Sept. 25, 2018

Art exhibition explores pressing issues affecting the environment

Nickle Galleries launches fall season and fresh lineup of free lunchtime events

Author

Marina Fischer, Libraries and Cultural Resources

Coral Project (work in progress, detail), 2018.

Coral Project (work in progress, detail), 2018.

John Freeman

Marine debris and re-used materials dominate the artwork in the new exhibition at Nickle Galleries, opening this Thursday, Sept. 27. Mutation of the Commons features the work of Edmonton-based artist Lyndal Osborne. The exhibition features a survey of Osborne’s installations created between 1996 and 2018 and is her first major Calgary exhibition in over a dozen years.

Osborne says she is deeply concerned with the destruction of our planet and troubled by rapid urbanization, shrinking rural communities, seed diversity, GMO engineering in agriculture and the loss of Australia’s coral reefs. She sees these issues as directly affecting her at different times in her life — as an adolescent growing up in Australia and now, living in what was once the outskirts of Edmonton.

To Osborne, global issues are connected to local interpretations through the raw materials and processes she uses. Her environmental concerns are eloquently expressed in Mutation of the Commons.

“In all of my work,” says Osborne, “whether drawing, working on a lithographic stone or developing sculptural installations, the natural world has always been central to me. Since childhood, I have collected materials from nature wherever I lived. These collections became the materials that I turned to for both visual inspiration and for the creation of three-dimensional forms.”

“We are so fortunate to be able to work with Lyndal Osborne,” says exhibition curator Michele Hardy. “Her work is concerned with very serious environmental issues but presented in ways that encourage engagement and reflection. To borrow from the late John Berger, the exhibition offers different ways of looking at and thinking about our place in the world.”

Osborne is a kind of archaeologist, forever collecting, cataloguing and curating objects found in nature. Many of her sculptures and installations are made from organic materials such as seedpods, plant roots, dried fruit skins, stalks, and shells.

Shoalwan: River Through Fire, River of Ice, 2003.

Shoalwan: River Through Fire, River of Ice, 2003.

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

To complement natural and foraged materials, other materials are re-used, such as discarded wire, laboratory glassware and equipment, scrap plastic, and papier-mâché. Osborne likes to combine materials in unexpected ways so that they develop new metaphorical meanings quite separate from their original histories.

“In the pieces Shoalwan and Tracing Tides, I have included marine debris alongside naturally occurring materials,” explains Osborne. “This reflects on our disposable culture but in the case of Shoalwan, viewers often comment that the floating forms suggest the North Pacific Gyre’s floating trash vortex that breaks down into smaller pieces that endanger marine life. Often I find that the interaction of viewers and their response to the work mirrors my own sense of how the work came to be created and constructed.”

Lyndal Osborne was born in Newcastle, Australia. She studied at the National Art School in Sydney and received her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Osborne is a professor emeritus in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Alberta. She has been exhibiting in Canada and internationally since the early 1970s, showing in more than 350 exhibitions.

An illustrated exhibition catalogue with critical essays by Natalie Loveless and Michele Hardy as well as a foreword by Robert R. Janes will accompany the exhibition.

Mutation of the Commons is on display in Nickle Galleries until Dec. 15, 2018. Talks and gallery tours by the artist will take place as part of the weekly Nickle at Noon lecture series, which features presentations by a range of experts from campus and the wider community on a variety of art-related topics.

Curtain of Life, 2016.

Curtain of Life, 2016.

Vernon Public Art Gallery. Photo by Josh Palmer

Public Opening Reception

Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018

5 to 8 p.m.

Gallery Hall, Taylor Family Digital Library

 

Natalie Loveless: Mutations in the Anthropocene

Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018

Noon to 1 p.m.

Gallery Hall, Taylor Family Digital Library

 

Lyndal Osborne: Exhibition Tour

Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018

Noon to 1 p.m.

Nickle Galleries, Taylor Family Digital Library

 

Pamela Banting - H2Ocean: The Wet Ontology and Blue Ethics of Sue Goyette’s Ocean

Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018

Noon to 1 p.m.

Gallery Hall, Taylor Family Digital Library