Gwen Curry

Frans Willis Gallery, Victoria
April 8 - May1

Gwen Curry, Varied Thrush (1997)
Gwen Curry, Varied Thrush (1997),
oil stick on paper on wood

Canadian artist whose work has been widely exhibited in galleries from Cologne, Germany to Los Angeles, California. She is particularly well-known in British Columbia for her starkly-graphic charcoal images of birds. Where Canadian sculptor Joe Fafard's cows and human busts are miniature in scale, Curry's birds are larger than life and even confrontational.

In this new series, Curry presents richly-colored oil stick drawings on paper. As in earlier pieces, she focuses on the insignificant species of birds that might otherwise be overlooked. However, her common shrikes, ravens, thrushes and sparrows are cropped and enlarged in portrait-like pictures that give even the most humble bird-in-the-bush a strong physical presence. With their dominating scale, the roles of subject and bird-watcher become reversed. The birds confront us, the viewers, with their haunting stares and delicate intelligence.

In her exploration of environmental issues, Curry has also embraced the use of embossed lead, steel and cast bronze in sculptural works. By sombre contrast to her alert and inquisitive ornithographics, an eight-foot steel monolith included in this exhibition is etched with the names of fifteen species and the dates of their extinction.

© Mia Johnson