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Barbara Balfour, Linda Carreiro, Helen Gerritzen,
Lisa MacLean, Catherine Stewart: Quintessence

Nanaimo Art Gallery
Nanaimo BC Mar 18-Apr 17, 2004

Linda Carreiro – Archives
Linda Carreiro, Archives (2003), mixed media
[Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo, BC, Mar 18-Apr 17]

While occasionally the public sees work by artists trained in medical illustration, rarely do we see artists literally using the resources of natural science to explore new forms of creative expression. Quintessence is a remarkable show of work by five women whose prints were inspired by the materials and subject matter of various scientific disciplines.

Linda Carreiro, who teaches human anatomy and morphology, employs an old wooden filing catalogue in an interactive piece that allows viewers to search through beautiful small drawings of biological specimens. Colour photo etchings by Catherine Stewart combine pages from a 16th Century manuscript by the astronomer Copernicus with photos of her daughter. The movements of her daughter become layered with the manuscript, On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres. Similarly, Lisa Maclean's digital prints combine manipulated photos of anatomical wax models in Florence’s La Specola Museum with images of her own body and those of her acquaintances.

Barbara Balfour brings together the psychological aspects of medical illnesses present in melancholia or depression and melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer. The elegance of her lithographic floor installations belies the gravity of both conditions. Helen Gerritzen’s evocative mixed media works, which appear to have been subjected to chemical disintegration or a process of decay, underscore the temporality of natural substances.

Mia Johnson

 Wed, Feb 4, 2004