Lea Hamilton’s artworks speak to visual perception and materiality. Considering herself primarily a painter, her practice revolves around the manipulation of surfaces and conceptualized image making. Nevertheless, she also is heavily concerned with materiality, and her practice often resolves itself sculpturally. Hamilton draws inspiration from portraiture and its history to explore the relationship between the viewer and the viewed, as well as the roles that ritual and time play in the creation of an artwork. By engaging with unconventional and reflective materials, her work seeks to call attention to the act of looking, and allows the materials to convey a message. Hamilton was born in 1992 in Ottawa. She received her BFA from the University of Ottawa in 2014. Hamilton has exhibited in and curated several shows in Ottawa and Toronto. Her most recent exhibitions include Art and Chocolate at Artscape Youngplace in Toronto, SURFACING II at Studio Sixty Six in Ottawa and Preface, the graduating exhibition at the University of Ottawa. Hamilton's works are in numerous private collections in Canada. Hamilton is currently working on several solo and collaborative projects and developing a new body of work. She currently lives and practices in Ottawa.
The Vanitas series of works is an idea I have been experimenting with for two years. It stemmed initially from research of how painting and sculpture could intersect. This led me to further research vanitas still life paintings, the motif of mirrors in painting, and how they could be used to create illusory space.
I was taken by the idea that I could not only make paintings, but, if I worked with reflective materials, the viewer could see themselves in the painting as well. Then, not only could I look at the work passively, as I would viewing a painting, but also engage actively in the space around me as I would encountering a sculpture.
I sought to use copper specifically because its surface could be chemically altered to create different colours and reactions. Liver of sulfur, when applied to copper, creates a black patina; hydrogen peroxide, salt and vinegar create textured variations of blue and green. However, by applying these chemicals, I was actively eroding and encouraging the degradation of the copper by speeding up the oxidization process. Secondly, the labour-intensive process of varnishing the work, coupled with the expense of the material itself, made each piece into a precious object.
Through the process of making these works, my conception of them changed from simply manipulating surfaces to the creation and preservation of an eroding precious object. They serve me as physical time capsules of the time spent making them, as well as a reservoir of themes that continue to interest me today: perception, memory, ritual, preciousness, materiality, and the relationship between the viewer and the viewed.