Inspired by the surreal works of Dali, Otto Dix and James Ensor, Victoria British Columbia artist Carollyne Yardley has added another genre to the mix – Squirrealism. Bizarre. Whimsical. Confusing. Take your pick. They all describe Yardley’s fascination with the familiar rodent as an artistic motif.
“I am a storyteller at heart,” she says “and my work is based on imagery, characters, misfits and alienation. I am exploring development through humour, portraiture, pop culture and absurdity.”
No dispute there. Yardley is a former software developer and a successful entrepreneur with a fine arts training. In 2008, she gave up her former career refine and perfect her unique take on surrealism. A selection of her new works is presently on display at the Fazakas Gallery in midtown Vancouver as part of a larger show called SHE. SHE examines gender politics in modern society. How do women artists perceive the impact of gender on their work and career? Do they even want their gender to be a discussion point? The show involves three contemporary artists, of which Yardley is one. La Tiesha Fazakas, the owner and curator of the gallery says all three women have taken a different approach to the topic confirming that Yardley’s works “are very assertive, talking about the female experience.”
Assertive yet playful. Humour can convey a strong message. Yardley refers to iconographic Madonna and the Birth of Ideas, in which a ceramic squirrel sits on the Madonna’s lap, as a direct reference to how Squirrealism was born. “Ideas are the food of life for me,” she says. “Many mothers would exclaim that their children provide them with the same nourishment.”
Madonna and the Birth of Ideas
Fazakas adds that “most of the people I know remember those ceramic squirrels from when they were kids. So here you are, the Madonna is holding onto your nostalgia, she’s holding onto your childhood. It’s gone from being a fetish object to being a meaningful object.”
A childhood memory or the baby Jesus? It’s up to you. Yardley says the squirrel can mean anything you want it to be. Squirrealism, as an element of the large show SHE, is on display until June 20th.