The Art Council of Hafnarborg has selected The Wildflower as the autumn exhibition of 2020, from a number of excellent proposals submitted at the end of last year, but the winning proposal was submitted by curators Becky Forsythe and Penelope Smart. The Wildflower focuses a futuristic lens — sensitive and searching — on our human desire to know nature. Through this lens, audiences re-engage a swell of complex emotions and an acute awareness of our fragile world and our place in it. Working with artists from Iceland and Canada, the curators cultivate new space for a dynamic collision of climate activism, feminism and craft-based practice in contemporary art. Urging forward a renewed interest in traditional materials connected to local culture, artists transform wood, marble, plant dye, flowers, metal into new visions of textile, sculpture, painting and stained glass armour.
The conceptual vision for the exhibition is that of an open “field” in a northern landscape. In the expansive gallery space, audiences will encounter familiar yet unusual representations of flowers and nature: large, small, otherworldly, imaginative, disorienting, empowering. Our human relationship to nature is in flux, unfathomable and fantastical, felt as both a gendered and androgynous transformative power in this futuristic yet fragile field — a source of productive tension and enchantment within the size, scale and materials of the works.
The Wildflower has evolved out of the curators’ shared interest in climate change as an empowering phenomenon, natural materials and craft traditions in contemporary art, as well as new forms of representation in northern landscape. These genres also align in new and meaningful ways to emerging concepts of nature, power and the feminine. Envisioned as an innovative and female-led curatorial platform for all audiences, The Wildflower explores themes and materials related to innocence, violence, colonization, action, force and gentleness in powerful union with the innate qualities of nature, raising the question: how can that which is deeply familiar — our delicate flora clinging to rock — take root in new stories?
Becky Forsythe is a curator, writer and cultural worker. She holds a BFA Visual Art from York University (2007), an MA from University of Manitoba (2011) and a Postgraduate Certificate in Museum and Gallery Studies from Georgian College (2014). Her work focuses on varied systems of nature, collecting and acts of care, as well as placing value on collaboration in diverse spaces, situations and sensitivities. From 2015-2018 she held the position of Collection Manager at the Living Art Museum, where she led a number of projects and exhibitions, including Distant Matter (2018), Rolling Line (2017, co-curator) and Between mountain and tide (2018, co-curator). For Forsythe an exhibition is equally tangible and intangible, being a site of exchange, action and renewal.
Penelope Smart is a curator and writer. She holds an MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice from OCADU (2013), where she received the President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Studies. Smart has held curatorial positions at The Art Gallery of Ontario, MULHERIN galleries (Toronto and New York) and Eastern Edge Gallery (St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador). Her writing has appeared in Canadian Art, C Magazine and n.paradoxa, among others. With a focus on young artists at the beginning stages of their careers, Smart approaches exhibitions as a place of risk-taking, life and mystery.
The participating artists will be announced at a later date.