Marika Jemma: Enriched Bread in The Hague and in the 'hood

Marika Jemma. Photo by Ted Simpson
Found art, sculptural elements and the intriguing environment inspires Enriched Bread artist Marika Jemma who is participating in an artist exchange. Photo by Ted Simpson

Story and photos by Ted Simpson

On June 1 the Enriched Bread Artists of Gladstone Avenue opened their doors not only to the Ottawa public, but also to a group of artists from halfway around the world.

The EBA are presenting a special exhibit put together by artists who are on an exchange program from The Hague, Neatherlands.

The EBA studio is located in an industrial building just west of the O-Train tracks that originally served as a bread factory in the early part of the 20th century. The building transitioned into a printing house, clothing manufacturer, squat house and was eventually purchased in a state of total disrepair in 1992 by a group of ambitious young artists.

Through a magical act of synchronicity, in that very same year, in the city of The Hague, in the Netherlands, an old bread factory in shambles was also discovered and occupied by a group of ambitious young artists.

The two studios grew for over a decade oblivious of one another until 2009, when artist Petra Halkes of Hintonburg discovered the Dutch factory studio on one of her frequent trips to her home town of The Hague. After the two studios became aware of each other and their shared history, talk of an exchange program began. That plan is being realized this summer.

Beginning May 31, a group of artists from the Dutch studio, Quartair, began exhibiting their art at the EBA studio. The exhibit will run until June 10 and included special extended showings for the Doors Open Ottawa weekend, June 1-2.

“The theme is Dutch Settlement. They’ve done different takes on the word, so it could be anything. There is a video about dust settling,” says Halkes, of the work the Dutch artists plan to bring with them. The Dutch art includes painting, sculpture, installation and performance art. Though there is only so much that can be planned out from halfway across the world, “A lot of it is going to be a surprise for us… they’ve never seen this space,” says Halkes.

The second stage of the exchange will take place in August when 14 Enriched Bread Artists will make the trip to The Hague to present their work at Quartair. One of the artists participating in the exchange is Marika Jemma, a 15 year resident of Hintonburg and member of the EBA since 1998.

Photo by Ted Simpson
Marika Jemma’s art is mostly in the realm of sculpture and installation, but she’s work in “whatever medium best suits the idea.” Photo by Ted Simpson

Jemma’s art is mostly in the realm of sculpture and installation, but as she says, will work in “whatever medium best suits the idea.” The theme of the Dutch show is “interference;” the local artists will be covering the Dutch studio in Tyvek – a sort of felt paper in long rolls, and interacting with that as a way to interfere with the space.

“Some of the artists are bringing work… I’m not,” says Jemma. “I’m going there to do work with people in the community on a collaborative kind of piece, so I can’t describe what I’m going to do till I get there.”

One of the collaborative projects involves having children from the community here in Ottawa participate in a photography project that will be combined with photos from children in the Dutch community. Another project is what Jemma calls a “sound map” that associates locations with the sounds that surround them like the rumble of the O-Train, or the church bells at Fairmont and Wellington.

Dutch Settlement is open to the public daily from June 1 to 10 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Enriched Bread Artist Studio, 951 Gladstone Ave.

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