Upcoming Solo Show - Perimeter

Recent Work by Bernadette Peets 
March 28 - April 7
Opening reception March 30th, 7pm-11:30pm

Hashtag Gallery: 830 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario

This current body of work started with the window installation piece entitled “All Are Welcome” that I created for the Akin Collective in 2018.

I have been exploring the significance that the Canadian landscape holds for me as subject matter in my painting for some time now.

As I followed what seemed to be an endless stream of news stories recounting tales of disenfranchised refugees from other parts of the world fleeing their own lands in search of safety, I began to wonder what ideas these people might have about landscapes other than their own, and more specifically about our Canadian landscapes, in light of their unfortunate set of circumstances.

On the face if it, our country is a vast, beautiful place with plenty of space and natural beauty. It holds the promise of freedom, jobs, security and a new start for refugees seeking asylum here.

While I believe many Canadians would consider themselves to be open and welcoming people, I sense that there is an undercurrent of dis-ease among some Canadians with respect to wholeheartedly welcoming and accepting disenfranchised refugees as potential full-fledged citizens of Canada. Some very real obstacles and barriers exist that are thrown up to thwart the efforts of newly landed refugees attempting to experience full acceptance and integration into Canadian Society.

Although the Canadian landscape is open, wild and vast, with ample living space to share, I’m not sure that we all have fully embraced this concept when it comes to ‘sharing space’ with newly landed refugees.

I have chosen the medium of paint, my love of Nature, and depicting the Canadian landscape as starting points from which to launch a visual exploration of the topic of Canada and its relationship to the disenfranchised newly arrived refugee. My background as a designer for the stage also figures prominently in my choice of idiom for the depiction of this subject. I have placed two-dimensional figures within the ‘landscape constructions’ that I have fabricated to suggest that these newly landed refugees are people whom we do not yet see (experience) in three-dimensions (as human beings, fully equal to ourselves in every way). I have included translucent barriers in the form of fences that allow the figures in my constructions to see what they still cannot completely obtain.

The outsides of the boxes have been decorated with motifs that hint at the cultural origins of the figures populating my constructions. This is meant to reflect the cherished hopes held by the newcomers that they might be able to sustain some of the rich cultural heritage brought with them to a new land.

Using Format