Martha Townsend


Since she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1978, Martha Townsend’s work has been shown in numerous Canadian museums and galleries. She has created several public art pieces, notably at the McGill University Health Centre and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.



In Martha Townsend’s work, material, form, and volume are combined to create a meditative environment. Her works consist of simple forms whose symmetrical geometry is soothing and easily grasped. Though circles and spheres have been abiding motifs throughout her art practice, squares and rectangular prisms have become increasingly present in recent works. The artist’s process has often involved the participation of skilled collaborators such as experts for cabinetry, building, and finishing to help embody her concepts. As a sculptor, she is interested in how materials and forms influence the public spaces we use and the personal ones we inhabit. For her, far from being mute, objects in the built environment speak to our senses and intellect and hold an impact on the quality of our experience.

Laminoir : Martha Townsend chez Molinari, 2018 (view of the installation amongst paintings by Molinari)


The artist plans to make two cumulative works, both based on the simple form of the square in order to create an interior space that feels personal, enveloping, and conducive to reflection. Sculpture is perceived as the viewer walks around it; in this project, however, the art wraps around the viewer. Arranging the drawing and sculptures around the periphery of the space emphasizes the experience of containment. A number of 5-inch plywood cubes are disposed along a narrow shelf completely surrounding the studio and defining its perimeter. The other work is a two-dimensional mural composed of recycled paper squares. The method is much like piecing a quilt. This traditional women’s craft carries connotations of comfort and creativity while being useful and accessible.