(Sponsored by the Ontario Arts Council)
In this body of work, I presented a series of paintings that attempted to capture that we, due to nature and technology, reside in a global landscape. These works combined iconography acquired from the media, with journal writings and photos taken during a 24-day trip to France.
The canvases are extremely layered in meaning like most landscapes. In the background, I painted pastoral scenes of French foliage in sepia tones to capture the romantic ideal I had of the French countryside prior to my visit. I could not help but chuckle as I meandered amidst a very similar geography to that of my own residence in South Western Ontario, and continued to smirk as each local issue arose parallel to many issues that also cause strife back home.
To help visualize how we are all connected in a media driven world, I returned home and acquired the daily newspapers from the 24 days that I was away and worked with the headlines and images that officially documented things that I had been feeling, witnessing, or experiencing on another continent.
On top of the impressionistic landscapes, I juxtaposed images and text taken from articles that spoke to the reality of our global landscape. With each new encounter, my romantic notions of France began to fade, revealing the true landscapes; my landscapes. The black bars scratched into with journal writings share with the audience how I was often subconsciously aware or consequently affected by events, issues, emotions, and reactions, which take place half way across the world.
The small areas of stitching, speak to how we cannot separate the romantic, from the realistic or reflective landscapes we encounter, as experiences are inherently layered: Perceived, political and personal all at once.
"One can sit in a French field painting its beauty unaware of the world's need for beauty around you, unaware of the ugliness of war and environmental devastation. But, even though we are unaware of it we are the recipients or benefactors of both the world's blessings or its political choices. What we choose to do with our lives is political. We can retreat into the beauty or we can live as artists to awaken people to the beauty that needs to be celebrated, protected and restored. Artists, at their most authentic, are political beings."
Carol Kilby Irwin