March 28 – April 15, 2018
Work from time spent at wildfire sites in Alberta, North West Territories, Saskatchewan, Arizona and California.
Fire has been one of our essential companions through the ages. Over millennia people learned the habits of fire and developed practices using it to cultivate, hunt and build settlements. Industrial development over the last two centuries has moved fire from the open hearth and field into the encased structures of combustion engines. It has separated the effluents from the burning via smokestacks and tailpipes. The cultural and physical significance of fire itself has been forgotten. The exception to this lapse is when mega fires arise out of the dryness and heat of climate change. We then fear fire as a force we cannot control, knowing it is an indicator of the devastation human activity is wreaking on the earth.
Phyllis Gordon began her forest watch in the lush Haliburton Highlands where she spent several months immersed in the forest drawing trees, from early spring growth to late summer fullness. The following season Canadian forests were burning early, particularly in Saskatchewan, jolting her to a different and more urgent watch. Gordon started learning about fires and began drawing and carving fire images into wood. This led to a sense of pilgrimage to seek out the aftermath of fires and to record dead trees and empty ground. During the last two years, she undertook road trips to burnt forests in Arizona, California, Saskatchewan, Alberta (including Fort McMurray) and the Northwest Territories. Forest Watch is the first presentation of work recording her exploration. The work is made on paper and wood, in honour of the forests and to remind the artist and the viewer to stay connected to these precious materials.
Phyllis Gordon’s art practice includes drawing, painting and printmaking. Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions in the Greater Toronto Area, including Mississauga Art Gallery, and has been regularly selected for drawing and printmaking exhibitions at John B. Aird Gallery. She is a member of Propeller Gallery and Open Studio Printmaking Centre, Toronto. Prior to focusing on making art, Gordon practiced law in Ontario for many years.