Meet Linda Fairfield, artist and plant lover who set out to create an illustration of every single wildflower in Manitoba. She didn’t achieve her goal before she died last June but she left a treasure trove of absolutely lovely and unique paintings of our province’s native flowers. She called her collection ‘The Garden.” An exhibit of work from “The Garden” is now on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. It was curated by Nicole Fletcher.
I was drawn to Linda’s beautiful and delicate depiction of Manitoba’s floral emblem. I have learned that sadly the prairie crocus is dwindling in numbers in our province.
Linda traveled the province to discover wild flowers. She illustrated a book by Karen Johnson that catalogued the wildflowers of Churchill and the Hudson’ Bay Region.
Some of Linda’s illustrations highlight the parts of the plants- the leaves, blooms and roots.
In others Linda chooses to include a sketch of the habitat where the flower grows, perhaps where she discovered it.Quite a number of Linda’s illustrations are displayed alongsidespecimens of the flower from the University of Manitoba’s collection The Plants of Manitoba.
There are three special displays in the exhibit. One features Manitoba flowers that are edible.
Another flowers that are toxic and poisonous.
And finally one that showcases the beauty of Manitoba’s more than forty native species of orchids.
Linda’s obituary in the Toronto Globe and Mail says Linda worked at her wildflower project over a fifty year period. The recent donation of 233 of her illustrations to the Winnipeg Art Gallery by her family insures that Linda’s work will be treasured and appreciated by Manitobans for decades to come.
If you are longing to see the wild flowers of Manitoba bloom and spring just isn’t coming fast enough for you head over to the Winnipeg Art Gallery and get your flower fix in Linda’s Garden.
Moose Lake’s Wild Flowers
Portugal in Bloom
Flowers of Costa Rica
“It’s a Henry Moore. I am certain,” I said as I approached a sculpture on the grounds of Lisbon’s Museu Coleção Berardo. “How do you know?” my husband was skeptical. “We have a Henry Moore sculpture on display on the roof top of the Winnipeg Art Gallery every summer,” I said. It’s called Reclining Figure . I always get the kids on my tours to lie down and try to copy the statue’s form with their own bodies. “
Sure enough when I showed my husband the didactic panel on the sculpture at Lisbon’s modern art gallery it was a Henry Moore and it was called Reclining Figure too. My husband insisted on taking photos of me with the Moore sculpture his way!
I told Dave there was a Kent Monkman painting currently on display as part of the Insurgence/Resurgence exhibit at the Winnipeg gallery that includes a reference to Henry Moore.
Death of The Female by Kent Monkman- Notice the reclining figure like Henry Moore’s on the front yard of a house in Winnipeg’s north end
Inside the Lisbon art gallery I found another Henry Moore piece.
Stringed Figure by Henry Moore
The Henry Moore connection was just one tantalizing tidbit of the absolutely wonderful afternoon we spent at Lisbon’s Museu Coleção Berardo. It holds such a rich cache of modern art and on weekends which is when we visited it was FREE! I’ll share more in future blog posts.
Matching- The Winnipeg Art Gallery and The Nelson Atkins Museum
Whale Bone Sculptures
Kirchner- Finding An Old Friend
A jingle dress is featured in an artwork by Barry Ace in the current Insurgence/Resurgence exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. As I’ve been touring groups through the exhibit I have had quite a number of indigenous young women tell me they own a jingle dress. One of them said she and her mother were just in the process of making hers. I asked her where they got the jingles that adorn the dresses. She said shops in Winnipeg sold them. The jingles are metal cones that make a distinctive sound as the dancer moves. A typical jingle dress can have 300-400 of them.
Jingles on a dress at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary
I was keenly interested in a CBC news story last week that featured a 17 year old high school student from the Swan Lake First Nation in southern Manitoba named Émilie McKinney. Émilie is an accomplished hoop and jingle dancer who has toured North America. While making a jingle dress for herself she found out the jingles sold in Winnipeg were very expensive and were manufactured in Taiwan. Émilie thought the jingles should be more reasonably priced and should be made by indigenous people right here in Canada. So she decided to open a business that did just that. She hand rolls the jingles and stamps them with an emblem she designed herself that features a teepee, a feather, a medicine wheel and an open door. Émilie’s jingles are already being sold in five different stores and online. You can read more about her story here.
Ojibwa in Paris
That Looks Familiar
Gone But Not Forgotten
Hustle & Bustle /Downriver House by Bruno Canadien is one of the pieces currently on display in the Insurgence Resurgence exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Bruno Canadien lives in Alberta and is a member of a northern Dene First Nation in the Deh Gah Got’ı́é Kǫ́ę́, Deh Cho Region. His artwork contains images of his northern home. There are flowers, forests, caribou, fishermen, oil wells and smoke stacks.
One of the activities we do with gallery visitors after we look at Bruno’s artwork is have them make a similar collage about their home. They choose objects from trays we provide and place them on a colored paper in ways that represent home to them.
Last week I did the activity with group of international students that included a young woman from China. One item she chose for her collage was a picture of a phone. She told us in China she had wanted to be independent from her parents and resented having to still live in the same house with them. But now that she is far away in Canada she starts to cry whenever she talks to her parents on the phone because she misses them so much. As she told us this she started to cry and I had to reach out and give her a comforting hug.
I loved the way a young woman from Beijing was inspired to share her personal feelings, thanks to a painting by a Canadian indigenous artist. Art is truly a universal language.
Mennonite Floor Art
A Very Personal Story
Are You Confused Yet?
Look at those beautiful floors! In August of 2016 I toured the Friesen heritage house in the southern Manitoba village of Neubergthal with friends. I took the photo below of one of the floors in the home. It intrigued me.
I saw that same pattern recently when I visited the gift shop at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Neubergthal artist Margruite Krahn’s show Resurfacing: Mennonite Floor Patterns is currently on display and you don’t want to miss seeing her work. Margruite has been involved in the restoration of Neubergthal since 2001. Neubergthal is a Mennonite street village founded in 1876 and a national historic site. Margruite became fascinated with the beautiful patterns found hand painted on the wooden floors of the some of the oldest homes in the village.
Upstairs Bedroom by Margruite Krahn
These hand painted floor patterns were created by Mennonite women often during the long winter months. Floor painting is an art Margruite believes they brought over with them from Prussia when they migrated to Canada in the 1870s. Margruite decided to try to recreate some of the designs herself on cotton canvas. The results are beautiful but also completely practical. Although at the WAG gift shop the floor cloths are hung on the wall they are extremely durable and can be placed on the floor and used in a functional way.
Canvas carpet created in 2005
Margruite says some of her canvas floor clothes were made already in 2005 and still look great after more than a decade of foot traffic. Not all of Margruite’s canvases were inspired by floor patterns. This one was found on a trap door in the Klippenstein home in Neubergthal.
Margruite traveled to other Mennonite villages as well looking for painted floor boards and found them sometimes under layers of carpet and linoleum. This pattern was discovered in a house in Grunthal Manitoba owned by a Driedger family. I wonder if they could be relatives of mine? Margruite says that while the petals on the flowers in floral patterns were usually painted with a brush the centre circle was stamped using a potato or some other vegetable.
Margruite based this artwork on a geometric floor pattern she found in a Gerbrandt house in Sommerfeld Manitoba. She has discovered some 26 different patterns so far.
777 Boxes of Grace by Margruite Krahn from the Herdsman House in Neubergthal
I encourage you to go to the Winnipeg Art Gallery gift shop and check out Margruite’s unique work. You can find out more about Margruite on her website and read more about her work with floor patterns there too.
The T-4s Go Mennonite in Neubergthal
The Brommtop and Cross Dressing Mennonites
Isn’t she incredibly lovely? This is my favorite image in the Pitaloosie Saila exhibit currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The self-portrait shows the artist as a young woman. Although in reality her face is not tattooed, in this image she has portrayed herself with tattoos in the South Baffin Island style. Pitaloosie remembers her aunts having tattoos like this. Pitaloosie has put her portrait on a ulu, a traditional Inuit woman’s knife. Pitaloosie has a personal collection of ulus of many different kinds. Pitaloosie Saila is 75 years old and has been drawing and making prints since the 1960s. The exhibit currently at the Winnipeg Art Gallery provides a wonderful retrospective of her work over the years. What I like so much is that it gives us a glimpse into Pitaloosie’s personal life.
She has made a lithograph of her grandmother dancing a reel on one of the whaling ships that came into port in Cape Dorset.
In this lithograph we see four generations of Pitaloosie’s family. On the far right is her great-grandmother chewing a seal skin to soften it. In the middle is Pitaloosie’s grandmother with a more modern hairstyle and clothing. On the far left is Pitaloosie’s mother. She died when Pitaloosie was only two years old so the artist never really got to know her mother but she has dressed her in an even more modern way than the other two women. Could that be little Pitaloosie in the amauti in her mother’s parka?
Pitaloosie Saila answers questions at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on October 28
Pitaloosie was in Winnipeg for the opening of her exhibit and she told us stories about the various pieces on display.
In this stonecut Pitaloosie is playing with her wooden dolls. They were made for her by her father and uncles. The dolls had heads and bodies and legs but no arms. Pitaloosie cherished her dolls and she made clothes for them which helped her to learn sewing skills.
Pitaloosie and Aqsatunnguaq
There is a sad story behind this gorgeous watercolor of Pitaloosie and her sister. As a child Pitaloosie was sent south to hospitals for seven years because of a back injury and complications from tuberculosis. While she was gone her dear sister Aqsatunnguaq died. Pitaloosie didn’t find out till she returned home to Cape Dorset.
Arctic Madonna by Pitaloosie Saila
Pitaloosie said her artwork is a way to leave parts of her heritage to her children and grandchildren. Her artwork also provides a beautiful glimpse into her personal life for the many people who love and admire her work.
The Globalization of Art From Japan to Cape Dorset
Inuit Fashion Show
Another Shameful Chapter in Canada’s History
“The whole point of art is to perplex and confound.” Andrew Kear the chief curator at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is describing David Altmejd’s ideas about art. Altmejd’s huge detailed work The Vessel is currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and it certainly does perplex and confound. There is no easy explanation for what it is all about. Yes the piece does appear to be a kind of vessel as its name suggests, a vessel filled with a multitude of the most interesting things. We see parts of bodies…
Hands moulding and shaping things
There are containers filled with insects and…………………
Giant shapes that look like swans or musical instruments and ………………
you see spools of thread and large wooden pieces kind of like wings of some sortAndrew Kear says David Altmejd likes to see what the unintended will bring to art. He likes to discover what accidents will happen as he constructs an art piece. That makes for the creation of art that definitely makes you think and ask questions and use your imagination. I can hardly wait to show The Vessel to kids. I know they will find all kinds of things in this artwork I haven’t discovered yet.
The Beginning and End of Life
Art in Bloom
Are You Sure They Aren’t Photographs