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Beautiful British Columbia Thermal Blanket–Huyen
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(b. 1928 Alexander, MB; lives in Vancouver, BC)
Beautiful British Columbia Thermal Blanket–Huyen 1980
oil on canvas quilted and stuffed with fiberglass insulation
244 x 244 cm
This piece is one of eight in a series of quilted paintings by renowned artist Gathie Falk. Falk used Instamatic photographs of friends in her Kistilano garden for the Beautiful British Columbia Thermal Blanket series. The title sets up expectations of spectacular British Columbia landscape—but instead we are offered the intimate space of a backyard garden, serving as a backdrop for portraits of the artist’s close friends. For Falk, these friendships are part of what makes British Columbia beautiful. Each friend helped to sew the resulting quilt, creating a work that preserves, protects, insulates personal relationships and histories—this particular work portrays her friend Huyen.
Of this series, Falk says, Just as the quilted blanket in common use is made of small pieces of unused or used up, usually useless pieces of fabric so these blankets are composed from snapshots, banal, sentimental detritus worn off our everyday lives, useless, lying about till someone chucks them into a shoebox. The subject matter I have chosen is likewise the recordings of unimportant events: celebrations of coffee and cake with close friends, and of flowers in the garden. Taken one at a time the events and the snapshots are not important, throw-away pieces of one’s life, but put together, like the quilted blankets of our foremothers, they become wondrous, glowing, warmth-giving large additions to our comfort and pleasure.
Gathie Falk’s enigmatic ceramic sculptures attracted early acclaim, as did her pioneering work in performance art; she later returned to painting, which she had originally studied at UBC in the 1970s. Falk has exhibited internationally, and has work in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, the Canada Council Art Bank and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
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