By Wendy Elliott
Holly Carr’s new solo exhibition, Light in the Forest, is a must-see show at the Acadia Art Gallery in Wolfville.
A much-loved Kings County artist, Carr has created the duality of childhood in the painted silk world she has created. There are dark and scary woods to pass through before entering into a circle of verdant forest.
Carr has created the happy inner world of her youth in 10-foot panels, complete with a forest bed and musical accompaniment. The brightly-coloured woodland is full of whimsy and fantasy.
The installation explores nostalgia and childhood memories and is comprised of large-scale paintings. Carr, who has been working on the show for a year, illustrated the environment of storybooks with young animals and bird’s nests.
Working with her friend, Paula Rockwell, who composed a song for the exhibition, child-appropriate music awaits viewers inside the inviting forest circle.
On the dark side, the viewer is immersed in veiled apparitions and death threats. Trees loom and evil creatures lurk.
As a child, Carr says she was drawn to the details that surrounded her: from wallpaper patterns, strangers, church hats, swooping ravens and the neighbours’ underwear hanging on the line. She has used past experiences that bridge both fear and awe to create a complex realm, while she examines the relationship between myths, fears and safe places.
Carr can recall growing up in Beaver Bank and hearing about a five-year-old boy who was lost in the woods. The child died, and Carr has been haunted by his story.
Twenty years ago, Carr first began painting new worlds on painted silk. She created a circular work at the Natural History Museum in Halifax that depicted Nova Scotia flora and fauna. Now, she has pulled this giant exhibition out of her imagination.
A graduate of NSCAD, Carr has gained national acclaim for her unique style of silk painting. She has participated in numerous exhibitions and designed for theatre productions, as well as public installations. She is well-known for her performances where she paints live on stage, which have included a cross-Canada tour with Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Café.
In the last year, Carr has been busy performing in places like Hamilton and Toronto. She painted large pieces recently for the Port of Wines in Halifax.
The will be an artist’s talk on Oct. 18 at 2 p.m., followed by a hands-on artist workshop on Nov. 3. There is also the opportunity for school and community groups to book tours and hands-on workshops, facilitated by Laurie Dalton, gallery director. Dalton hopes the exhibition will travel beyond Wolfville.
The gallery is open Tuesdays-Sundays from 12-4 p.m. Light in the Forest will be on display until Dec. 1.