In Praise of Lichens
March 3, 2023 – April 22, 2023
Lichens: infinitely varied, ancient, ubiquitous, slow-growing, tiny, still, silent. Lichens are a foundational element in the development of plant life on earth. They unite differences, both algae and fungi, plus additional lifeforms, exemplifying collaboration and symbiosis and the absence of binary hierarchies. Moreover, they are marvellously intricate and beautiful.
The prints in this exhibition each feature a particular lichen found in Ontario or Quebec. This imagery emerged after Phyllis Gordon spent considerable time in Ontario forests, which she supplemented with library and online research. The prints appear as specimen-like images of the lichens, many times larger than they exist in nature. They are created using the reduction method of woodcut relief, printing by hand onto Japanese paper.
Gordon has often worked with repetition in printmaking, enjoying the possibilities that arise when repeatedly printing the same block within one print to convey distance, movement, and expansion in an indefinite progression. In this exhibition, the prints are solitary images but the additional wall pieces explore and feature repetition to convey the lichens in their habitat, displaying their growth and coverage. Here, Gordon combines digital and analogue approaches to print, unconventionally printing scanned elements of the woodcuts onto mailing labels, which are then cut out, collaged, and montaged to convey a sense of the lichens in situ.
Phyllis Gordon’s practice in drawing and printmaking is primarily an engagement with our environment, both as an observer of its beauty and as an artist concerned about the Climate Crisis.
As a young woman, Gordon studied art in Vancouver, Montreal and London, England. After several years practising law in Ontario, she returned to making art, taking courses at The Toronto School of Art, OCAD, Fleming College (Haliburton), and Open Studio Printmaking Centre.
Gordon has exhibited in numerous group, two-person and solo exhibitions including the John B. Aird Gallery, Propeller Gallery, Cedar Ridge Creative Centre and Open Studio Printmaking Centre, all in Toronto, and, Project Space, in London, Mississauga Art Gallery, Artworks Oakville, Colborne Art Gallery, and the Orillia Museum of Art and History.