Ms. Barbara E. Mercer;
The Comforting Image, The Mystic Word
 
Realisation of the moment as the mother of all things is an idea present in the Nordic spiritual traditions, which influence the rich, complex writing and painting of Cabbagetown's Barbara E. Mercer. "I awoke from a dream in my antique, carved bed. In the dream I had been lifted up and out into the night sky with full moon and stars. The feeling was one of joyous renewal. the decision to paint this experience was spontaneous on waking. The bed demanded to be alizarin crimson - blood red."

Her works, both written and painted are exhibited, published and collected internationally. Ms. Mercer's paintings have been presented at the 2003 Florence Biennale, Page Fine Art Gallery in Cornwall, UK, The Soul Gallery in New York, The Scandinavian Shield Exhibition in Sweden and frequently at The Arts and Letters Club in Toronto. In 2006 her digital works will be presented at Miad Venado Tuerto Digital Exhibition International, in Argentina. Ms. Mercer has been the subject of many reviews, articles and publications and in 1981 was featured in a documentary of her work "The View from Vinegar Hill" a CBC production.

Born in Galt (now Cambridge) Ontario, Mercer found encouragement and support for her creativity very early in life. "I knew I wanted to be an artist but I had no idea one could make a living from art." She began her process of education by taking classes and diligently copying Old Masters' drawings.  Her determination to succeed brought her to Toronto then in 1962, she traveled to New York City. Her first job there was painting portraits for customers at O'Henry's restaurant in Greenwich Village. She returned to Toronto and experienced a number of career changes; finisher/restorer, scenic painter, prop builder, prop and costume designer, makeup artist for film and television, for prestigious employers such as The Canadian Opera Company, CBC and The National Ballet of Canada.

Through a succession of gallery exhibits and fortuitous happenings, Ms. Mercer was able to gain increasing recognition and support for her paintings. While working at TVO, she was commissioned to paint a large portrait of the crew. Harold Town, who was in the green room saw the finished piece, loved it and negotiated a trade, painting for painting with Mercer. Her exhibit at The Bau-Xi Gallery in 1981 was a sell-out and garnered her significant notice and sparkling reviews.

Her more recent painting style, straight ahead and womanly, draws one into "Dreams of The Night" a series of paintings that deeply explore her personal symbolic language and portray her hand-carved bed in various altar-like configurations. "My secrets are in those paintings, people couldn't possibly know the passions. Everything I do on canvas is a love affair." The painting "Source of Dreams" refers directly to the place from which those pieces were generated, the sacred space between waking and sleeping, between the conscious and the unconscious. "However," she attests, "my symbolism does not render my experience, it suggests it."

"Mystic Wills" her recently published collection of poems includes moving works that touch upon metaphysical subject matter, reflections of natural beauty and the mysteries of the poet's life. Her written works are also read and viewed globally on the World Wide Web. Ms. Mercer feels it was the Internet that allowed her to get her work out to the world. "Peoples' response to my website, resulted in many invitations to exhibit internationally and from India, a wonderful publisher for my book."
 

As for advising aspiring artists, Ms. Mercer suggests, "Do anything to get involved creatively- perhaps start in a theatre group, helping out with painting scenery. She adds, "I've been very lucky, you know. I've never applied for a grant. I don't take commissions, I demand complete freedom in my painting." Finally asked if the ever-present moon still inspires her, she replied smiling, "Yes, the moon tells me to "Work, Work, Work!"

"Mystic Wills; Selected Poems by Barbara Elizabeth Mercer" is available thru the author at www.barbaraemercer.com and cyberwit.net, in India.