Medicine Hat Media

Two New Exhibitions Ponder: What Endures Over Time?

The Esplanade Art Gallery is proud to present its two new exhibitions until December 6, 2014: Deborah Forbes’ The Princess and the Plesiosaur and Shirley Brown’s Birds: The Apocalypse. There will be a public reception with the artists, and Downtown Art Walk’s Roving Reception, Friday, November 21 at 7 PM.

Deborah Forbes: The Princess and the Plesiosaur

Deborah Forbes’ small steel figures in classic ‘princess’ dresses made of lace, crochet and tatting move through a constellation of light cast onto the darkened gallery floor. The starry constellation takes the form of a plesiosaur fossil, with its background shifting through outer space, fire, water, and wind in grass. In this mysterious and magical environment the Medicine Hat artist and educator invokes the mantra that ‘nothing is lost’ throughout time: energy simply transforms from one state to another. Forbes’ installation interweaves the pioneering work of early 19th century female paleontologist Mary Anning in revealing and analyzing fossils, with the equally enduring icon of the princess in European history; with textile handiwork traditionally associated with women, and with the uses of children, especially girls, for economic gain through the centuries.

Deborah Forbes has presented her work in solo exhibitions in Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario and in group exhibitions throughout Canada, in the United States and the United Kingdom. She has received support for her work from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts including a Major Project Grant for the touring exhibition Shadow Princesses. She currently teaches in the Visual Communications and Education Programs at Medicine Hat College.

Shirley Brown: Birds: The Apocalypse

In 1996 rural Manitoba artist Shirley Brown found 29 bird skeletons in the old cook stove of her parent’s abandoned home. She explains that “the discovery of these beautiful creatures along with personal losses compelled me to investigate the brief and precarious nature of time… and allowed me to explore my strong fascination with unexpected disaster.” After paintings and drawings which pictured the birds as ancient beings from a lost civilization, Brown imagined the culture in which they may have lived, creating a whimsical contemporary museum display, maps and remnants of ‘armies’ from the bird civilization’s final apocalypse, as well as ossuaries and burial boxes. The exhibition’s poignancy, decorative beauty and dark humour provoke thoughts of human civilization and its many ruins and mysteries, through the passage of time. Shirley Brown is a self-educated artist, pursuing many workshops, residencies and classes with professional artists from 1987 to 2003, following a year-long mentorship with Diana Thorneycroft through the Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art Advisory Program, Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has exhibited her work in solo exhibitions throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, as well as in group exhibitions throughout Canada and internationally. Her work resides in public, corporate and private collections and has been supported by grants from the Manitoba Arts Council, the Banff Centre for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts.

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