Photographer Luke Downs and painter Janice Erwin with their pieces for the Random Couplings exhibit at TOSH which will run from May 30 until June 18.

Random Couplings exhibit in Qualicum Beach

There will be an opening reception Wednesday, June 1 at 2 p.m. at TOSH

When Luke Downs and Janice Erwin received their words — ‘musical destruction’ — for TOSH’s Random Couplings exhibit, they both said they gravitated toward the same idea.

The Random Couplings exhibit puts a painter and a photographer together, giving them two words which they’re expected to create an interpretation from.

Downs, who is the photographer, said some of the word couplings seemed bizarre and completely unrelated.

“How they chose the two words — in some cases, you might almost think they stuck a pin in the dictionary,” Downs said.

After find out their random coupling of ‘musical destruction,’ Downs said he let the idea wander around his mind ay odd intervals in the past year since they received their words.

“Then I sort of thought, well musical destruction — it’s not quite the same thing, but it’s not so far from deconstruction,” Downs said.

From there, Downs said he got to work on his piece.

“Then I started deconstructing musical instruments in effect without actually doing so, of course,” Downs said. “But simply taking photographs of bits and pieces and going in close up on the sound hole of the guitar or the tuning pegs at the neck.”

He added there’s still a hint of recognizability within his piece. However, Downs said he realized he was missing something.

“Those were the instruments, but what I was missing was music,” said Downs, adding that he ended up going to a music show at TOSH where he took pictures of the sheet music.

Downs, who lives in Whiskey Creek, said the idea for a checkerboard came to him fairly late.

He said he was working with a slideshow program on the computer and he knew which photos he wanted to use. The photos, Downs said, came together quite well, but “it wasn’t destructive enough somehow.”

Then, Downs said he got the idea to use the shatter transition which he moved inch-by-inch until he got the effect he wanted.

For Erwin, who is the painter, she said music is something positive to her whereas destruction is something very negative. But she added she took the word ‘destruction,’ and realized it was sort of similar to the word ‘deconstruction.’

Erwin said she rolled around with the idea for a while, working with a sketchbook and creating thumbnails of her ideas.

“This is not like anything like my thumbnails were because they just evolved,” Erwin said about her piece, which she used layers of sheet music, musical theory terms and notations.

“I think that’s the thing about collage, you can tear these pieces and put them down and if you don’t like it, you can just pick it up and do another one in a different shape,” Erwin said.

Qualicum Beach resident Erwin said, for her, the challenge was creating something that wasn’t so realistic.

“How could I do it in a realistic interpretation, but reading the instructions we were given, I think Corinne (James) was looking for something more imaginative,” Erwin said. “So that was the challenge for me was to look at it differently than the way I would normally have chosen.”

Random couplings is an exercise in creative imagination, according to Corinne James, the executive director at TOSH.

“The word pairings, chosen at random, are designed to evoke out-of-the-ordinary visual images. The images that come to mind are a spring-board to visual creativity,” James said.

“It may be a literal interpretation of the word pairing, be associated with memory or be triggered by a feeling. The mind makes sense out of words that do not normally make sense when put together.”

This year’s Random Couplings exhibit will be displayed at TOSH (122 Fern Rd., Qualicum Beach) from May 30 to June 18. There will be an opening reception on June 1 at 2 p.m.

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