In their words: Conversations with Writing Topography artists—#07: Anna Torma

Beaverbrook Art GalleryNovember 17, 20150 Comments

Over the next several weeks, we will be posting interviews with artists currently featured in the Gallery’s Writing Topography exhibition. These interviews were conducted by Rebecca Goodine, a university student participating in an internship at the Gallery. These interviews present artists talking about themselves and their work in their own words. Interviews were conducted with the artists by email, and have been lightly edited for grammar and flow (occasionally, questions and responses have been removed). At the end of interviews, we’ve included some links to provide a bit more information about a topic or theme from the interview; these links have been chosen by us, and were not provided by the artists.

Anna Torma

Photo: Roger Smith


My work always contains a surprising effect, coincidences and randomness that I like to use after I’ve designed the main parameters of the project.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your artistic practice.

I’ve been working as a freelance visual artist since my graduation at the MOME, Budapest, Hungary in 1970. First I worked in Budapest, then in 1988 I immigrated to Canada with my family and I continued my practice in Hamilton, Ontario and in Baie Verte, New Brunswick since 2002. My art practice is craft based; I work with textiles, often making hand embroidered wall or installation pieces.

How would you describe your work in the exhibition?

RANDOM LANDSCAPE is an installation work from 3 pieces. Each piece has several layers, hanging at the middle of the exhibition place, well lit and visible from the front and back.

Can you tell us about the process of creating the work in the exhibition?

I am delighted that the Marion McCain exhibit series is re-established at the Beaverbrook [Art Gallery]. I think this is an important joint project for all Atlantic Provinces to show how the area’s contemporary art is developing.

What was the inspiration for this work?

Landscape is my long time interest. I take it in a broad sense; cultural landscape, rural and cultivated, from the undisturbed nature to refined gardens... Humans as a biological specimen and cultural, social participants of the inhabited land.

What was the development process like from your initial idea to the finished work?

My work always contains a surprising effect, coincidences and randomness that I like to use after I’ve designed the main parameters of the project.

What is it you hope for the viewer to discover or consider through this work?

I hope it is a continuous play and discovery for every viewer to figure out how the different layers interfere with each other, and the meaning of text fragments and half figurative drawings on the transparent surfaces.

What do you find most compelling or enjoyable about this particular work?

I am fascinated by the unfinished feeling that it generates in me, it makes me want to work more and get new variations for this theme without interruption.

How does your work connect with broader themes?

I think through the use of embroidered lines… sensibly they can be drawings. Using soft transparent textile material as a base, they are craft objects… using textile cut outs in some surfaces, they can be seen as collages.

What are your larger thoughts on the themes of the Writing Topography exhibit, and how it relates to your piece?

I was happy to be a part of a young and fresh visual artist’s group chosen by Corinna Ghaznavi. The title (of the exhibit) and the whole project was comfortable for my creativity. I was especially satisfied to be able to make a piece which can be seen as textile art*, a marginal art form in many cases, but the Beaverbrook exhibit gave it a highlight through my work, I think.

The layering of your embroidery on the multiple silk screens creates such an amazing, interconnected and fantastical looking piece. What is it that first introduced you to using such an interesting artistic medium? What about it continues to capture your fascination, as it seems to through the larger body of your work?

As I mentioned already, I like the ephemeral and delicate feeling what this type of work can generate. I also like the unfinished, temporary relation despite the high quality execution as a handmade textile object. The temporary feeling of my artwork is always paralleled with the temporariness of the whole world in my practice.

What does ‘creativity’ mean to you?

I think creativity is the most important human value what we can nurture and develop through many exercises, and art is one of the best ones. Teach kids art!

What kinds of things do you find helpful as sources of inspiration?

Life itself: suffering and happiness, lack of things, excess of things, everyday life, big moments, biology, flora and fauna, science and genetics, food, garden, kids, art, art in the museums, art with kids and naive makers, art in my studio sink myself into the making process and forget myself.

What advice do you have to give to new and aspiring artists?

Do it every day, do it full time, make a living as an artist. The world needs good art.

Learn more about...

Textile Arts (Wikipedia)

Artist bio

Anna Torma was born in Tarnaors, Hungary, and graduated with a degree in Textile Art and Design from Budapest’s Hungarian University of Applied Arts (1979). She has been an exhibiting artist since that time, producing mainly large-scale hand-embroidered wall-hangings and collages. She immigrated to Canada in 1988 and has lived and worked in Baie Verte, New Brunswick, since 2002. Torma has exhibited her work internationally and is represented in public collections, including those at the Museum of Art and Design (New York City), Foreign Affairs Canada, msvu Art Gallery (Halifax), and Mint Museum (Charlotte, North Carolina). Anna Torma is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and a recipient of the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for High Achievement in Visual Arts.

About the Exhibition

Writing Topography runs September 26, 2015 through January 10, 2016. The exhibition is organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and made possible with the generous support of the McCain Family, the Harrison McCain Foundation, and the McCain Foundation. Admission is FREE for Beaverbrook Art Gallery members and for children age six and under. More information on memberships and benefits can be found on our website at Featured artists include: Robert Bean, Gerald Beaulieu, Jennifer Bélanger, Rémi Belliveau, Jordan Bennett, Kay Burns, Amanda Dawn Christie, Richard Davis, Leah Garnett, Pam Hall, Mark Igloliorte, Navarana Igloliorte, Ursula Johnson, Philippa Jones, Stephen Kelly, Eleanor King, Fenn Martin, Michael McCormack, Kim Morgan, Nigel Roe, Sara Roth, Anna Torma, Gerald Vaandering, and Kim Vose Jones.

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