HEATHER GOODCHILD:DRAW THECURTAINS
OCTOBER 14- NOVEMBER 6, 2016
MULHERIN TORONTO is pleased to present “Draw the Curtains”, an exhibition of new paintings by the Canadian artist, Heather Goodchild.
“The room in which we find ourselves is fairly comfortable. Draw the curtains, for the night is dark: and let us devote ourselves to describing the furniture.” Unfortunately, however, the furniture refuses to accommodate itself to the naturalistic view of things. Once we begin to examine it attentively, we find that it abounds in hints of wonder and mystery: declares aloud that even chairs and tables are not what they seem.
—Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A Study of the Nature and Development of Man’s Spiritual Consciousness, 1911
In this passage, Underhill creates a metaphor to express our inability to experience true reality. Instead we experience and interpret our lives through filters constructed by our own minds. In “drawing the curtains,” we try to close ourselves off from a higher consciousness but find that the disconcerting, if subconscious, tension between perception and reality persists even in our own carefully curated private spaces.
Through watercolour and oil paintings, Goodchild examines rooms in her own home, rooms captured as screenshots from decades-old costume-dramas, and antique pieces of an ambiguous nature, seeming equally likely to be movie props or coveted relics. Using different media and contrasting techniques for her subjects, Goodchild devotes herself to “describing the furniture” in fictionalized and real spaces in order to explore why we hide behind the curtains, and what lies beyond.
The oil interiors taken from stills of TV dramas reflect their source through their slightly blurred and nebulous quality. Void of people, they carry the anticipation of the entrance of an actor or the vacuum left behind by their exit. These interiors are purpose-staged by professionals to evoke a specific era and accommodate scripted actions, yet inevitably become overlain with the viewer’s hopes, anxieties, and fears.
In counterpoint, the meticulously detailed watercolour works contemplate the construction of a personal reality through the objects one chooses to live with and the emotional significance they take on. Here, unlike in the unpeopled oils, partially obscured figures hint at ripples of drama disturbing the calm, controlled surfaces of the scenes.
For each of us in our own lives, the details competing for our attention can be overwhelming—it is perhaps the lack of subtlety of images on a screen and their constant motion that provides such welcome escapism: we are seeing and feeling what someone else has chosen. Similarly, we try to create a controlled experience in our own spaces and through our own mental filters, fearing to open the curtains on reality, where the terror and beauty of what is beyond perception beckons.
Heather Goodchild is a Toronto based multidisciplinary artist, exhibiting since 2001. Recent exhibitions include the Textile Museum of Canada, Estevan Art Gallery (SK) and Harbourfront Centre, with an upcoming exhibition at Modern Fuel (Kingston, ON). Goodchild was awarded the Canada Council for the Arts international residency (Paris) in 2014 and was the Artist in Residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2012. Alongside her studio practice, Goodchild works with musicians on animated videos and albums covers, including Bahamas, Doug Paisley, Feist and Chilly Gonzales