Alberta project

The development of new work continues; this draws on source material gathered in Alberta, western Canada, in the summer. Continuing with the animal collection theme, this group of pieces references a particular collection of stuffed native animals viewed in an outdoor accessories store in Calgary; Bass Pro Shops (a North American chain of stores). Like the museum collections explored in earlier work, these animals are fixed into ‘appropriate’ poses, carefully displayed in naturalistic dioramas. The landscape is indicated in the displays, with fake rock surfaces, trees and painted scenic back drops. However unlike the museum animals, these have not been stuffed and mounted for the purpose of informing and educating the audience; rather purely commercial reasons. Hence a dilemma is created; should the audience enjoy the display and the opportunity to see the animals up close, or should we disapprove on ethical grounds? (According to anecdotal evidence, it is likely that several animals were shot to create one authentic complete animal for display). It is this ambivalence and complexity that is of interest. Hunting is an integral aspect of the region for locals and tourists; but as an outsider how much is it appropriate to criticise or comment on particular activities? 

The work developed presents the animals, frozen into their poses, contained within the frame of the rectangular or square form. The landscape they originally came from is referenced as a scenic backdrop. The context of the stuffed animals is only slightly apparent; they are reintegrated into the scenery, reduced to silhouetted form or translucent photographic image. They appear to be an integral part of the landscape to some extent, and yet something is slightly off-kilter. Subtle visual clues refer to the backdrop of the shop and its displays. Like the earlier pieces, these are wall pieces, simple flat, hollow rectangular forms developed to contain pictorial elements. The text refers to a slogan used in the shop (‘More outdoors for your money’).
This work marks the beginnings of a return to tourism related subject matter, but a continuation of the animal collection theme.

Some of this work will be exhibited soon at Byard Art, Cambridge during their Christmas show.