Gareth Bate is a painter, performer, curator, web designer, teacher and a few other things. His work has been shown in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. He graduated from OCAD where he won various awards and scholarships including the 401 Richmond Career-Launcher Prize. Currently, he’s working on a series of portraits painted on mirrors as part of an installation called Jewel Net of Indra.
This building, 401 Richmond, is a big part of my practise–the cafe, galleries, going up to the garden. I really wanted to stay in the building. When I saw other studios, they looked so run down and you know that there’s rats and horrible things and I could not work in a place like that. I like the community aspect of the building. I like the plants and all the art around. It suits me.
I visit friends in the building like John Brown, Howard Podeswa and Kelly Cade. We complain about the world and stuff like that. If I leave my studio, I have to come back and work out for 10 minutes. I do push-ups and run around the basement. I’ve become regimented. It works for me. Otherwise, I’d just sit around. It’s like, ‘How to Get Fit as an Artist.’
It makes a huge difference because one thing I found when I was working on Jewel Net of Indra for the Gladstone, I was getting really bad pains in my neck and I was even starting to see funny so working out has really helped with that.
I come to the studio from 10am til 5:30pm. I teach three days a week and I do web design at night. Right now, I’m working on the expansion of Jewel Net of Indra. It’s double the size. This is the first time I’ve wanted to come really early and stay all day long. Before it was like a chore, I had to go to the studio because I had to work. Now I actually want to come.
At the Gladstone, I found that people understood this piece intuitively. More than any other piece that I’ve done. I think they’ll get it more once I’ve arranged them so that they’re interconnected. It also helps to figure out who the person in the portrait is. I found that people were talking to each other, trying to figure it out together.
Karla Homolka is key to the success of the piece because every time people saw her, they realized what the piece was–that it’s not just a wall of heroes. That’s why you want the murderers in there. It’s meant to be everyone, not just people who are admirable or great. People instantly recognize her. Her and Robert Pickton.
When I’m painting the mirrors, I have the person’s portrait up and I watch university courses on DVD. They’re fantastic. I watch the course while I paint the person. Sometimes it’s about the person, not always, but sometimes. I’m learning while I paint which helps me concentrate more on the person. It feels like I’m expanding my mind. I think sometimes as an artist you worry that you’re doing something completely frivolous but you get over that eventually and just do what you do.
–Gareth Bate, as told to Studio Beat
Photos by Brian Mancini
Visit Gareth Bate’s website here.