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Installation | Sara Hartland-Rowe | Trees, Animals, and Things

Updated: Jul 10

July 26 - September 14

Opening: Friday, July 26, 5–7pm

Trees, Animals and Things forefronts the experience – so common in childhood -- of an imaginary world that exists within familiar things. Using found-object sculpture, free-standing painting, and photography, I work with colour phenomena, pareidolia (seeing meaningful image in inanimate form), and recognition of expressive gesture to make an uncanny world of colour and objects.  

Building representational scenarios out of junk means definition of form remains precarious: a pile of broken objects can, with a second glance, be recognisable as a meaningful presence. It can, as quickly, collapse back into debris -- a chair-leg, the handle from a child’s umbrella. Holding both images in mind, the expressive and the meaningless, makes room for an open and generous approach to the world. I want to make visible the animate, expressive force that seems to exist in all matter. My intention is that in translating an insignificant object into a recognisable sign, a clumsy but alert relationship can begin to exist between humans and the material world.  

Colour is also active: objects melt into an equiluminant field or appear starkly spot-lit. Optical illusions hovering at the periphery of one’s vision make phantom colour and movement appear. Value relationships and pattern challenge one’s certainty about spatial location and the edges of forms. This necessitates a moment-by-moment perceptual experience, rather than a more rigid understanding one’s surroundings through knowledge and assumption. 

Trees, Animals and Things creates an environment for the viewer in which their perceptual experience shifts between the seen and the unseen, between incoherence and recognition, and in which the material vitality of the world appears and disappears as one engages with it. 

About the Artist

Sara Hartland-Rowe attended NSCAD (BFA 1990) before moving to Chicago for post-graduate work (MFA, UIC Chicago, 1993). She returned to Halifax in 2000.

Hartland-Rowe has exhibited across Canada, and in the US, South America, and Europe. Significant solo and two-person exhibitions include Small World (Museum for Textiles, 1998), Days Are Where We Live (Museum London, 2000), The World in the Evening (Dalhousie University Art Gallery, 2002), The Prince (Durham Art Gallery, 2003), all things good and pure (Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 2004, Look to the Living (MSVU Art Gallery, 2012) and sweet, sweet painting, (Hermes Gallery, 2020). Travellers (2014), a permanent public art commission for Halifax Transit, was a finalist for the Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia’s Masterworks Award, 2015. Hartland-Rowe and three NSCAD students recently completed a commission for the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax. Hartland-Rowe has received funding from national and provincial arts councils; her work is in private and public collections.



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