Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Phantom Limbs

 ph5 Phantom Limbs is completed. Originally called “52”, it evolved into Phantom Limbs.  My original intention was to carve the small wooden figures over a two year period.  It is a massive project and I thought I could carve each one between other projects.  In the spring of 2010 I was asked to be in the original “pastnow” exhibition with Meryl McMaster, the show was in the graduate gallery of the Ontario College of Art and Design University ( The University of Imagination).  While we were taking down the exhibition I was discussing future projects with Lisa Myers and Suzanne Morrissette.  I mentioned my idea for “52” and they got excited, they said when I complete it, they would like to curate it into a show.  I thought, “ but I don’t even know when its going to be finished.

ph2 A month later Lisa came to me and said pastnow would probably be moving to the Maclaren Art Centre in November and they wanted “Phantom Limbs” (formally 52) for the show.  So instead of carving each figure over a multi year period, I carved all 48 in a six month period, amongst other projects, most notably, Graduate school at Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECU).

ph1 A long time ago grave robbers (anthropologists, ethnographers, etc.) descended upon Haida Gwaii, they took over 460 ancestor remains. The remains ended up in museums and private collections all over the world. The purpose of the Haida repatriation project is to return remains and artworks back to the Haida people.

ph3 When a person loses a body part they describe a phenomenon where they can still feel the limb. Their feet get cold; their hands are tingly; they can feel the wind on their fingertips.  When I found out about the Haida repatriation project, I hadn’t even realised our ancestors were being kept in museums and private collections. Phantom Limbs depicts the transition between the ancestors being kept in museums and  being buried in Bentwood boxes on Haida Gwaii.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

pastnow 2.0 @ The Maclaren Art Centre

pastnow1 Pastnow is a double solo exhibition at the Maclaren art centre in Barrie Ontario. The two artists exhibiting are Luke J. Parnell (me) and Meryl McMaster. The show is curated by Lisa Myers and Suzanne Morissette. This show is an evolution of the original Pastnow at the OCAD Graduate gallery in early 2010. We went from one smallish room shared by Meryl and myself to two lavish galleries. The graduate gallery is obviously a student gallery and we were treated well, no complaints, but the Maclaren is a professional art centre and our treatment was exemplary. The Maclaren went above and beyond, I can’t say enough.

pastnow4 Pastnow 2.0 includes all the work in the original pastnow with one new artwork, “Phantom Limbs”. pastnow3 Phantom Limbs had the working title of “52”, it was a merging of two concepts that I wanted to work with. I was interested in working with multiples for some time but couldn’t find the right project and I wanted to create an artwork that told the story of the Haida Repatriation project.

pastnow6 I wrote this post to thank all involved in the Past now exhibition at the Maclaren Art Centre; Meryl McMaster, the talented young photographer who is the other artist in this double solo show; Lisa Myers and Suzanne Morissette the exceptional co-curators; Ben Portis, the enthusiastic and patient head curator at the Maclaren; Niall Donaghy, without whom the show could not have been installed (seriously, this guy is awesome); Carolyn Bell Farrell and others at the Maclaren who were helpful and supportive.