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EARTH DAY 2021: Stop Extinction! Restore the Earth
The Embassy Cultural House (ECH) and GardenShip and State are pleased to present a virtual group exhibition Stop Extinction! Restore the Earth to celebrate Earth Day, April 22, 2021. Work in the exhibit features artists from within the ECH community and Gardenship and State participating artists. Artworks in the exhibit address the broad issues related to the climate crisis, and other threats to our ecology. Works also address the intersection of sustainable living and the respect for Indigenous land rights.
- Established in 1983, the Embassy Cultural House (ECH) was a community-driven gallery and hosted interdisciplinary programs. It closed its physical doors in 1990. In 2020 the ECH was re-envisioned as a virtual artist-run space and community website.
- GardenShip and State, 2019-2021, is an exciting project that includes as participants ECH co-founders, Ron Benner and Jamelie Hassan. This interdisciplinary research project is co-curated by award-winning artists/educators/activists, Patrick Mahon and Jeff Thomas. An exhibition related to GardenShip research and workshops will be presented at Museum London and other locations throughout the city of London in September 2021.
Jessie Amery, Pandemonium: Let’s Give Them Something to Squawk About, 2000
Medium: Book cover and binding hand-embroidered with cotton and silk threads, on printed cotton fabric, embellished with glass and pottery beads; journal pages white linen
A workshop on bookbinding provided me with two things, an opportunity to learn something new and another place to put a stitch. It felt natural to use fabric and stitches to create an embroidered cover for this hand-bound book. The brightly coloured fabric seemed to call out to me with a kind of boldness that demanded I embellish it with French knots, satin stitch, fly stitch and straight stitches to bring the parrots and their habitat to life. The embroidered cover tells a story, before you open the book, stimulating the senses. The word used to describe a flock of parrots is “Pandemonium”. In looking at my embroidered flock, it is easy for me to imagine being in the Amazon rainforest, listening to them squawking as I inhale the floral scents and am captivated by all the different colours. What we may not see until we take the time to look further beyond the embroidery, given disappearing habitat, poaching and the climate crisis, is that today more than half of the Amazon parrots are under threat. The earth is a beautiful place to live. We need to conserve, protect and restore natural habitats so future generations can stitch their own images of the pandemonium.
Ron Benner, Remains in association with..., digital colour print, 2021
The dried grains, seeds and vegetables in the photograph are from Asia, Africa, Southern Europe and the Americas: rice, sorghum, chickpeas, lentils, chili peppers, beans, maize, etc. representing a biodiversity reaching back in time to when humans first began to farm wild plants about 10,000 years ago. The cultural deposits, ceramic and glass shards, were found in the soils of Iraq, Jordan, Mexico, and Turtle Island/Canada by myself, Jamelie Hassan and William Kingfisher. As cultures have disappeared so have many of the plant varieties that sustained them for thousands of years. The loss of biodiversity affects us all.
Carole Condé + Karl Beveridge, Futures
It increasingly appears that humankind is facing a stark choice: continue as we are and we will perish, or change the way we live and hopefully survive as a species. Underlying 'living as we are' is the destructive logic of capitalist growth. Profit invariably depends on growth, a growth that nature (let alone humans) can no longer sustain. Futures portrays the present day rape of nature by corporate interests. Two flanking images portray a future dystopia and utopia. Set in a mall, the same characters appear in all three images and represent various corporate, political, and social interests. A young girl is the narrative witness. The work loosely references European altar paintings, often titled 'Day of Judgment' of the 14th and 15th centuries.
Originally created for the 2015 exhibition N2N: Widening the Narrows at the Orillia Museum of Art and Art History. The exhibition was curated by Matt McIntosh and Wanda Nanibush. Group show with Michael Belmore, Nadia Myre, Travis Shilling, and Osvaldo Yero.
Michael Fernandes, not taking it personally don’t take it for granted
freedom subjugation domestication
utilization and exploitation all wrapped in one attempt to amphora-mix.
kerry ferris (1949 - 2016), butterfly's long green journey
kerry ferris painted landscapes, portraits, and wildlife for over 40 years. This painting is about the journey of the monarch butterfly from south-western Ontario to central Mexico which occurs every year in the autumn. All butterflies and bees are at risk of extinction due to habitat loss, pesticides, and herbicides.
- Mireya Folch-Serra, Bird Friendly
- This piece represents a place that is green, lush and bird-friendly. The bird is undisturbed and tranquil. But did you know that 25 million birds – including 23 bird species are at risk— die in Canada from crashing into windows each year? Knowing this may allow us to create a good environment for migrating birds.
Fatima Garzan, Secret Garden – Orange
The Allegorical Garden
It is a spot beyond imagination, delighted to the heart
Where roses bloom, and sparkling fountains murmur
Where the earth is rich with many-coloured flowers
And musk floats on the gentle breezes
Hyacinths and lilies add their perfume
Golden fruits weigh down the branches of the lofty trees
Shahnameh, Ferdowsi, Persian poet 935-1020 A.D translated by James Atkinson
The Secret Garden series is inspired by “Shahnameh” (The Book of Kings). One thousand years ago, with his poetic sentiments, Ferdowsi spoke about the beauty of nature: trees, flowers, clean air, fresh water, and fertile soil. All of which are highly debated and relevant topics in today’s world.
The Secret Garden is about a hidden world of emotions, thoughts, memories and dreams. It represents an image of ‘pardis’, the Persian word for paradise and a place of great happiness and heavenly beauty. With stylised form and embedded repetitions,
The Secret Garden evokes meditative awareness. It provides pathways for contemplation and reflection and reminds us that we are the guardians of the Earth. We have a responsibility to take care of our planet and to raise our voices for environmental justice. We need to spread climate literacy and live a sustainable life to save our beautiful home in the universe for many generations to come.
Dave Gordon, Moby Dick Cloud Over The Toronto Skyline
Jamelie Hassan, Solar Power
This watercolour is from my series about the solar lamp motif and its use in our garden which I painted from 2005/06. In 2019, I cut this watercolour into 3 panels which Ron Benner framed in the maple frame as a triptych. Sarah White at The Framing and Art Centre had given Ron two of the maple frames that had been ordered by one of her customers. It happened that there was an error in the measurements when the frames were constructed. Knowing that both Ron and I liked this maple frame, Sarah gave the frames to Ron. I had done this series of watercolours but was not happy with some parts of this particular work. Nevertheless, I kept it for more than 10 years, unframed and deep in my works on paper storage bureau. Rather than tearing it up, I considered that by making the work into a triptych that it might be salvagable. The recycling of these frames created an opportunity to view this watercolour in a fresh and more effective way.
Mark Kasumovic, Vault #3 [From series: A Human Laboratory]
Using extensive links with the international scientific community, A Human Laboratory explores the settings of many of the most significant and mysterious scientific experiments happening around the world. From a seed storage vault tucked away in polar Svalbard, to the remote Experimental Lakes Area hidden within rural Canada, this body of work focuses on the great variety of sites and apparatus’ that we collectively use to understand our contemporary world. Focusing on experiments whose outcomes are often not predetermined nor fully understood, it invites viewers to consider the ramifications of such discoveries as quantum communication, genetic engineering and particle physics. It also raises questions concerning the role of conservation and preservation within the act of discovery.
Apart from the beauty of such intricate man-made spaces, the photographs in this body of work also seek to question the inherent relationships between the apparatus of scientific inquiry and the humble photographic camera. As spaces such as laboratories become more visually cryptic with the onset of advanced and often invisible technologies, the camera can highlight a new burden of photographic representation: the difficulty all instruments of knowledge production have in representing some of the world’s most hidden phenomena. It can also entice thoughtful reflection upon how reliant we are on the function of images; how intermingled images are within the culture of knowledge production, and how relationships can be constructed if the two are analyzed in tandem.
Vault #3 was a photograph taken at the Global Seed Vault embedded within a massive arctic cliff in polar Svalbard. The seed vault was constructed in 2008 to house “spare” copies of seeds held within international gene banks to avoid the loss of native species during a regional or global crisis. Most photographs representing the seed vault focus on the stunning landscape surrounding its entrance; the frozen doors that need to be thawed to access the vault’s interior; or perhaps Vault #1, which was rapidly filling to capacity during my initial visit. Vault #3, however, was empty and quiet. It provided a peaceful space to contemplate the long journey every seed has made to wait together, quietly, to be called to action.
Brian Lambert, Meadowlily, Video, 2020
Meadowlily celebrates the beauty of one of London’s most prized natural areas, Meadowlily Woods. It is meant to call attention to a staff recommendation at London City Hall to pass a proposal by developers to build 88 condominium units adjacent to this truly unique and highly sensitive natural area. A soundtrack by Nach Dem Tode accompanies the video, shot in the spring of 2020.
Patrick Mahon, Nonsuch Garden Wall Panel (Fence with Sail)
With my project, Nonsuch Garden (2015), I was interested in proposing a domain that recognizes a freighted colonial past (and present), emblematized by references to a ship, while simultaneously suggesting the possibility of a future that acknowledges its embeddedness in and accountability to history. Charting multiple trajectories that propose a decolonial critique, while invoking horticultural and environmental issues past and present, Nonsuch Garden trades on the remembered and the imagined. It is, fundamentally, my poetic assertion concerning a contemporary moment of transition and urgent challenge when, I believe, generativity is still possible. Nonsuch Garden Wall Panel (Fence and Sail) is a printed and collaged wood panel that is meant as a detailed window onto a world that stitches photographs of small urban gardens together with close-ups of aspects of the sail of a replica ship. The ‘scrap of garden’ is presented as a highly coloured, digitally manipulated dot pattern printed directly onto plywood and veneer, to suggest a site of excavation and adaptation.
Catherine Morrisey, Geese and Goslings
Early in April the geese start looking for a patch of shoreline to make a nest and lay their eggs. Yesterday I disturbed a pair that were trying out a nice spot in the sun. That spot also happens to be the boat launch for kayakers. Reluctantly they got up and paddled away to a quieter spot. The river is 10,000 years old, and the geese have been nesting here every April for thousands of years.
Troy Ouellette, Destroyer/Creator (Voluminous Trace Series)
In these works the ghost-like spectral force of the image is emphasized in two ways, the first deals with the unrealized aspect of repurposing military technologies for real future ecological needs the second is the fossilized trace of outdated modes of thinking. In this case militarism, as such, may be equated with a failure to consider the wider sphere of biological life.
The initial pop bottle plastic models, used to create the photograms, were constructed to mimic the process of using repurposed military technologies. Just as Spitfires and other planes were used after WW2 as crop dusters or civilian ocean liners became hospital ships these models shift the mode of operation. By reimagining the destroyer as an instrument for cleaning the Pacific Gyre, I attempt to create something that proposes new productive uses for technology. When I am working on these images I am conjuring military X-rayed “specimens” and the detritus of our present surge of petrol-chemical production.
Jill Price, UNLEASHED, 2021
35:05-minute video recorded and performed by the artist.
Continuing to investigate my role as an artist in times of truth and reconciliation and deep ecological crisis, Unleashed is a durational performance in which I carefully set free the skin and fur of a rabbit from the form of a human hat in order to point to the liveliness and vitalness of different species. Informed by the historical research that outlines how rabbits in Britain were often only hunted for sport and entertainment as their meat was considered undesirable to the upper class, this work signifies my desire to unmake myself from perspectives, processes and consumption that prioritizes the accumulation, adornment and entertainment of humans over the life and well-being of the elemental commons (soil, water, air) and more-than-human beings.
One of many practice-led investigations researching how unmaking can help us partially undo anthropogenic views, values and aesthetics first introduced by Europeans exploring, trading, colonizing and settling North America, Unleashed materially speaks back to the economic imperialism of the early North Atlantic fur trade and how we can see this exploitation of animals iterated in industrial fur farms and the ongoing global displacement and extinction of species and their natural habitats today. Unleashed is also currently on exhibit as part of a larger installation at the Orillia Art and Historical Museum entitled UNFURLED: Unsettling the Archive From a More-Than-Human Perspective.
Kian Saadani-Gordon, Up in Smoke, graphic animation, 2021
Kian Saadani-Gordon, Up in Smoke
The earth is spinning thanks to technology, and factories and all that, but because we only look at the short term, we don't notice that the pollution is destroying the earth, and our planet is up in smoke.
Roland Schubert, Bird on the Edge
Bird on the Edge is a photograph of a seagull taken at St. Mary's, Ontario. The bird is on the edge of a dam which was built in the 1800's to power a mill which no longer exists. The dam is dysfunctional.
Jean Spence, Little Views of Lake Erie # 6
The large dark cloud that is hanging over us is a reminder of the harm that can be triggered if the earth and all that inhabit it are not respected and nourished. In rereading the essays for the art project “The London-Port Stanley Connection,” I was reminded of the importance of landscape, place and our relationship to it; our guardianship and documentation, both visual and written. Even within the short time frame since the exhibit, the losses acknowledged and endured, the contributions are there.
"The London Port Stanley Connection" group exhibition presented in 2003 included ECH artists Ron Benner, Jamelie Hassan, Jean Spence, John Tamblyn, and Bernice Vincent and involved collaborations with Port Stanley locations and independent businesses including the Moore Water Gardens, Mackies and the Telegraph House. A limited edition publication of 100 copies was published with Jason Dickson, ECH contributor and co-owner of Brown & Dickson Bookstore.
Jeff Thomas, Broken Treaties, 1613 -, digital - pigment print on archival paper, 2020
Travelogue: I visited the Caledonia protest site after things had settled down and documented the signage. As I drove to the reserve I was followed by a black SUV so I drove around the SUV stopped following me, before going to my destination.
Key to images (left to right)
Jeff Thomas, Caledonia, Ontario, 2007, “OH CANADA,” Argyle Street S. Occupation Site, GPS Coordinates: 43.05713, -79.96581
Protest site with Six Nations of the Grand River asserting ownership via the Haldimand land deed (stolen land in 1841), The original Haldimand Tract that the Iroquois were given stretched from Kitchener, Ontario to Lake Erie, six miles on each side of the Grand River. Only 5 percent of the original 950,000 acres remain.
Jeff Thomas, Albany, New York, Dutch Man & Indigenous Man (Mohawk?) Monument, 2004, Tri-Centennial Park, Broadway & Montgomery Street, facing the Hudson River, GPS Coordinates: 42.65421, -73.74746
In 1613 The Dutch and Haudenosaunee signed the first treaty on Turtle, known as the Two Row, and commemorated as the Two Row Wampum Belt.
Jeff Thomas, Chief Red Robe, Grand River looking north from Lake Erie, Port Maitland, 2008, GPS Coordinates: 42.85705, -79.5791
Jade Williamson, Human Impact