Haptic Splendour

For the past 15 years, I’ve painted opulent European 18th and 19th century interiors. Designed as theatrical displays of status and power by wealthy aristocrats and bourgeoisie, these formerly private sites are now museums, providing entertainment and pleasure for touristic consumption, while also opening up a space for philosophical contemplation.

Although I use photography as a structural device through which I enter the painting process, with each piece I always seem to arrive at a point of crisis where I need to break free from the tyranny of the image. Through partly destroying the image I discover fresh solutions to painterly problems I set for myself.

Throughout my childhood and into my mid-twenties, I was a ballet dancer. That intense training of spatial awareness and interpretive questioning is still deeply stamped in my DNA. A painting to me is a kind of choreography; there’s a haptic dance that takes place from my optical experience of an image, through to the way my nervous system signals to my body how to translate and record it. As painter/dancer I tease out meaning through working and reworking, coming up to speed as I gain understanding, and making the last strikes with absolute commitment.

A Passion for Design

Ainslie CyopicIn the 1990’s, when I was a dance videographer, I first knew Ainslie Cyopik as a sought-after dancer in Vancouver. A number of years later, I witnessed her retirement from professional dance and her beginnings as she started a small business designing dancewear.

dancers in AinsliewearHer success has been phenomenal, and her optimism and passion for what she does is a bit contagious when you meet her. The driving force behind AinslieWear, she has bridged the gap from professional dancer to professional designer. Having spent 15 years dancing with companies such the National Ballet of Canada and Ballet British Columbia, she often found the dancewear available didn’t quite fit right or meet the needs of long rehearsal days. Instead of “just making do”, she created a line of dancewear for herself with all the qualities she was looking for. Over the years, her reputation grew as a designer of dancewear clothing that not only looked great on, but was also made with a personal understanding of a dancer’s needs.

AW102A-Square-neck-velvet-frontCarrying on her love for the art of dance and a true passion for the grace of its practitioners, Ainslie started a business focusing on her design and development of dancewear on a full-time basis in 1997. Today, AinslieWear bodysuits, known for their exceptional quality and fabulous fit, are worn by leading dancers and students alike, from Paris to Tokyo.


At left  is Ainslie photographed in her first costume she made for herself at ballet school in her late teens. “I used two gorgeous dusty mauve shades of fabric and it flowed so well when I danced. I even kept a little piece of the fabric.”

More about Ainslie’s wonderful designs are on her website.