Michelle Winkel (left) Kate Carson and Jenny Farkas show off their works made from Venetian plaster at the launch of their exhibit Polished! For the Love of Venetian Plaster at the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre’s main gallery.

Making old Venetian plaster new again

For Jenny Farkas, the saying what's old is new again has never been more true.

For Jenny Farkas, the saying what’s old is new again has never been more true.

For the past six years, the Victoria resident has been using the ancient medium of Venetian plaster to create pieces of art.

“It’s such a fascinating medium. It’s very physical, you’re wrestling the marble dust into submission,” Farkas laughed.

“There’s a whole bunch of working of the medium to get it to fully express its qualities.”

Venetian plaster, which is made from limestone and crushed marble dust, was used for centuries as an application on buildings in Venice, as a wall finishing or for interior decorating. In the 1500s, artist Michelangelo used it as a base for works of art. His technique was to apply it wet (freshly laid or fresco) and then use water and pigment to create his masterpieces.

Farkas originally came across Venetian plaster while at the Moss Street Paint-In. After going home later that night and watching dozens of YouTube video about it, Farkas was hooked. Since then, she has created dozens of pieces of artwork from Venetian plaster.

She uses several different containers of plaster, each of which are hand tinted with various colours, which are then worked onto a board to create shapes and textures.

Once the plaster has dried and hardened, it is sanded and burnished to a marble-like sheen, with the entire process taking a couple of weeks.

Farkas used to get Venetian plaster in buckets from Home Depot, however, the store no longer carries it so Farkas has it shipped to the Island from the United States.

“It’s very tactile. Once you put a lot of elbow grease into burnishing it, and polishing it, it has this incredible sheen and it’s just beautiful to the touch,” she said, adding people can touch the 2D paintings as well.

“It’s this incredible medium for taking up colour and creating these wonderful works of art that looks a lot like polished marble. It’s art that you can touch. You never get to touch art.”

In hopes of getting more residents interested in the old-yet-new art form, Farkas, along with artists Michelle Winkel and Kate Carson, have launched a new exhibit at the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre.

The exhibit, Polished! For the Love of Venetian Plaster, features roughly 50 paintings made from Venetian plaster by the three local artists.

“I think we’ve really sparked something here,” Farkas said, adding she hopes to learn how to make her own Venetian plaster in the future so other artists can experiment with it as well.

Polished! For the Love of Venetian Plaster can be found in the main gallery at the recreation centre (3220 Cedar Hill Rd.) until Aug. 31.