Aurora Cultural Centre’s Red and Blue Galleries seem the perfect historic venue to host Rebecca Last’s series of large scale poetic paintings that trace our complex interconnectedness with the natural world. Relating experiences of exposure to the elements at her Rice Lake studio, this exhibition titled Cassandra’s garden; tracing shifted ground reminds us of our deeply rooted psychological ties to landscape and how profoundly we are reshaping them. Already evidenced in the 1840’s by the early Canadian settler and botanist Catharine Parr Traill, who also lived and worked at Rice Lake, and described in detail the altering of the area’s forests, grasslands and waterways. These paintings, grounded in observation and place, are not literal landscapes. Through myth and memory, Last’s work ties our own experiences of nature to the visual, sharing the metaphor of garden, rich in cultural significance, to the ancient seer Cassandra who might offer reflection as we consider how we cultivate our landscapes and manipulate the geography of our planet.
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