Earth Works
Royal Botanical Gardens, Canada
Curated by
  • Ephemeral Art Curator, John K. Grande

    Hamilton, Ontario CANADA
    July 18 - October 13, 2008

    NEXT Fifth Season Gallery On-line Exhibition

    Welcome to EARTH ART 2008 Exhibition at the Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, Canada

    Canadian and international artists created one-of-a-kind ephemeral art installations throughout the Royal Botanical Gardens' cultivated gardens and natural lands. These ephemeral art earthworks utilize natural materials and plants to create large installations where landscape and art are inextricably linked, revealing new relationships between nature, landscape and the environment./John K. Grande

    ARTISTS participating in the EARTH ART EXHIBIT at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Ontario, Canada/Summer 2008 are:

    July 18-October 13, 2008

    Bob Verschueren

    Belgian artist Bob Verschueren is not only a veteran of vegetal art. His works are likewise daring in their use of mineral matter. Nature silently and surreptitiously invades the meaning of art in his art. His ephemeral artworks do not seek to conquer or possess a space, but in creating scenarios that are site, light and earth sensitive heighten our awareness of the actuality of a place... Among his most ground breaking works are the Wind Paintings from the 1970s and 1980s which involved painting the landscape of empty and desolate places with crushed charcoal, iron oxide, chalk, terra verte, flour, yellow ochre, terre de Cassel, burnt and natural umber. Each time, after a specific material was laid out in a linear motif on the land, Verschueren would wait for the wind, a hand that sublimates the art to the materials to distribute the variously coloured pigments and materials over the land. The resulting works usually only last a few hours, whereupon the wind that created them likewise blows them away.
    Verschueren's experiments in painting landscapes and landforms with light in the early 1980s at night have yielded results as unpredictable and beautiful as the Wind Paintings. He has said that the monumental and colossal aspect of Land Art is lost in photographs that bear witness to such art projects. Verschueren’s vegetal installations play on and with ephemeral materials such as nettle and water lily leaves, sand, tree branches, moss, lettuce, twigs, stones, fire, even potato peels and the list goes on... Bob Verschueren has explored the sounds of plants at the Banff Centre for the Arts, exhibited his installations and colour photographs extensively in Europe, as well as in North America and Japan. Verschueren’s vegetal aesthetic invokes a phenomenological approach to artmaking. Each design applies natural elements to establish a relation to the specific architecture and landscape of a site - be it indoors - out in the land-or in the city, but the process remains accidental.

    Emilie Brzezinski

    An abstract sculptor since the 1970s when she explored the transparency of plastic, Emilie Brzezinski went on to work with wood, and continues to now. Growing up in Berkeley, California, she visited the coastal forests and beaches of Northern California and Oregon with her father. Early influences included Constantin Brancusi's direct carving techniques and the wood sculpture from Japan. Brzezinski participated in a travelling international symposium from 1993-95 called "Construction in Process" at Lodz, Poland; Cardiff, Wales and Israel's Negev Desert. "We made art not to be sold, not to be placed under critical scrutiny, not to adapt to someone's taste, but for artistic purity, truthfulness, and the rewards of hard work. The process was liberating."
    Brzezinski earned a fine arts degree at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and shortly after married Zbigniew Brzezinski, a political scientist of Polish parentage. Her monumental wood sculpture parallels that of Magdalena Abakanowicz of Poland, Magdalena Jetelova of the Czech Republic, and Ursula Von Rydingsvard from the USA. Brzezinski had her first solo in 1981 in Washington, and since then at the Florence International Biennale of 2003, (she won 1st prize in sculpture); the Kampa Museum, Prague, 2002, (an installation paying double homage to devastating floods in that city and the September 11 attacks); and "Forest" at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington (1997), Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington (2000) as well as art spaces in Bratislava, Bucharest, Budapest and Warsaw (2002-04). "Forest III,"2005, was shown at the A.U. Museum show.
    The tree forms are "metaphors of humanity and its struggle for survival." These trees twist, and animate like gigantesque human torsos, and can be groupings or individual trees. Recycling old trees about to be cut down, trees that are dying, or trees felled by the effects of weather, the artist makes them into "vertical wedges," The language is that if nature, but with a human edge, as the wood twists, turns and reflects growth patterns. Brzezinski's "tree-forms," are evocative and unusual examples of an art that collaborates with nature.

    Simon Frank

    Simon Frank's sculptural work utilizes natural materials culled from numerous hikes and excursions around his home. The forms he makes with these materials immediately reference architecture, furniture, art and those things which relate to the ritual of everyday human life. He was born in Glasgow in 1968 and grew up in Dundas, Ontario and holds a B.A. Honours in English from the University of Guelph (1991. He lives and works in Hamilton not far from the Royal Botanical Gardens.
    "Core" performed at the Tree Museum incorporated elements of both action and performance. During the opening reception for the exhibition he dug a 6-foot deep hole in the ground placing a bronze-cast tree root resembling a heart to then bury it, returning the site to the way it was before he performed the action. Invoking the ancient myths and rituals found throughout human cultures, where something is buried in order for it to be reborn into the world, the artist buries the "high" art object so that new ways of seeing our relationship to the land may arise.
    Recent exhibtions include Future Cities (2004, Art Gallery of Hamilton), SPASM II, (2004, Saskatoon), the Geumgang Nature Art Project, (2002, Korea), and Zone 6B, (2000, Hamilton), the McMaster Museum of Art, the Art Gallery of Mississauga, the Pancevo Gallery of Contemporary Art, Serbia, the Koffler Centre and the Burlington Arts Centre.

    Yolanda Gutierrez

    Yolanda Gutierrez, a young Mexican artist, has already exhibited in Paris at the prestigious Jeu de Paume and at the Galerie Yvonamor Palix. A free spirit, who prefers to work outside the normal limitations of a studio space to produce in situ ecological interventions in the great outdoors, Yolanda Gutiérrez uses materials direct from nature that include animal bones, shells, sea sponges, thorns, feathers and tree branches.
    The precarious balance between life and death, and the necessity to preserve wildlife reserves are major themes in her innovative work. In Santuario, Gutierrez realized nesting structures as sculptures that drew the birds back to their native shores in the Xochimilco Ecological Zone of Mexico (1994). And in 1995, a wildlife reservation on the island of Cozumel, off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula, became the site for another important habitat project. Gutierrez had already been working with a team of biologists she had hired when a hurricane struck devastating the area and alarming biologists who feared native birds might not return to the area if nesting materials were not available. An important indoor sculpture installation work, Umbral consisted of pairs of cattle jawbones assemblaged in mid-air to look like a flock of birds taking off. Like other works, Umbral gives the appearance of life to things now dead. Choice of site played a major role in a brilliant intervention called "En la luz del dolor", enacted in an ancient water reservoir in Turkey. Using floating forms with candles, Gutierrez heightened the viewer's sense of the fleeting ephemeral nature of life, and the spiritual dimension. From Posada to Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, the duality between life and death has always been a recurrent theme in Mexican art. Yolanda Gutierrez brings a sharp, contemporary perspective to this age old universal theme.

    Roy Staab

  • Roy Staab's earth-sensitive site-specific installations use locally available materials and result in ephemeral earthworks that eventually devolve back into nature. He then documents his work with his own photography, which he has exhibited in numerous shows. Staab has been invited to create installations in Japan, Finland and Italy, and he has built site-specific pieces in Central Park, New York; in East Hampton, Long Island, Cape Cod; and at Arte Sella in Italy. His works stand out for their structural and geometric concerns. Set into nature, they provide a rational counter-structure that edifies the viewer. The effect is one of holding a mirror to nature, reminding us of the context within which the artwork resides.
    A sculptor from the Midwest who has lived in Paris and New York, Roy Staab now lives in Milwaukee. He has received various awards including a Japan/American Artist Exchange Creative Artist Fellowship, Pollack/Krasner Grant, and a Gottlieb Foundation Award. Staab was educated at the Layton School of Art, Milwaukee Institute of Technology and the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. His paintings, drawings and photographs can be found in the collections of the Musée d'art moderne and Le fonds national d'art contemporain in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Recent and upcoming shows include the Rahr-West Art Museum in Manitowoc, Wisconsin; KM Art, Milwaukee; Flatfile Gallery in Chicago; Free Space Praha in Saporo, Japan; and Eoartspace in Beacon, New York. His recent site-specific commissions include the Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee; Bjorklund, Bailey’s Harbor in Wisconsin; Otofuke Culture Center in Japan; the Rahr-West Art Museum in Manitowoc, Wisconsin; the Hudson River Museum of Yonkers, New York; Boreal Art Nature in Quebec and Domaine St-Bernard, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada.


    Active in the field of environmental art since the 1960s, Nils-Udo builds structures, elaborates on the landscape in a scale that fits, montaging natural materials on site. Thus links are established between horticulture and art, but with a basic sensitivity to the history of the landscape and land. Nils-Udo's approach is tactile and often extemporaneous, creates a visual counterpoint between the various organic and inorganic elements. Site specific and with an integrative approach Nils-Udo's plantings were a major breakthrough in the field of contemporary art. The trees, plants, and materials he has used in works such as To Gustav Mahler (1973), Birch Tree Planting (1975) and Spruce Tree Planting (1976) embroider on nature using living natural elements in situ. Structures - both hidden and visible likewise play a role. Romantic Landscape (1992) a permanent installation on the grounds of Ludwig Forum for International Art in Aachen, Germany, an entire natural landscape, is raised onto an artificial platform yet is used by children who frequent the grounds. In New Delhi, India, Nils-Udo presented garlands of marigold flowers, that flow in long lines like curtains to cover an ancient arch structure evoking a sense of the sacred. For The Blue Flower: Landscape for Heinrich von Ofterdingen (1993-1996) a crater-like earth mound near Munich has a closed gate that contains a pond, plantings of about 10,000 blue wildflowers in a newly generated ecosystem. Thus Nils-Udo’s interest in plantings merge with a built up earth structure. In 1994 at the Chateau de Laas near Pau in France, he created a living spiral comprising various corn species to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the introduction of corn to Europe from the Americas. In the centre an octagonal tower was built with original non-hydrid species of Mayan corn growing on top. At the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, France he recently created a fairy tale-like piece that merges his interest in earth structures and planted elements. At Domaine St. Bernard near Mont Tremblant, Quebec
  • Nils-udo created a 'Pre-Cambrian Sanctuary' in 2003
    Nature's process of endless reproduction and recreation are usually not recognized by most of us as we go about our daily lives. Nils-Udo breaks through this dream-state of contemporary culture to make explicit the many ways we perceive, define and reflect on reality. Nils-Udo: art in nature was recently published by Flammarion (2002) and a book on Nils-Udo's Nests by Le Cercle d'art in France.

    Ludwika Ogorzelec

    Born in Poland, Ludwika Ogorzelec has lived and worked in Paris, France, since 1985. A recipient of The Pollock-Krasner Grant (2000) and the Prix du Conseil National de Monte Carlo (1991), her work has been shown around the world. Her work is included in the public collections of the Giffen Haus Factory, Austria; the Cat-Art Centre in Sainte Colombe, France; Slogo Island in Lisekil, Sweden; Memorial Park in Louisville, Kentucky; the Jardin De Grignon in Istres, France; Mamidakis Foundation on Crete, Greece; and the Museum of Modern Art in Lodz, Poland.
    Ogorzelec’s work currently consists of two related sculpture cycles. Instruments of Equilibrium, begun in 1981, is a search for the moment of balance in these light, delicate, harmonious mobile structures, and Space Crystallization, begun in 1990, is a site-specific process employing intersecting lines that are ordered to modify the physical space and its customary use. The result is a space that is transformed into smaller components- "crystals"-with the purpose of interacting with the observer's consciousness and sub-consciousness to achieve a new aesthetic and psychological state.

    Neville Gabie

    With a background in sculpture, Neville Gabie's practice has always been driven by working in response to specific contexts beyond the studio. His interest is in using the working process as a means of exploring the physical, cultural and emotional significance of specific locations. Each place, by their nature is uniquely different, often demanding a rethinking of approach. As a result he works across several disciplines, from sculpture to video and photography, but the spatial concerns of sculpture in particular, have always underpinned his practice. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1959, Neville Gabie studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London. Since then he has continued to practice as an artist and lecturer. His work is included in the Arts Council and Tate Gallery collections and he has worked on residences at Tate Liverpool, Vitamincreativespace, Guangzhou, China (artists links) and at IASKA an international residency programme in Western Australia (Arts Council International residency programme)
    UP IN THE AIR 1999 – 2005 was initiated by Gabie as MOMART Artist in Residence at the Tate Gallery, Liverpool from 1999-2000, and was developed and co-curated with Leo Fitzmaurice. The project responded to a three tower estate due for demolition in North Liverpool, and ran over five years involving 25 artists and writers. The PROJECT COAST 2003–2005 work in response to a stretch of the Essex coastline used by the MOD, which is completely inaccessible to the public. Commissioned by Commissions East, Firstsite Gallery and Essex County Council.
    POSTS (Penguin Books 1999) an ongoing photographic project documents makeshift goalposts around the world, was recently re-published by Sansouci Verlag, Germany in 2006. Playing Away UK–touring exhibition with Oriel Mostyn Gallery, 2004 and Das Grosse Rasenstueck, Nuremberg, Germany, a site specific installation of billboards for the World Cup Final Arts Council with Wide Eyed and Legless...Arts Council residencies and exhibitions in a remote rural settlement in Western Australia 2006–7
  • BS1He is currently Artist in Residence forr three years, working on a huge city centre development site in Bristol, England (2006-2009)
  • Artist's website

    For this exhibition at The Royal Botanical Gardens, Neville Gabie is planning to develop a piece of work based on a sculpture made for the
  • Forests of Dean Sculpture Trail in England

    Arthur de Mowbray

    Born in Uruguay. Early years spent there, in USA, and England. Would normally be found engaged in making and constructing projects, often of an ethnographic inspiration.
    1980–84 Art studies at Goldsmiths College, London, concentration on life drawing, woodcarving, weaving, and assorted workshop skills.
    Since then mostly working to commission for site-specific pieces in a number of media including steel and bronze, etc but my preference has always been wood. "My most notable projects so far have been: Figurative carved and painted details for the Globe Theatre reconstruction, London. Pair of large carved and painted landscape bas-reliefs for the headquarters of Boots plc Carved wood figure group for Sheffield Cathedral. 37' long Douglas fir dug-out canoe for the Lee Valley Park, London; Wood light fittings and other internal and external fittings for The Calyx Centre eco-building, Pines Garden, Dover Benches, shelter, planters and trellises for Tate Modern Community Garden, London, England"

    Most of de Mowbry's work could be called 'applied' rather than 'fine art' as he believe that aesthetic considerations can often be positively augmented by being combined with practical purposes. (e.g. Pacific Coast Dug-out canoes.)
    Wood is a great medium for such an approach as its strength, adaptability, and sustainability have always made it a perfect partner for ingenuity and expression across the length and breadth of Humanity.

    Michael Flomen

    Michael Flomen was born in Montreal, Canada in 1952. He began taking photographs in the late sixties, and has been showing his work on several continents since 1972. Flomen is a self-taught artist, who is known for his mastery of photographic printing. He has worked with many artists over the years, including as master printer for Jacques Henri Lartique in 1975.
    For the last decade, Flomen has made photographs collaborating with Nature, using camera less techniques while working directly in nature. With the natural elements, such as various forms of water, Flomen created photographs for the exhibition RISING,TEEMING, and the FRAGILE.
  • With fireflies and their bioluminescent light, Flomen made photographs for HIGHER GROUND which documented the stellar tracings of their light directly on film. The results of Michael Flomen's black and white large format images are hieroglyphs of an explorer who works with light to reveal what is there, but seldom seen.
    Michael Flomen has work in the collections of the George Eastman House, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Musee de Quebec, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Norton Museum of Fine Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others.
    Michael Flomen's photoworks will be in Pixels and Paper, a travelling show organized by the National Gallery of Canada (2008/2009) and he will be participating in an Earth Art show at the Royal Botanical Gardens near Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He is represented by Hasted Hunt Gallery in New York. His works are included in an upcoming Aperture publication whose title is Abstraction and Photography by Lyle Rexer (2009). A show is scheduled for Artcore, Toronto in May 2009 and the DVD Fragile documenting Flomen's photographic process and work will be released in May 2008 (Production by Yuma Maison de l'Image et de la photo in Montreal.

    Arnold Shives

    North Vancouver artist Arnold Shives has for some 30 years been involved in painting and printmaking. When he studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute and at Stanford University with Richard Diebenkom, Nathan Oliviera and the sculptor Stephen De Staebler in the 1960's, Shives discovered a whole world of painting that he would later bring into sharp focus painting the wilderness of British Columbia. His early abstract paintings reflected the awesome beauty of such regions as the Nass River Valley, the Coast Mountains and Central Interior, areas that were at the time largely untapped by local artists. Shives found forms-ice formations, sprigs, trees, massive mountain ranges and seemingly infinite skies - every bit as challenging and awesome as those he experienced studying art in California. The resulting artwork resonated with the patterns, colours and textures of nature and caught the attention of such senior artists as Toni Onley, Jack Shadbolt, Gordon Smith and Canada's dean of abstract painting Jack Bush who commented early on: "He is young, talented, with something of his own to say, with a very interesting West Coast flavour."
    The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria held the first major catalogued solo show of Shives' printwork in 1983. From the Heart of the Wild: New Works from the Healing Place, a show presented at the DeLeon White Gallery in Toronto in 1996, marked another milestone in this British Columbia artist's long history of artistic practice. Steel grids were combined with acrylic on plywood cut-out compositions that created a sculptural tension and sense of immediacy, almost a virtual depth. At present, Shives has been further extending the vocabulary of his artistic process with a series of mixed media monotypes and toner transfers. These works can involve a variety of print and painting techniques in a single work; woodcut elements are transposed onto monotypes, or monotypes can be adhesed onto larger works. The subjects still provokes in the viewer a sense of nature's sometimes threatening, othertimes beatific presence. Shives' latest paintings were recently the subject of a solo show at Galerie Forum Lindenthal in Cologne, Germany and he was represented in the Vancouver Art Gallery's recent summer show Face to Face: Four Centuries of Portraits. Arnold Shives has recently produced The Valley of Melting Sand (Prospect Press,1999) a book that presents drawings done during Shives' formative years studying at Stanford University.


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