Past and Present

An exhibition of drawings and photographs by Diana Thorneycroft

Mayberry Fine Art is pleased to present Past and Present, an exhibition of drawings and photographs by Diana Thorneycroft in the gallery’s Dundas Street West location in Toronto. The collection features drawings by Thorneycroft completed in the last two years, with reference to her body of photographic work from the past decade.

Diana Thorneycroft has exhibited around the world and across Canada, garnering accolades– including the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Making a Mark Award in 2009 and the Manitoba Arts Award of Distinction in 2016. She is the recipient of numerous awards including an Assistance to Visual Arts Long-term Grant from the Canada Council, several Senior Arts Grants from the Manitoba Arts Council and a Fleck Fellowship from the Banff Centre for the Arts. Her work was also the subject of national radio documentaries and a CBC national documentary for television. 

Thorneycroft has gained a significant reputation for confronting issues at the core of the human condition. The body and the unconscious inform her photographs, sculptures and multimedia. Thorneycroft’s work embodies both horror and comedy, often subverting the expectations of her audience. She weaponizes history, mythology and nostalgia, coupling dark humour with social critique. 

In her latest drawings, Thorneycroft gives her subconscious free rein. The artist wrote, in a Galleries West article sharing stories from isolation in the first weeks of the pandemic, “To let that happen requires intense concentration– and that is the gift of the moment. Any anxiety I am experiencing is both embraced and held at bay at the same time. I feel settled and insecure, safe and vulnerable, confidently messed up.” The resulting vibrating body of figurative work is a bizarre lexicon of human congress. Her Boschian figures and the particular form of pandemonium represented are the manifestations of a brave and whimsical creator.

The exhibition also includes photographic works from Thorneycroft’s The Canadiana Martyrdom Series, A People’s History and the Group of Seven Awkward Moments which also reveal her wry humour. In her photographic series, the Group of Seven Awkward Moments, reproductions of paintings by Tom Thomson, Emily Carr and the Group of Seven are used as backdrops. In the foreground a fabricated set is constructed that contrasts with their iconic landscapes. All of the images are intended to subvert the upstanding idealism the Group of Seven paintings have come to embody. Using a similar material strategy, the photographs in The Canadiana Martyrdom Series include paraphernalia related to Canadian tourism, identity, and culture to discuss spectacles of martyrdom and apathy to human suffering. In A People’s History, Thorneycroft looks at the horrific history of crimes and atrocities perpetrated against vulnerable people in Canada. 

Diana Thorneycroft: “A lot of people think things that are dark but they suppress them or they don’t talk about them. For me, it’s fertile ground for making the work.”

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