GVPL Bruce Hutchison Visual

“O Tell Me” by Victoria Edgarr @ GVPL Bruce Hutchison Branch

20 January – 18 April 2023
GVPL Bruce Hutchison
Saanich Commonwealth Place 4636 Elk Lake Dr.
MWFS 10am-6pm / TTh 10am-7pm

Artist Statement:

The installation “O Tell Me ” is like a display of archaeological ‘finds’ from ‘Antiquity’.

The ‘artifacts’, images and text, were found and selected from a body of artwork spanning forty-five years. They are the landmarks on a journey of discovery.

Digging through my studio I discovered fragments and incomplete or forgotten works. By imagining their placement together in an installation their purpose became apparent.

A mask pulled from a plaster cast years ago could now be ‘recognized’ and given a name, “After Agamemnon”. A stick of plaster encrusted with brass ‘findings’ is discovered to be part of a brooch and necklace set. I filled the empty cups with clear gloss acrylic. Over time, blue patina ‘gems’ appeared: “Bijoux pour une Sirene sans mer “(mother/sea).

“O Tell Me ” is a metaphorical journey using images, words and objects from a process of accretion, accumulation, and convergence. The ‘artifacts’ speak of the task of piecing together a narrative without historical records. As the artist, I both lay the trail and follow the trail.

This is the archaeology of the buried self.

Yellowing with time, the paper remembers.

Underlying my work is a fascination with modern concepts of reproduction and multiplicity, and the ancient act of leaving traces and imprints. Investigating the depth and resonance of my cultural ancestors gives me a perspective on what is lost when cultures are destroyed.

The accordion books are a group of poems called “Homecoming”. ‘Homecoming’ is a modern adoption term and ‘Homecoming’ is a major theme in Homer’s Odyssey. I was brought up in a thoroughly scriptural culture. Tracing a literary lineage from “The Little Mermaid” of Hans Christian Anderson to the Sirenes of Homer appealed to me as a way to authentically claim heritage.

As an adoptee, at home with the sense of straddling two worlds, I adopted The Odyssey as the fable or parable, a fictive world, through which I could allow myself to tell myself my story. As I wrote I assumed all roles: male /female, monster / god, coward / hero. I told myself the unspoken, unspeakable story that had been officially erased. I must deduce a past from the evidence embedded in me. I look in the mirror as if examining an ‘artifact’.

In the 1950’s a basis for a successful adoption was a complete rupture of bond and information. For me my ‘closed’ or “blank slate’ adoption, with its with redacted birth certificate, posed some challenging ontological questions into the nature of the ‘Real’. Is she your “real” sister? Who are your “real” parents? Five-year olds are curious.

This notion of ‘blank slate’ or ‘Tabula Rasa’ is culturally embedded in European history as part of a rationale for our colonialism. ‘Terra Nullius’; there was no one here before us, nothing before now. The absence of knowledge of ‘the past’ paves the way for an un-encumbered ‘now’. Reconciliation requires self-recognition, requires looking, digging up, acknowledging.

“O Tell Me ” celebrates the depth and persistence of human cultures, the efforts of making and remaking a continuous path through time, in the face of disturbance and ruptures.

About the Artist:
Victoria Edgarr is a visual artist based in Victoria BC. Her main medium is work on paper with printmaking, book arts, and related multi-media. Her work connects the personal with collective histories and mythologies.


Sirene’s Flight