19 November 2005 – 15 January 2006

Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens & at Centennial Square

At a time when the effects of global warming might be twice as catastrophic as previously thought, and extreme climate events threaten us worldwide, it no longer seems mundane to talk about the weather. The exhibition Weathervane looks at how contemporary artists think about the weather. For some artists, the study and presentation of the phenomenological aspects of weather has enormous implications. Others use visual and textual strategies to link atmospheric conditions to psychological, social and environmental concerns.

Marlene Creates investigates the human perception of place. Her recent photographic series asks how we distinguish one place from another, and how notions of territory and belonging are reinforced by public signage.

Paterson Ewen's work reflects his lifelong curiosity about natural phenomena, offering us visions of the cosmos, coastlines, bodies of water, and the weather as “the substance of human wonder rather than scientific data" (Doris Shadbolt, 1977).

Rodney Graham's Weather Vane (2002) is a functional object intended to show the direction of the wind. It depicts the artist mounted backwards on his bicycle, an image derived from his film, The Photokinetoscope (2001), in which he pops LSD and rides through a Berlin park, apparently in a psychedelic haze.

For years, Tania Kitchell has recorded the weather in a journal entry early each morning; this record forms the core of her practice. In Fargo (2004), she integrates her written observations of weather conditions from the film into a large, multi-paneled work.

Mark Lewis' film, Windfarm (2001), depicts a California wind turbine farm, provoking reflections about the environment, responsibility, and the future. The film reel revolutions echo the spinning movement of the rotor blades of the wind turbines, as well as the continuous loop of the projected work.

For the last decade, Richard Rhodes has been painting the skies from his third-floor deck, exploring air and openness through colour. The Available Sky project comprises solo and diptych paintings, as well as serial groupings, which form an ongoing Toronto-skies catalogue of great depth and subtlety.

Described as a “filmic haiku," Seifollah Samadian's film, The White Station (1999), is a nine-minute work shot from the window of the filmmaker's apartment in Tehran during a snowstorm. The camera focuses primarily on the figure of a lone, unidentified woman battling the blizzard in a swirling, black chador.

Alan Storey's Climatic Drawing Machine (1989) is a 9-metre-high outdoor sculpture based on the hygrothermograph often used in art galleries; its mechanisms record temperature, precipitation, air pressure and humidity, producing a “storm" of “messy, illegible scrawls" (the artist, 1999).

T&T's (Tyler Brett and Tony Romano) large digital prints imply landscapes from a not-too-distant future where freak weather conditions are common and individuals explore imaginative options for alternative energy sources and habitats.

Diana Thater's installation, White is the Colour (2002), projects images of white clouds into the upper reaches of a dimly lit, windowed room. Faced with the incongruity of clouds in an interior space, the viewer experiences a moment of uncertainty between the brain's expectation of a cloud, or of art, and the authentic experience inside the room.

For conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner, language designates “relationships of human beings to objects and objects in relation to human beings." ODDS & ENDS TIED TOGETHER / AS THE DAWN COMES UP LIKE THUNDER is typical of Weiner's practice: it contains words that are simple, unambiguous, and combined in a manner that is open to interpretation.

Since the 1970s, Chris Welsby's work has been concerned with landscape and atmosphere within an increasingly technological reality. Shot in one continuous take, Windmill III (1974) captures a park landscape in the flat, mirrored blades of a small windmill.

The artists in Weathervane tackle the challenge of representation in complex ways, addressing the human condition in the context of local and global atmospheres. Weather is ever-present, ever changing and, inevitably for each of us, an integral part of our sense of self in the world.

Curated by Karen Love

Weathervane is a collaborative project of the Ottawa Art Gallery and Oakville Galleries. The Ottawa Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of its members, donors and sponsors, as well as the City of Ottawa, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Oakville Galleries gratefully acknowledges the support of its membership, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Corporation of the Town of Oakville, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Weathervane received support from the Touring and Collaborations program of the Ontario Arts Council.

Participating artists

Marlene Creates, Paterson Ewen, Rodney Graham, Tania Kitchell, Mark Lewis, Richard Rhodes, Seifollah Samadian, Alan Storey, T & T (Tyler Brett and Tony Romano), Diana Thater, Lawrence Weiner, Chris Welsby