UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sequestered elements Fowler, Joseph


This exhibition and accompanying essay explore objects of cultural significance from my home, the island of Newfoundland. The objects and my connection to them have inspired both my approach to installation and materials. Growing up and living in Newfoundland for most of my life has shaped my artistic output in ways I continue to discover, not just in terms of subject matter but also in the act of making my art work. I see my artistic practice as one that expands on the rich tradition of creating things – tools, furniture, shelter, vehicles – from whatever is lying around. This traditional way of making objects is inextricably linked to Newfoundland’s identity, as a place that celebrates resourcefulness in the face of scarcity. Lobster traps, fishing nets, small houses, anchors, boats, warm clothes, rubber boots – these are some of human-made objects that dominate Newfoundland’s visual imagery. In my sculptural work I recreate and reflect on these objects as part of my cultural identity. I change their contexts by modifying their materials and introducing contemporary mass-consumer objects into their traditional forms. In this process the objects reveal their origins and layered complex meanings. I have chosen fishing nets, lobster traps, killicks, and ugly sticks as a point of departure in this exploration. These objects are often proudly displayed in front yards, homes, sheds, gift shops, and restaurants as part of the visual culture and environment. They have many functions; they are practical and often related to economic and industrial purposes but they also function as displays and decorations denoting a region and a people, providing a physical embodiment of culture. Newfoundland has a unique culture of creativity which is present in these objects and embodies a distinct cultural aesthetic. Supplementary materials available at: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/72400

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