What stories do we tell ourselves about our lives and our environments? For artist Liz Parkinson, this question is more than an artist’s statement – it embodies a curiosity about the natural world that dates back to her childhood, when she combed the shores of Lake Ontario gathering leaves, driftwood and stones from the storm tossed sand.
A similar inquisitiveness informs the media she uses for her celebrated works, which include collage, printmaking, painting and drawing. “To get the particular tone or shape or texture that I want, I switch media all the time,” explains Liz. Her home studio in Port Hope is a testament to both her exacting craftsmanship and her commitment to curating enchanting objects.
The enforced solitude of COVID inspired Liz to ponder the role of the garden in our human environment and collective imagination. “I gave a lot of thought to the idea of paradise as a garden; how it’s a construct that comes from our own experience and desire. My idea of paradise is different from yours and over time it changes.”
Liz has been transforming that enquiry into a project she calls The Tangled Garden, in which familiar flora and fauna are represented in decorative styles that reflect particular cultures, geographical areas and historical epochs. Her hope is that the finished installation will challenge viewers to question and expand upon their own stories about the environment – and in doing so, see the familiar in a whole new way.