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‘Exquisite Corpse’ at Arts Centre

‘Exquisite Corpse’ at Arts Centre

nobile chWhat began with an invitation to tea has become the newest exhibit at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre, Exquisite Corpse. While artists Nadina Tandy and Donna Balma had known of each other professionally for many years, it was only in the fall of 2016 that a friendship began to take shape when Balma invited Tandy to tea. They agreed to exchange exquisite corpses, collaborative art pieces named and popularized by the Surrealists of the 1920s, though the form goes back to the ancient Egyptians. Tandy and Balma settled on a three part format: Taking a piece of paper and dividing it thirds, one would draw a head, cover their work but leave a few lines visible at the bottom and send it off to the other by mail. The receiving artist would then pick up on those lines, draw a torso, cover their work and send it back, again leaving something visible for the originating artist to pick up on to complete the drawing with the feet. The results are by turns humorous and serious, delightful and disconcerting.

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Nadina Tandy, left, and Donna Balma are exhibiting collaborative at the SC Arts Centre. Anna Nobile photo

Their work was never intended for exhibition, but when a scheduled artist had to cancel, an opportunity to show their exquisite corpses presented itself. “The work we’ve done is uninhibited and playful and for each other’s amusement,” says Tandy. “I didn’t edit myself the way I may have if I was preparing for an exhibition.” Balma agrees. “You think a bit more if you know you’re proposing an exhibition. Our aim was to think as little as possible and just work straight from whatever occurred.” That freedom from expectation led to more experimentation and inventiveness as the two artists found themselves propelled to create by their project. “Our imaginations are well matched,” observes Balma. “Sometimes we can’t tell who did what,” says Tandy. “It’s like we’re sharing a brain in some of them.”

The joy these artists found in making their exquisite corpses has garnered them positive feedback and international exposure. By posting some of their creations onto their Facebook pages, they’ve received invitations to exhibit in Minnesota and Peru. “This thing has had a life of its own,” remarks Tandy. “We’re getting a thrill out of surprising each other and we push each other.” Balma concurs. “It was really fun and exciting and we’re just going to keep doing them. We don’t know what will happen from here.”

Exquisite Corpse by Nadina Tandy and Donna Balma runs at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre until July 30. Meet the artists Saturday, July 15 from 1-3pm. Also showing Things With Wings by Melissa Tulloch. More information at

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The Roberts Creek mandala, a project that began as a way to cover over graffiti, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Community members are invited to join the painting of the mandala which begins at noon on July 17 and is expected to take three to four days. The Manna Festival, featuring musicians, DJs, dancing, along with craft, artisan and food booths, starts at noon July 23 to honour the newly painted mandala. All welcome. More information at:

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