa arts community has had a huge impact on my life.  Working in art is constantly different and becomes what I make of it. I thrive on the unexpected potential that this creates in every day.   The flexibility, change and variety keep life and work interesting. Just looking at a pile of things someone else has discarded gets me thinking of possibilities. This makes me very happy.

Being involved in the Ottawa arts community is like being part of a huge family that is constantly welcoming new people. I meet incredibly creative people through my art-making, teaching, collaborations, trading supplies and interactions.

Is there a specific moment/situation in your art career that you remember fondly?

I had a sculpture rejected from a student show once and when I asked why, I was told it wasn’t good enough. The next week a US international art magazine asked to publish the same sculpture as the future of fibre art. I still laugh about this, but it taught me a valuable lesson. No matter what I’ve created it will be liked and disliked, so it is important to be true to my own voice always.

Do you have any advice for artists in the Ottawa community or artists in general?

It is important to listen to advice but even more important to ultimately make your own decisions. Some of the advice I give myself:

  • If today is going badly and you can’t fix it, turn today into a benevolent benefactor of tomorrow. Do something, however great or small, that will make tomorrow a better day.

  • Create new possibilities constantly. Be out there encountering the world, talking to people, learning, growing and sharing.

  • Being generous with time, skills, company and materials is good for the soul, and there isn’t much better than seeing a sparkle ignite in someone's eyes.

  • Watch out for the things you swear you aren’t good at or won’t try. They have a tendency to turn into things you’re good at and love doing.

  • I also like the Henry Ford quote that there are no large problems, only lots of small ones. This helps me break down daunting tasks that seem impossible into small pieces that are very doable.

Christine Mockett

People Place Series

What are you currently working on?

I am constantly working to build new community co-created art projects, and I particularly enjoy working with people who have trouble accessing regular art programming. I just finished teaching a fibre figure and animal sculpture class at Winthrop Court Community House called “Nest Watch.” It was funded by the Ontario Arts Council and I co-taught with artist Jenny McMaster.  These are some of the nicest people you will ever meet and it is rewarding beyond words to work with them and see them succeed.

In my own artwork I am building life-sized fibre sculptures combining people and place with narratives of life. I am developing new ways of building low, high and sunken relief fibre surfaces for painting and I am always working from an environmental perspective with salvaged materials and themes of sustainability.

What was it like to receive an award from the Ottawa Arts Council? How did it impact your career?

Receiving an award from the Ottawa Arts Council was very important to me. The Corel Endowment Fund for the Arts award helped fund my “Walkway” project. This is a sculpture installation at the Somerset West Community Health Centre with fibre sculptures mounted on a 12’ beam heading into the centre of the building. In this project, I had the opportunity to work with architects, engineers, building managers, a community health centre, program coordinators and some pretty amazing students. This experience working with so many different stakeholders was fun and an important transferable skill for future projects.

The award was important not only for the financial support and learning, but also as reciprocal encouragement from the community. To me, awards like this say that art is important to the wellbeing of the community and the work we do as artists is valued, recognized and encouraged.

Want to learn more about Christine? Visit www.christinemockett.ca.

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Applications for the Ottawa Arts Council Awards have closed for 2018. Recipients will be announced at the Presentation Evening on May 29, 2018.

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