As one half of Orphx, Christina Sealey has been creating, alongside Rich Oddie, a unique mix of rhythmic noise, techno and industrial since the mid-1990s. However, music isn’t the only avenue for expressing her creativity.
She studied art at McMaster University and Dundas Valley School of Art and holds a Masters of Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art, UK, and her paintings have been displayed in Canada and the UK, including the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Frederick Horsman Varley Gallery, Bau-Xi Galleries, Toronto and Vancouver, and the Royal Overseas League in London, England, among others.
She's also worked with Naomi Hocura on a project called In The Loop, an entirely free program aiming to teach electronic music to young women.
Today, Christina delivers New Brvtalism No. 147, a cathartic mix showcasing a duality that permeates both her sonic world and that of her paintings. We also sat down with her to discuss more about her work as a painter, her influences and more (see below).
The Brvtalist: Hi Christina, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. For those not familiar with your work outside the music realm, you are also a painter and an art teacher. Tell us when you decided to become a painter and what drove towards art.
Christina Sealey: I was always creating both art and music – I love the act of creation, building layers of colour or sound. I have never been a very good oral or written communicator so art and music were my preferred modes of expression. I guess I made a commitment to art when I chose to attend university for a degree in fine art over my other focus, which was biology.
TB: What are your sources of inspiration when painting?
CS: I spend time reading and looking at other images but most of my my painting is influenced by my experiences, mainly the interaction between people and place. My recent paintings are based on an exploration of “darkness” or “night”.
TB: I recently read a book called “Daily rituals: How artists work” which details the way famous artists, philosophers, scientists, etc. went about their daily work and the habits which helped them achieve their goals. Is there a specific routine you're following everyday you need to work on your art or music?
CS: I wish I had a magic routine that I could follow…I am always recording notes on things that I see or experience that could lead to a new idea but I do those sorts of things in the moment rather than in a schedule. In terms of daily work I am more typically responding to various deadlines as my schedule is usually a bit overloaded. These would be deadlines for releases, commissions, exhibitions etc. that force me to get them done.
TB: This is a classic question, but do you think that art, and painting in particular, requires talent or is more about skill and hard work? Or maybe a bit of both.
CS: I would definitely say a bit of both. Talent can be an initial starting point but I think that like anything hard work is required to take it further. Every time I think that I figure something out I realize that there are a number of new ideas or techniques to explore.
TB: In her book “The Artist's Way”, Julia Cameron talks about the artist date, a practice meant to be done alone, with the purpose of firing up the imagination of creative people, from simply watching a movie or going to a museum to visiting an art supply shop or even joining an art class. What do you think about this idea?
CS: I don’t have a regularly scheduled artist date but I agree with the idea. I usually find myself going out for a walk or run when I am having trouble completing something or to gather inspiration. I often feel that I don’t have time for those breaks but they end up happening regardless out of necessity whether I plan them or not.
TB: In a recent interview, you mentioned that you goal is “to create an image that elicits a response in the viewer that is not wholly reliant on the observational elements”. Was this always your approach or does it change depending on your emotional state?
CS: I think that my approach is often dependent on my emotional state and experiences just as a viewer looking at or listening to so something at different moments in their life will derive different things from one particular piece of art or music.
TB: Some paintings, like “Suspension” or “Threshold” for instance, seem to be divided into two worlds, not necessarily in opposition, but rather different. Is this intentional, do these parallel worlds represent something?
CS: Most of my paintings have a dualistic quality to them – whether it is division of space and stylistic approach as in these two paintings or a contrast between some elements of rest and chaos with in the paintings or a battle between abstraction and representation. Perhaps the dualistic quality represents different aspects of a given moment depending on the observer – with the Suspension painting I liked the contrast between this very still and quiet moment at night and the potential impact of the swimmer in the water – it could also be applied the many moments of indecision that I find myself in.
TB: Building up on this somehow dualistic view of your paintings, I sometimes get the feeling that your paintings embody a slightly warmer side of your personality, while the music counterbalances with a more rough outlook. How do you reconcile the visual and audio aspects of your work? Do they complement each other or do you prefer to keep them separated?
CS: I have created some shows that have made use of both my art and music and I am hoping to do this more, but they often end up separate. I generally see my paintings as pretty dark though not aggressive. I enjoy the cathartic aspects of music creation and especially live performance however painting is a much slower and contemplative process so I think that is part of the reason why the results end up so different.
TB: As someone who creates art, but also teaches it, what advice would you give to someone who’s just at the beginning of the journey?
CS: Sometimes I still feel like I am at the beginning of my journey….but for new artists I think that my main advice would be: perseverance (there will always be highs and lows), take risks (experiment and allow yourself to make mistakes) and be open to new ideas but try to stay true to your personal vision rather than becoming swept up by current trends.
TB: Are there any artists you feel especially excited about at the moment, not only music-wise?
CS: Musically, I am pretty excited about Canadian throat singer and musician, Tanya Tagaq. I was lucky enough to see her Polaris prize performance and have been impressed with everything that she has done since then. As for art, I was a visiting artist at the University of Guelph, where I had the chance to see the beautiful paintings of local artist, Ambera Wellmann for her Masters thesis and have been watching her work since then. One of my current favourite international artists is installation artist, Olafur Eliasson.
TB: Finally, tell us a bit about this mix. Was there a specific idea you had in mind or a particular story you wanted to create?
CS: You mentioned the duality in some of my paintings. I also like to create these contrasts with sound so this mix has some of that aspect to it.
Thank you to Christina Sealey for the mix and taking the time to speak with us.
Tanya Tagaq – Aorta
Kaltes and Nene H. – Persist (Christina Sealey remix – edit)
Denise Rabe – Before I Fall
Rrose – Nest of Queens
Broken English Club – Breaking the Flesh
Tzusing - 日出東方 唯我不敗
Regis - Blood Witness
Orphx – Transmutation
Gil Mellé – Andromeda Strain – Hex
Ursula Bogner – Uranotypie
Pharmakon – Sleepwalking Form
ANFS – Rashad
TYVYT-IYTYI – Crashing
Fever Ray – This Country (Paula Temple Remix – instrumental)
Beta Evers – Move in My Body Rhythm
In Aeternam Vale – Dave
Vril - Portal 2
BMB – Splinter
Antenes – Dream Uncreates the Land
Marie Davidson – Interfaces
Pan Dailing – Plate of Order
Rebekah – Into the Black
Pan Sonic - Pyokki Halko
Paka - Nil