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Wellesley artist among latest recipients of regional grants

Jackie Patridge will use the Waterloo Arts Fund grant to help finish her book, entitled Patched. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

For most artists, paper is the practical canvas on which to display their artworks, but for Jackie Partridge, it is the medium. A Wellesley native, poet, photographer and skilled manipulator of pulp, Partridge is authoring a new book celebrating the local environment through her distinct craft.

Helping her along the way was a grant last month from the bi-annual Region of Waterloo Arts Fund, which is holding an information session next week for those interested in applying for the next round of grants.

For Partridge, the modest grant of $2,500 will allow her to complete her book, Patched.

“The project is going to be a photo-based and poetry book,” explained Partridge. “And then I’m going to be donating 20 per cent of the copies to different libraries in Waterloo Region, just to kind of give back to the region for supporting the grant.”

The book will feature a collection of photographs of Partridge’s art, which embodies the use of paper and pulp products almost as a sculptor would use clay.

“The photographs are all based off a similar patched project that’s on my website, where I am embedding different map paper pulp into areas of a tree where the bark has broken off,” she says. “It’s sort of an act of mending, or repairing, as I’m really interested with different environmental concerns.”

With the ability to be rendered flat, molded into different shapes and figures, and reused and recycled, paper has a unique value as Partridge’s medium of choice.

It’s the field of study she gravitated towards in school. After starting off with her undergraduate studies in painting and drawing, Partridge recently completed her master’s of fine arts at Montreal’s Concordia University, with a specialty in fibre and material practices.

“I consider myself to be a mixed media artist. In my master’s, I worked a lot with paper making, so I’m really interested in the different qualities of paper-making, and kind of taking it to a more sculptural approach. My master’s program was fibres and material practices. So working a lot more with crafts than more traditional mediums in fine arts.”

Partridge was one of 37 artists to receive a grant from the latest dispersal by the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund, which awarded a total of $210,000.

The grants specifically target smaller artists in the region that are artistically exceptional, explained Betty Anne Keller, chair of the arts fund board, with an eye towards supporting those projects that are likely to come to fruition.

“That’s what we look for first,” said Keller, “Is the artistic value, because the mandate and the mission of the arts fund is to make art happen in Waterloo. And so we look for projects that are creative, interesting, that will move not just the artists’ career forward, but also the arts scene in Waterloo Region forward. It’s all about community development from an artistic lens, if you will.”

With the first round of grant money doled out, the arts fund will be considering a second round of applicants for the fall, for which the deadline to apply is September 7. The group will also be hosting a drop-in open house on August 14, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Region of Waterloo administrative headquarters on 150 Frederick St., Kitchener.

The open house will feature a 15-minute presentation at 5:15, followed by an informal reception which will give interested applicants the opportunity to speak with the arts fund board members.

Those interested in learning more about Partridge and her upcoming book, or simply viewing a selection of past works, including her standalone “Patched” artwork project upon which her book will be based, can visit her website.

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