Stuffing

Nathaniel Christopher Arthur [Peterborough, Ont.] Volume 38 Issue 10

Go get stuffed! It’s all about material and stuff at Artspace right now. The show ‘Stuffing’, which is on from November 7 until December 14, is a provocative, stimulating perspective on our materialistic world. The artists, Paul Atikins, Heather Beauchesne, Tamara Bond, Megan Dickie, Winnie Fung, Kevin Greish, and Monika Napier, all use their own mediums and narrative to express themselves with “stuff.” All of the exhibits are good and thought-provoking, but there were three in particular that left a real impression on me. Heather Beauchesne is the best thing to come out of Saskatchewan since Tommy Douglas – Saskatchewan may be her brush but the world is her canvas. She has exhibited her work here in Canada and as far away as Australia, I was excited to have had the opportunity to see her work right here in Peterborough. Her art exhibit is absolutely delightful – it’s just like taking a step into Strawberry
Shortcake’s house!

Heather Beuchesne’s “stuff.”
Photo: Nathaniel Christopher

Heather Beauchesne’s eclectic exhibit consists of seven life size dolls hanging on the wall. They seem to immediately scream out: “Hey! Let’s go back to the 1980s and party!” What’s better is the materials from her work could very well be from the 1980’s – Heather’s work is made from 100% recycled material! I’m all for thrift, but she makes art out of it.

Each doll has a lace-lined text bubble above it with a day of the week written therein. All of the days are in white except Saturday, which is in pink. Why? Heather claims that she wants to save “one day for pink.” Although her dolls look like humans from a distance, they are completely made out of clothing and “ornamentation”; there have no eyes, hands or other human parts. To me, these completely “accessorized”
dolls represent the ornamentation of humans, who, in popular culture, are not viewed for their natural, inner beauty but the external superficial “stuff”.

Each doll has a unique set of clothes, with some even featuring Care Bear logos. There are purses, and co-ordinating high heel shoes placed lovingly on a pretty heart beneath each doll. The shoes and purses are of the kind that you would wear out somewhere nice. But alas! The dolls are hanging from a wall; the
shoes are just out of reach. They are all dressed up but can’t go anywhere. This represents desire!

Megan Dickie’s “Pourable/Reversable Cuddling Lap.”
Photo: Nathaniel Christopher

Winnie Fung’s exhibit ‘Made in China’ is on the wall directly across from Heather’s piece. The fact that it is placed across the room seems to suggest that the clothes we wear are often made on the other side of the world – in China. Winnie’s exhibit consists of sad shades and colours like grey and pale blue
– in stark contrast to the happy, bright colours of Heather’s dolls. Made in China reminds
us of the people who make our clothes. The exhibit pays tribute to their work and reminds us that our luxury and vanity comes from the unseen struggles of someone on the other side of the world.

Winnie Fung’s exhibit, “Made in China.”
Photo: Nathaniel Christopher

Kevin Greisch’s exhibit includes an electric mixer with wings, and a lawnmower with a tiger’s head. This exhibit is one of fantasy and desire. It seems to suggest that our domestic roles are determined and limited by material objects. The electric mixer is an object from the kitchen, the stereotypical domain of the wife. The lawnmower is an object that is used in the yard, the stereotypical domain of the husband. The wings on the electric mixer seem to suggest that the wife isn’t confined to the kitchen – she is liberated and can fly away! The tiger head on the lawnmower brings out the wild spontaneous, spirit that
seems to be lacking in yard work- it’s male liberation!

In his exhibit Kevin has turned these usually dogmatic objects into symbols of liberation.

This review does not cover the exhibit in its entirety – to see it all you have to check it out yourself.
Artspace is located at 129A Hunter Street West – at the corner of Water and Hunter.

I am a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada who has blogged here for 20 years. I like to share my thoughts and feelings on my own online space. From 1998 until 2017 I worked as a journalist and I hope to use this website as an archive for all of my stories.