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Amy Shackleton, a gravity artist, has spent the last decade creating works of art that bring nature back into cities. While on a search for sustainable buildings she found herself standing in landscapes ravaged by climate change.
Melting glaciers, burning forests, and rising water.
Now, she’s bringing the impacts of climate change from across Canada closer to home, with her new instillation exhibition called “Playing with Fire & Ice” at the Museum of Dufferin.
“In that moment, I knew I needed to paint this, I needed to show the world that this [climate change] is happening close to home, it’s not just in faraway places and we need to pay attention right now,” explains Shackleton. “Playing with Fire & Ice is a call to action for the future.”
The new art exhibit begins with a large mural painting located in the main gallery of the local museum. At the centre of the mural is the Museum of Dufferin and a windmill reminiscent of those found in the communities of North Dufferin County, both of which are set against a fiery red sky and partially submerged in icy waters.
“I traveled around the area and talked with the climate change coordinator to try to come up with a piece that would help trigger conversation about climate change, and what’s going on right here in Dufferin County,” said Shackleton.
Shackleton has also collaborated with digital artist Julian Brown to bring an augmented reality experiences to the mural.
“When you look through any device or the provided IPad, it appears as though digital icebergs are floating around you, you’re standing knee deep in water and burning limbs from trees are floating around you,” said Shackleton. “It really makes you feel like this is actually happening.”
The art exhibit continues on to the Museum of Dufferin’s silo gallery, located on the fourth floor, where Shackleton’s canvas pieces such as “Break the Ice”, a blending of Iqaluit, Toronto and Vancouver can be found. It’s also where visitors can further see her unique technique in painting.
Shackleton, who is originally from Bowmanville, graduated from York University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and it was around this time she began experimenting with drip painting.
“I first started working with drips to bring a more natural, organic quality into my work,” said Shackleton. “Because all of my work combines nature in the city, I wanted to create the organic forms with something as natural as gravity and liquid paint.”
Beginning with brushes as her tool, Shackleton recalls the difficulty in controlling the flow of paint, and eventually making a trip to a kitchen supply store where she bought a bunch of ketchup bottles to use instead. After years of experimenting, she was able to create a consistency in her paint mix to manipulate the drip into a straight line.
“The difference with my work is that I’m creating representational forms with drips. There’s recognizable forms like urban and natural areas, whereas most of the drip artists I’ve seen create abstracts works.”
Speaking about her pieces in the “Play With Fire & Ice” exhibit, Shackleton said people will be able to see both an optimistic side and an apocalyptic side depending on their interpretation. Is nature blending with the urban or is it taking over?
Shackleton’s “Playing with Fire & Ice” opened at the Museum of Dufferin on Oct. 21 and will run until Dec. 18.
Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press