Elizabeth Adlam

Artist

Introduction

Elizabeth Adlam is an artist whose research is regionally focused in Muskoka, Ontario.

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Education

2015    MFA, University of Alberta

2007    BFA, Mount Allison University

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Statement

Sails spread out against the lowering grey sky and a lone boat heads into the storm. Wind stirs the water, and white caps ride the waves, threatening to overwhelm the little boat. Water rushes up and over into the cockpit. The wind fills the sails, shoves the boom to one side and nearly overturns the boat as the centreboard threatens to break the surface. The sailor leaps to the high side of the boat, reefs on the lines to bring in the main and regain control, while firmly steering into the wind.

Encapsulating a singular moment in space and time I attempt to express through paint, the essence of nature and the human relationship with the environment. Muskoka is my region of focus and more specifically two of the large lakes within it, Lake Muskoka and Lake Rosseau. Experiences drawn from both my youth and adulthood are the source of my inspiration. It flows from the long standing family history which has its roots in the early settler experiences popularized in the works by Susanna Moodie and Catherine Parr Trail. My interests are in exploring the established human presence in the lake region that is a melding of the past and present. The research I have done on European and Canadian landscape painting has brought me to an examination of how to visually communicate to my audience.

Sailboating in the Muskoka region came into its own in the latter half of the last century. The formation of clubs and regattas brought together like-minded people interested in learning how to sail different classes of sailboats and in competing with one another in racing events. Sailing awakens a competitive spirit that tests a sailor’s skill in managing the conditions set by the natural surroundings. Perhaps not surprisingly, this has become romanticised in regions such as this and other regions where sailboating has become a popular pastime.

Through these paintings I endeavour to portray the individual’s engagement with nature. These are invented spaces that are rooted in nostalgic memories and shift into present day experiences. The endless assortment of colours, mark making, application of paint and cloud patterns has become the central focus to emphasize the grandeur of nature: how light filters through the clouds, that are lain upon the sky in wispy or billowing formations, allowing it to dance across the water bouncing back onto the tree line. At a time when communities are becoming less engaged with natural environments because of the impact of urbanization and technology, it is important to engage in creative practices that reflect on our historic and contemporary relationship with the natural world.

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