ELLSWORTH — Imagine if you owned Salvador Dali’s most famous painting, “The Persistence of Memory,” and for fun could swap the gold pocket watch and face-down clock covered with ants? Or, move Edvard Munch’s howling figure in “The Scream” elsewhere on the bridge?
Orono painter Christina Thwaites invites you to do just that. The mother of two has created a body of work in which the viewer can literally play with the paintings’ composition and storylines. In “Enough to Share,” for instance, you can give the bearded, bib overall-clad fishermen each a salmon to hold or make the fish swim above their heads. Or, in “Two Sisters and a Chicken,” you can perch the chicken on one of the little girls.
Courthouse Gallery Fine Art invites folks to come and see for themselves “Christina Thwaites: Magnetic Paintings” on view in-person at 6 Court St. or virtually at courthousegallery.com through Oct. 30. Admission is free and open to the public. The British-born artist also will talk about her magnetic process and show how to interact with the paintings at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16, via the online conferencing platform Zoom.
Born in Sheffield, England, Thwaites holds a masters in French literature and art history from the University of Edinburgh. She went on to attend the École du Louvre in Paris, where she worked as an assistant to watercolorist Patrick Fouilhoux. She further honed her skills studying with the Italian artist Alberto Parres at la Porta Blu Studio in Rome. Since then, she has lived and painted on three other continents. Her travels have taken her to Walasiho, a remote village in Indonesia, and to the Al Fara refugee camp in Palestine.
Moving five years ago to Orono, where she paints and teaches from her basement studio, Thwaites began developing her interactive, magnetic medium in which “any person [even the non-artist!] can successfully engage in the creative process and communicate something of themselves through the work,” she writes on her website.
At the time, Thwaites’ two children were very young and she lacked the time and focus to tackle large compositions. She works in metallic paint and acrylic. In each painting, she makes certain elements magnetic so they can be positioned elsewhere on the wood board-backed pieces. She has found her new medium “addictive, playful and also highly challenging.”
Besides her own original work, Thwaites also creates magnetic murals and large-scale paintings.
To pre-register for the artist’s Sept. 16 talk, call 667-6611 or visit courthousegallery.com.