“If one of art’s many purposes is to help us to see and understand our selves more clearly, then one of public art’s more important purposes is to help us see and understand our selves as a community of beings in a world of socially shared values and dreams. Such a purpose might appear visionary or unrealizable, yet visions are built from sparks of insight and inspiration, moments in which we see our separate and individual lives as inextricably linked to a larger purpose. For many, such moments are rare, caught up as we are in the pressures of work, family and friends. Yet, given the extraordinary diversity of cultures and vertiginous rate of recent social change, making time for such reflection is essential. For citizens, public art can create an opportunity to celebrate the prosperity and good fortune of their city while cultivating empathy and generosity towards those needing further attention and care.
Thrive By, Janet Morton’s site-specific installation outside the Richmond Art Gallery, offers such an opportunity to reflect and enjoy. The work’s immediate appeal arises from its colourful and familiar materials—recycled domestic handcrafts—and its sense of surprise. Viewers first encounter the work as they traverse the curving path that skirts the east side of the Cultural Centre, which meanders alongside leafy bushes and showy blooms. Attached to branches and set among the “real” flowers are crocheted circles of bright acrylic yarn. Adjacent trees and street furniture are dressed in crocheted lace of orange and pink. In the windows of the Art Gallery and cascading from the roof, bright red, yellow and orange yarn doilies dazzle the eye. The unnaturalness of this exotic flora is not immediately apparent. In near-tropical British Columbia, where bamboo and passion flower sprout amidst maple and pine, who’s to say what’s unnatural? Eventually, the outlandish size and surreal colour alert even the most casual observer, and Thrive By begins to work its magic.”
Excerpt from Thrive By: Janet Morton at the RAG, by Amy Gogarty
Janet Morton had shown Thrive By, her first exhibition in British Columbia, parallel to a two-person exhibition at the Belkin Satellite Gallery, in Vancouver with Evelyn Roth.