has long been known as a destination for leisure and recreation, but
this reputation stands in stark contrast to the experience of the
area’s earliest settlers.
the first generations that settled here, Muskoka was a harsh and rugged
environment that required an incredible amount of labour to make it
habitable. Today, however, much of Muskoka has been manicured into
submission, the landscape and shoreline altered to cater to our
evolution of Muskoka from an untamed wilderness dotted with rough-hewn,
one-room cabins into a playground for the wealthy known for its opulent
lakeside summer homes is the topic of exploration for Cabin, the
upcoming group exhibition at the Chapel Gallery featuring work by Dayna
Barley-Cohrs, Miranda Britton, Andrew Cohrs and Gavin Hammond.
Drawing on the theme of
the one-room settler’s cabin, each of the four artists has created
pieces that explore the
relationship between our natural and built environments here in Muskoka
and how our interaction with these environments has evolved.
initial impetus for the show came from Gavin, a fifth generation
Muskokan who, as a designer/builder, often reflects on how much his
experience designing and creating high end living spaces differs from
that of his ancestors. “Beyond this difference though, I’m also
starting to see a shift back towards traditional craftsmanship,” says
Gavin. “Even if it is only artisanal or small batch production of
handmade goods – it’s really interesting to witness this swing back
towards a preference for the handmade.”
and mixed-media artist, Miranda Britton, painter and illustrator Dayna
Barley-Cohrs and metal artist Andrew Cohrs, all of whom live rurally and
make a living creating with their hands, share Gavin’s interest in
reflecting on how life in Muskoka has evolved over time. Through
discussion, the four artists have developed pieces that explore these
ideas and generational shifts.
settlement of Canada was one of the original ‘back to the land’
movements,” explains Miranda. “By coming here, European settlers
took a significant step backwards and often didn’t really know what
they were doing. They had to learn as they went and develop a diverse
set of skills from farming to carpentry to tool fabrication.”
Gavin, the exploration of these themes has resulted in a series of mixed
media utilitarian pieces and natural sculptures that represent and
explore the contrast between manmade and natural lines, shape and form.
Miranda, the pieces for this show have primarily taken the form of mixed
media assemblages that are based on the type of objects typically found
in a pioneer cabin, but with a humourous nod to the modern experience of
contribution to Cabin will be a series of paintings and illustrations
that emphasize the contrasts between the daily life of early settlers
versus that of the current inhabitants of the area.
for metal artist, Andrew, this exhibition has provided an opportunity
for him to explore the tools required to make a life in the wilderness.
help link the diverse work of all four artists back to the original
motif of the one-room settler’s cabin, the four artists will
collaboratively transform the Chapel Gallery into a space that
references and extrapolates upon the structure of a one-room cabin, but
in a minimal and modern way, with each of their pieces installed within
the constructed environment.
Cabin opens with a
public reception on Friday, August 19 from 6pm until 8pm. The exhibition
continues at the Chapel Gallery until September 9.