May 9, 2023
Nickle Galleries exhibition explores our relationship with the land and themes of connection and alienation
Deep personal ties to Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass, British Columbia, and Scotland combined with creative and scholarly investigation of land use have resulted in a new exhibition that opens May 11 in UCalgary’s Nickle Galleries. Treelines – Here and There features the work of artist Gwen MacGregor and explores the relationships between humans, geography, time, movement, space and memory.
MacGregor is a multidisciplinary artist whose work includes photography, drawing, video, installation and, recently, needlework. MacGregor’s work has been shown throughout Alberta and British Columbia since the mid-1990s, beginning with her video installation Fold it up and put it away: Fernie’s Curse at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and The Fernie Museum.
In this latest exhibition, MacGregor’s love of the land is clear, as is her alarm over the effects of human activities such as logging. Representations of trees are at the heart of her examination.
Nearly 50 crocheted trees detail species that are present in British Columbia and the Scottish Highlands. This has special significance because MacGregor’s maternal grandfather emigrated from Scotland and settled in the B.C. Interior. He was a logger but eventually began to question certain forestry practices.
MacGregor places her crocheted surrogates in barren landscapes, photographing or video taping them. Treelines features a selection of these photographs as well as an installation of handmade trees.
The exhibition juxtaposes real and imagined trees and landscapes, exposing assumptions and practices that undermine healthy relations. ”When placed on the land and documented, the wee trees come across a bit whimsical and sad. But then that seems appropriate for the time of environmental crisis we are living in,” says MacGregor.
“Treelines encourages us to think closely about our relationship with the land,” explains Michele Hardy, exhibition curator and acting director of Nickle Galleries. “MacGregor’s crocheted trees tug at fractured collective memories just as her photographs suggest the vastness of environmental change.”
Exhibition tour and opening reception
Treelines – Here and There is on view until July 21. It is curated by Michele Hardy and organized by Nickle Galleries. The exhibition is open to the public on weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.