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image
Laurie Walker, Pavane pour une infante défunte (détail), 1997.

Laurie Walker
From February 27th 1999 to April 3rd 1999
Exposition solo

Laurie Walker’s most recent work investigates mortality, transcendence, and the notion of the soul while continuing her exploration of aspects of transformation as manifested in such diverse fields as science, religion, nature, alchemy and mythology. These themes have arisen naturally from broader concerns which have always informed her work, namely the relation between mind and matter, nature and culture, a search for human significance in the natural world.



The works selected for the gallery space also stage the transience of life through the notion of collection and index. Pavane pour une Infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess) takes its title from the well-known music by Maurice Ravel. The work resembles a stone sarcophagus for a child with an array of indigenous and exotic butterflies lining the silk interior. The butterflies’ rich colours create a royal tomb while their power of metamorphosis makes them strongly symbolic. They are nonetheless presented as quite dead and fragile specimens, the pins securing them in place lending a sense of discomfort to what is often referred to as one's "final place of rest."


As soap bubbles silently escape from a pile of rocks and rise to a seemingly arbitrary fate, Pulvis et Umbra (Dust and a Shade) speaks of the boundary between the animate and the inanimate. The title derives from an essay by the Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, in which he questions why we continue to strive despite our disheartening failures. Walker’s titles are worth considering as they shed light on the origin, meaning and complexity of her work.

In a smaller work, lit from above by a fluorescent halo, a child’s stature again serves as a reference point while the title evokes a biblical theme. Jacob's Ladder weaves together Eastern and Western notions of the spirit and its relation to the body. The ladder-like quality of a human backbone is reiterated in the gold leaf pattern applied to the bone, and the biblical story is thus reinterpreted, the path to transcendence now located within the body. The image of a coiled serpent carved around the stone core sample at the base of the piece would tend to suggest evil in the context of the biblical reference, but the image takes on a very different meaning with regard to the Kundalini yoga of Buddhists and Hindus. Kundalin means "coiled up" and refers to the spiritual energy which is pictured as a little female serpent coiled around a lingam, a symbolic male organ at the base of the spine, the base of the body. The goal of the yoga is to wake the serpent and bring her up the spine through seven centres. While this is a recondite concept, its image comes astonishingly close to Walker’s interpretation of "Jacob’s Ladder."

Laurie Walker thanks the Canada Council, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Stéphane Le Tirant and Al Orr. The artist would also like to point out that no wild butterfly populations were affected by this work.

Laurie Walker has exhibited widely in Canada since receiving her MFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1987. In Montreal she exhibited for a number of years at Galerie Christiane Chassay and had an exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal in 1994. More recently she has had two-person exhibitions at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre in Guelph, the Musée régional de Rimouski, and participated in "New Science" at The Edmonton Art Gallery. She currently teaches part-time at the University of Ottawa and will be exhibiting in Dortmund, Germany next year.

Bibliographie
- Entrevue à la Société Radio-Canada, Émission «Midi Culture» de Gilles Daigneault, 8 mars 1999.
- Horne, Stephen, "The Collector",Canadian Art, Fall 1999, p. 114.

- Lamarche, Bernard, "Branchés en direct",Le Devoir, Saturday – Sunday 23 – 24 January 1999, p.B-13.

- Latendresse, Sylvain, "L’instant d’une éternité",Vie des arts, 176, Fall 1999, p. 73.

- Miller, Marcus, "Between a rock",Hour, March 18 – 24, 1999, p. 28.

-"Ste.Catherine West",Vie des arts, 174, Spring 1999, p. 82.