A Raw and Northern View involves the work of three artists from Northern British Columbia centred in the communities of Prince George and Vanderhoof.
In Prince George and Vanderhoof, as with many places, the forest surrounds us. But here, where forestry and its related industries have an ubiquitous presence, if one is not employed directly in this sector one’s life is likely to intersect with it in other ways. These three artists are no exception. Sculptor Phil Morrison, a pressman at a Prince George newspaper, marshals an enormous amount of paper in any given week. Annerose Georgeson put herself through art school working summers at a sawmill and her entire family has been employed in the industry in a broad range of roles ranging from silviculture surveyors to logging contractors. Painter Allan Farmer worked as a log scaler for many years and relished painting the landscapes in which he lived and operated.
In British Columbia, a province known for its natural beauty our forests are a part of our identity which is often romanticized. The proximity of the forest to these artists, and a working and dynamic forest industry, has influenced the way they see and reflect landscapes, forests and trees.
Phil Morrison’s concrete sculptures comprise a base of stark, grey, weathered looking tree-forms familiar to anyone who has explored a beetle killed or burned tract of forest. Hands and feet negotiate these forms in works that are inward-looking reflections of self. In his work we find the body as a drained container draped over a branch like an empty snagged wrapper and the means with which to climb to some aspirational height.
Annerose Georgeson, for more than ten years has documented the forest in which she lived with particular attention to the impact of the mountain pine beetle and processes of renewal. Her paintings are expressive and while not overly representational, they reveal unexpected beauty through candid views of logging operations, burned forest and new growth.
Allan Farmer,passed away in the spring of 2014. Many of his paintings situated industry – pulpmills and logging operations, for example– in the context of the land he painted. Accustomed as we are to idealized landscapes Farmer’s matter-of-fact representations seem out of the ordinary. Rather than protesting the presence of industry on the land, Farmer’s work was a reflection of the world in which he operated and which is ultimately familiar to many British Columbians.
Far from idealized representations of the land, this selection of work embodies world views that are imperfect, introspective and matter of fact. Here is the budding of new life, the land that feeds us, and a tangled, honest world without agenda, -- and with in it hope, and a raw surprising beauty.
George Harris, Curator
Two Rivers Gallery Prince George, British Columbia