Cover photo by Christine Fitzgerald.
The ghostly docks in Christine Fitzgerald’s images are slipping away as time passes. They spoke to me of the sometimes fleeting memories we etch into the land, as we try to conquer nature only to have it ease us back into the sands of time.” – Bill Staubi

Six artists explore the connection between Land and Memory in a group exhibition at Studio 66, which opens Friday, January 11. Art connoisseur Bill Staubi had the opportunity to view in advance some images from the show, and receive their comments on the work that will appear in ‘Land and Memory’.

Through the tensions created by combining the work of six very talented photographers, painters, and sculptors, Land and Memory hopes to draw viewers into a nuanced experience of our relationship with the lands we impact, imagine, and remember.

Art review: What to expect

Leslie Hossack, Christine Fitzgerald, Manon Labrosse, Troy Moth, Patrice Stanley, and Remi Thériault are about to combine talents in a show that I expect will contrast the romance of a heroic landscape with the scars left behind on a field where heroic actions happened. What follows are my impressions and expectations of the show based on what was shared.

It will remind us of time, ever marching forward as it erodes the present, while also preserving the past lest we forget monumental events that shape us to the present day. I sense that it will help viewers reflect on the damage done by man and nature, as well as the opportunities for beauty in the refuse leave behind. It is a weighty expectation to place on one show, but the array of works Carrie Colton has assembled seem poised to deliver.

Images from the exhibit

Land and Memory clearly urges us to think about the impact of the land on us, calling forward both the personal memories and events that take place in the world. For example, standing before Patrice Stanley’s paintings will evoke in some a holiday horizon, a storm at sea from a cruise, or reminded of an imaginary scene from a treasured book, movie, or dream.

I felt the powerful and expansive vistas, real and imaginary, of Stanley’s paintings want to show us how small we are in the terrifying and splendid vastness of the world.

Noctilucent by Patrice Stanley

Manon Labrosse uses the same medium to take us in a close and intimate exploration of nature; trying to make sense after a storm.  The vibrant colours in Labrosse’s paintings contrast the post-storm rainbows. It brings to mind the feeling of pushing leafy branches aside in a woodland exploration with the might of nature unleashed.

 

The disintegrating remnants in Fitzgerald’s Dock #13 (cover image) evoked for me the passage of time and the power of natural elements against our man-made intrusions into the landscape.

The works serve too as portals to sublime and noble worlds that invoke our imagination and the creativity the land affords us. They echo the transformation possible in our natural environment, our cities, cultures, and personal lives. Like puzzle pieces, I might try to reposition Troy Moth’s sculptures back into the natural elements from which they came, as my mind adjusts to plant them as new memories of the objects Moth saw within them. It appears Moth had scouted the forests of Vancouver Island to create enduring objects of beauty out of the bits we had left behind after our presence there.

Standing Figure 08 by Troy Moth

Some of the work can be seen as a cautionary tale about the power of nature, time, and human activity.

Hossack’s documentary photos from Israel and Palestine appear to speak with Thériault’s images of Canadian battlefields at Vimy asking us to look beyond the manicured or pastoral to the scars beneath the soil or buried deep in the lives of the inhabitants.  Thériault’s ploughed landscape in Loss 1 and 2, the absent buildings and paved lines of Hossack’s image from Kosovo haunt with the question “Did you know what happened”?

 

From Cities of Stone People of Dust – Ancient Palestine and Modern Israel by Leslie Hossack
Vimy Memorial by Remi Therialut

 

Closing thoughts

Land and Memory will take viewers beyond the very real issues of climate change that dominate our thoughts about the land and landscapes these days. In seeing the full show, I anticipate viewers will have the opportunity to explore the work’s relationship to the land in a broader way, reflecting on the way we mark the land and the land marks us; to see the land not just as necessary to our future but also documenting our past; and to be re-inspired by the land in our imagination and creativity. It is certain to be an exhibition that will be memorable.

Catch Land and Memory between January 11 – March 3, 2019. The vernissage will take place on January 11, 2019, from 6-9 PM on at Studio 66.
Studio 66 is located in the Glebe at 858 Bank St, suite 101, 2nd level