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Media Recognition

Featured in Print

  • "Artisan's Way" featured artist summer 2012
  • Featured artist in County Weekly News (2011)
  • “The Grapevine” Fall 2010 – special online article
  • Featured artist article in the “County” magazine (Winter 2008)
  • Umbrella covering the Arts in Quinte (Jan/Feb 2010)
  • The Pioneer (Sept 2009)

Featured on television and video

  • 30 Second commercial for Signature’s 25th Anniversary Christmas show (2007) at the Congress Centre. The commercial ran on CTV and was of her working. 
  • Kirei was featured on CTV’s Regional Contact, a ten minute profile shot in her studio
  • interviewed live on A Channel’s Morning TV with Karen Soloman
  • Daytime with Derick Fage and Terrllynn Radee on Rogers


Adventures in LaLaLand

The molten world of Kirei Samuel

It is chilly this morning in LaLaLand waiting for the bus to arrive. Artist Kirei Samuel, insulated in a long woollen coat, is keeping busy in her implement shed-turned studio, preparing for a visit by some 65 members of the William Morris Society of Canada. They are late.

The William Morris Society is a group dedicated to the life and ideas of the 19th century English artist, designer, writer and craftsman. Best known for his wallpaper and textile design, Morris’s followers are more interested in his ideas and how they formed his consideration of art and design.

Kirei Samuel’s studio is situated on high flat land on Scoharie Road, just west of Highway 62. She can see at least two wineries and many acres of farmland from her patch of the County. She works mostly in glass—conjuring colours and shapes from the molten material. The results range from easily accessible to strange and obtuse.

Like the glass she works with Samuel is always in motion, always searching and seemingly never content. When she feels she has mastered something—a technique or method—she is inclined to smash it and start again.

Samuel inspects the coloured patterns revealed by smashing previously fused glass.

To illustrate the point, Samuel retrieves a slab of glass—about a foot square—and attacks it with a hammer. Holding up a shard of the shattered glass, she points to the pattern of rainbow colours the outbreak of violence has revealed.

“That is what I am looking for,” says Samuel. “My world is driven by the question, ‘What if?’”

Her studio features three furnaces— two small ones are suspended from the ceiling. She uses gravity to coax the molten glass to drip like taffy out the bottom of the suspended kilns, forming thin rods. These multicoloured glass rods then become the raw material for an array of designs and finished products.

There is an intense amount of work, time and craft infused into each piece she makes—not to mention the investment needed to acquire and operate her furnaces and studio.

“Glass is a hard sell,” says Samuel. “It is a very expensive medium. I sometimes wish I was driven to make art with a paintbrush.”

“I never really thought of myself as an artist,” says Samuel. “But that has changed as I have gotten older. I don’t consider myself an artist by what I create but rather the way I think.”

She expects monetary success would come easier if she made her most popular pieces over and over again. But Samuel isn’t wired that way—compelled to take a hammer to the familiar, the comfortable and the prosaic.

“I’m always searching,” says Samuel.

The bus pulls up outside the studio door. The group is visiting a sampling of studios and wineries on their two-day sojourn to the County. Most are from Toronto. They soon fill Samuel’s studio. She graciously answers their questions and makes a few sales, some of which require struggling with the credit card machine. The bus rumbles to life and the William Morris Society group move obligingly toward the vehicle. Several pause to consider the horizon stretching many kilometres north and south.

It has been a good morning. But Samuel is already moving on. She has recently taken courses on casting—creating moulds for the molten glass— to create new shapes and forms. She has acquired a casting furnace.

She is beginning to move away from creating art for the sake of beauty toward a more political aesthetic. She has ideas about the walls we build between us and the way they can degrade humanity.

These ideas require expression. Samuel reaches for the hammer.


26 Atlantic Crossings

Art, by its nature, can be a form of exhibitionism, of baring one’s soul. The work can be intimate in subject and personal in commentary, but eventually, it will be put on display—exposed to praise, criticism or worse, indifference.

Imagine the anxiety and vulnerability then, of the visual artist whose freshly created piece is transmitted across an ocean to serve as inspiration for a work of prose or poetry by an accomplished writer—but whose identity remains hidden.

Such is the premise of 26 Atlantic Crossings a unique collaborative exercise between artists in Prince Edward County and group of writers from the United Kingdom and Ireland known as 26—the number of letters in the English alphabet.

Founded by John Simmons more than a decade ago, 26 is a collective of writers seeking to “spread ideas about the joy of language and good writing and get the wider world to have a better appreciation of words and language in everyday use.”

Included in the collective are laureates, novelists and professional writers earning a living by the words they put on paper.

26 may be best known in the UK and Ireland for its unique and unusual writing challenges. 26 Malts asked members to write a sestude (62 words) in contemplation of a Scotch Malt Whiskey assigned to them. Another event tasked 26 writers to compose a 62-word comment inspired by Peter Rabbit, or one of 25 other characters from the StoryMuseum in Oxford.

Sixty-two words is a contrivance, forcing the writer to be concise and disciplined in their wordsmithing. It is also the reverse of 26.

Faye Sharpe is a writer and member of 26. Her sister, Joanna McFarland lives and paints in Wellington. Earlier this year, Wendy Matthews approached McFarland, hoping to recruit her into the Studio Tour in September.

Matthews was eager for a fresh new way to raise awareness of the Studio Tour, the annual celebration of the art and artists in the County. Meanwhile McFarland and Sharpe were cooking up an idea.

Matthews began to scout for 26 artists willing to participate—willing to expose themselves to the interpretation and contemplation of their work by strangers living 3,500 kilometres away. Meanwhile, Sharpe took the proposal back to her group in the UK and Ireland.

In no time at all, a roster of artists and writers had agreed to join up including 26 founder, John Simmons.

Artists had until late April to create their work. Each piece was photographed and sent to the assigned 26 writer. The wordsmiths were given contact information for the artist—should they have questions about the work, inspiration or process. The artists were given only the name of the writer preparing a sestude about their work.

At the end of June the writerly works were completed. Matthews hand delivered the crafted prose to the nervous artists.

Simmons was paired with Douglas Thompson of Wilson Road, who has gained acclaim for his paintings often featuring a big, evocative sky. Simmons was flying over the Great Lakes, returning from a conference, when he was inspired to write his composition in contemplation of Thompson’s work.

“He was in Doug’s clouds,” McFarland wryly observes.

Kirei Samuel creates wildly imaginative works in glass from her studio, Lalaland, north of Bloomfield. She was deeply concerned her 26 writer would miss the allusion of her work—a stylized wave of water—to the Atlantic Crossing theme. She needn’t have worried.

“I can’t believe this—it is so right,” Samuel says after reading her sestude.

Already, deeper connections are beginning to form between participating artists and writers. In fact, at least one writer plans to visit their companion artist during the Studio Tour this fall.

Before then, however, all 26 pieces of art and their sestudes will be presented and offered for sale at a special exhibition at Books & Company. The exhibition opens on Friday August 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. and runs through the weekend.

Then on September 19 and 20, the Prince Edward County Studio Tour will throw open studio doors across the County.