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March 24 to April 22, 2017

Birds of Paradise

Lauren Marsden


Birds of Paradise is a video installation that tells the story of a near-future, post-energy crisis world, one in which pole dancers become symbols of the human struggle for resources. Set amidst a series of energetic landscapes, dreamy narration and kinetic props, their performances point to a seductive yet frustrated vision of paradise. This work features performances by Sydney Southam, Jiles Barrett and Leiah Engel, narration by Pia Shandel, costume design by Megan Veaudry and additional aerial footage by Robert Krogh. Co-produced by Sydney Southam and Justin Muir. Directed, filmed and edited by Lauren Marsden.

Lauren Marsden is an artist, teacher and editor based in Vancouver, BC. She produces films, performances and GIFs that are developed collaboratively with a range of professionals and performers. She has recently exhibited her work at CSA Space in Vancouver, The New Media Gallery in New Westminster, Alice Yard in Port-of-Spain and the Trinidad + Tobago Film Festival. In 2015 she was a Visiting Tutor and Artist-in-Residence at Quest University and she currently teaches Video Art at the University of Victoria. She is also the Founder and Editor of Decoy Magazine, a Vancouver-based publication of art and writing.
Lauren Marsden, Birds of Paradise (production stills), 2017.
February 3 to March 4, 2017

Everything is Being Perfected

Neil McClelland


My current body of paintings explores tensions between utopic and dystopic visions. I inquire into notions of human happiness and perfectibility, the creation of Edenic paradises, disruption and dissolution of society, alienation and consumption, nature and culture, the monstrous and the beautiful, myth-making and storytelling. I am especially drawn to the title of Paul Gauguin’s painting "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" as evoking crucial questions for contemporary examination. I take imagery and inspiration from literature and film, along with art historical, historical, contemporary and personal sources. Drawing on an array of source material, I create combinations and layers of digitally edited compositions that form the basis for beginning a painting in oil. Using the qualities and possibilities of paint, I seek to convey a visceral sense of place and time to suggest what is simultaneously familiar but strange. Fragments of the real and unreal merge to create possible futures that have potential to evoke the dangers inherent in thinking that human ingenuity and technology can create a perfect society, but that might also hint at possibilities of a new beginning. I see my painting process as a form of inquiry in which I am attempting to grasp and create a sense of the utopic and dystopic contradictions that pervade our lives at this time. My narratives are ambiguous and open, leaving the viewer to create their own story and meaning. Merging fragments of the present, the past, and an imagined future I hope to create a fictitious world, a “no place” but one in which we might find something of ourselves and our world. 

Neil McClelland is a Canadian artist originally from Quebec and currently located in Victoria, British Columbia. He received his MFA from the University of Victoria in 2014 and is a 2016 Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grantee. He has exhibited in artist-run, public and commercial galleries across Canada and teaches at Vancouver Island School of Art and sessionally at the University of Victoria. In his paintings, McClelland frequently engages with art historical conventions and traditions, intentionally disrupting their boundaries as he seeks to understand their meaning in an increasingly mediated and troubled world. 

Neil McClelland wishes to thank The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation for its financial support.

Times Colonist Article