This series of 5 watercolour paintings illustrate the spaces I move through and around on a consistent basis. The COVID-19 lockdown and subsequent re-openings with numerous restrictions in the Toronto area severely limited my physical capacity to move beyond my immediate neighbourhood. I could not rely on public transit, or even my own body, to get me further afield safely. I followed public health directives to stay home except for essential outings. The concept of “home” is explored in these works—specifically, what constitutes a home? Is it four walls and a roof? Or can it be expanded to the landscaped corner outside your apartment building, to the coffee shop across the street you frequent daily, to the park two hundred metres away that you visited in order to meet with one or two people safely, to the rooftop sundeck at your apartment building, or the back entrance to the building that you used in order to avoid the throngs of delivery drivers with food or parcels? What exactly creates our homes is significantly less limited and precise than the Work-From-Home crowd would have us believe. These liminal spaces presented in this series are connected by an otherwise invisible thread—an ambiguous, lone figure...the shadow of the idea of socialization...these spaces are rendered in a deep Prussian blue that itself refers back to the omnipresent blue light emitted by our digital screens. The closest many of us get to physically holding each other is by holding the image of our loved ones in spaces where we are alone. Layering transparent yellows, oranges, and reds over the blue framework creates an eerie, melancholic atmosphere within the work. It equalizes the apparent time, as noons blur into twilights into midnights into dawns. In this way, the colours that signal to us the passage of time—changing foliage, shifting sunlight, dappled moonlight, stark incandescent streetlamps—are obliterated and instead anchored by this neverending-neverstarting “COVID time.”
Bri Vermeer is a painter and printmaker working out of a home she has made for herself in an otherwise stark apartment building in Toronto, ON. Bri is completing her seventh and final year at OCAD University. Bri’s relationships with her close extended family and friends form the foundation upon which she creates work. Working through the loss of her immigrant grandparents and father at an early age, Bri seeks to find the threads of her familial narrative. Her focus is on the intersection of memory, grief, sentimental textiles, and finally the distance between her family members through time. Previously working in large scale oil paintings, or in the shared environment of a printmaking shop, she has pivoted to making handheld paintings with watercolours sustainably handmade on Manitoulin Island—a place central to her childhood. Bri’s current practice continues the work of finding threads in time with which to weave her own narrative amongst the ever-shifting world she calls home.