Reece Terris

On Friday September 19th, 2014, my class took a field trip to Creative Mornings-Vancouver, presented by IDS West. The featured presenter was Reece Terris, an artist, designer, sculptor, photographer, builder, and installation artist. His theme was “Process”.

After being served breakfast bagels, juice and coffee, we began the session with a group exercise to warm up. The purpose of the exercise was to meet people by starting a story with the words “once upon a time…” After those words are spoken, each person in the group says one word building upon what the previous person in the group said. The exercise creates an environment for creativeness and inventiveness. It was funny, lighthearted and allowed me to meet two students from the SFU film program.

From the moment Reece took the microphone, I knew I liked him. A mellow, mature and passionate individual discussed how he would get from ‘a to b’ in his work, but emphasized that the process is mostly about the in-between moments. He related his past experiences in growing up, school, work, travel and life; and that “it’s all about life experience”. My classmates and I smiled at one another; we all liked what he was telling us. He talked about how he learned through doing and by building muscle memory. Reece highlighted his childhood growing up in Port Coquitlam in the 19—‘s when it was mostly bush. His friends and him were doing and making, using locally “acquired” construction materials and simple trial and error. Later in life, this led him to carpentry and trying to make money at it; something which was very physically demanding. Mr. Terris then travelled through Europe, taking a time out to think, rest and take care of himself. He decided to go to school at Simon Fraser University, which brought him awareness.

Reece showed pictures of and commented on seven of his projects. He reiterated a statement I’ve heard from my teachers several times, that “proper documentation is key”.

Union Gospel –He removed the anti-loitering stones embedded in the concrete and replaced it with smoothed out concrete slab. He also installed an awning around the building to keep individuals sheltered from the Vancouver rain. This seamed like a construction job more than an art piece but none-the-less had a huge impact on the users of the building. I originally thought of him as an elaborate artist but the things he did at this building were both aesthetic and practical.

American Standard – In this building he paid homage to Marcel Duchamp (I believe that’s who he referenced, I didn’t write down the name) and his urinal fountain. In a public washroom, he did an art installation of fifteen urinals mounted in a triangle on the wall. Water cascades down, overflowing on the floor. I appreciated this piece for the time it took to conceive, plan and execute and his competence as a builder. All the plumbing was up to code, installed perfectly and functioning. He also documented his process extremely well and that led me to respect his work more.

Bridge – In East Vancouver, he built an arched bridge between two homes, his and his neighbours. This was very cool to look at, his skill as a builder makes him a stunning artist. Mr. Terris said he would come home to people crawling all over the bridge, his house and roof. This installation was about the “crossing of a boundary”. We put up these fences and build borders and create false security.

Interior Views – As a contractor and builder, he would do many jobs where homes were being renovated and updated. He began collecting all these building materials in his Uncle’s empty turkey barns. Reece was looking into moments and places in flux. Where there had been no change in the materials, just a change in thinking. He presented these retro time period “rooms” in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s rotunda, up six floors. Of everything he presented, I liked this one the most. I love interior design from the past decades and because the work made such a comment on our “throw-away” society.

Ought Apartment – Reece said we as a culture are stuck in the process of using new materials, he reverse engineered where he’s going. Not letting the design dictate the materials but the materials dictate the design. This was an eye opener because of my interest in interior design and because the materials are still perfectly usable, they have just lost their relevance over time.

The Western Front Front – I’ve been inside of this building and I really like the worn floors, small bathrooms and retro colours. It feels like stepping back in time. He used boom town architecture to build an upper façade and a boardwalk on the side walk. None of this installation was permanent and the city made him remove the boardwalk quite quickly.

Good-Bye Work – This was the final installation he presented to the group at Creative Mornings-Vancouver. Several artists were commissioned to work on this building. He repositioned the letters in the Globe Dye Works company sign and spelt “good-bye work”. Reece used the art deco letter over the entrance awning to confirm the statement. This piece commented on the global economy and future of local North American businesses as Chinese and Indian market continue to grow and shut down more and more institutions.

He left us with some notes and comments, which I hastily jotted down:

– know your/have reasons for doing things

– work with people

– don’t always ask permission

– just say it and do it

– situationists theory

– trust yourself enough and fool yourself when you need to.

Overall I enjoyed the morning experience and his presentation on his pieces and concepts. I will be looking for his future work.



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