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Echoing Sky
Natalie Hunter

Niagara Artists Centre (NAC)
Plate Glass Gallery
12 July – 14 October 2023

Exhibition Statement

Relying on the immaterial staples of photography – light and time – with the material sensibilities of sculpture, Natalie Hunter’s unique photo-based installations in Echoing Sky reflect on our relationships with the intimate spaces our bodies encounter and explore concepts of space, perception, time, and memory. At once colourful and sensorial, yet poetic, the installations in Echoing Sky re-contextualize the loss of a beloved family maple tree, an anxiety over an ever changing atmosphere, and a desire to preserve the physical and ephemeral spaces we create for ourselves. The interplay between image, sculpture, and light within the architectural space of the Plate Glass Gallery windows creates reflections, latent images, distortions, and semi-translucent surfaces that echo like a memory recalled in the mind. 

Billows and Boughs (2019) attempts to preserve a beloved family maple tree long after it’s been destroyed. Photographs depicting this tree throughout many seasons over the span of one year are printed on translucent silk and drape over salvaged hand shaped maple. Tracing each branch, the silk photographs resemble a second skin encasing each form in a protective yet vulnerable layer. Subtle air currents shift and sway the silk with the rhythms of the building. During daylight hours the silk material becomes semi-translucent revealing the organic architecture underneath. At night each silk photograph becomes an undulating sculptural object. The interplay between image and object creates a collection of impermanent memory objects that reflect the permanence this tree once represented.  

Edge of Sky (2020-21) captures the sun as it moved across the sky over a period of many months. On a clear day, sometimes hazy with the threat of wildfires, or filled with tumultuous storm clouds, our relationship to the sky can be a universal human experience, but is different for every individual. Printed on transparent film and activated by light, Edge of Sky drapes down the wall or cascades in space while casting latent images of colour and light around the surrounding surfaces in the window gallery. Depending on the time of day, the angle of the sun, or the gallery lighting, Edge of Sky appears different each time it is viewed. The images sway with subtle air movement, bend and curl in space, and wash the walls and floor in colour and light. In this way, the sky is used as an exploration of time and memory as fluid, ever-unfolding experiences.

Together the installations in Echoing Sky respond to the unique properties of Niagara Artists Centre’s Plate Glass Gallery. Overlapping perspectives, layering, draping, folding, light, and air movement create atmospheric spaces and physical encounters that speak to Hunter’s material approaches to time and light in sculpture and image making. Suggesting that our psychological relationships and sensory experiences with the spaces we most frequently inhabit shape our memories through time long after we’ve left them behind.

Artworks Exhibited

  • Natalie Hunter. Edge of Sky. 2020-21. Archival pigment prints on transparent film from 35mm negatives, turned aluminum, birch, light. 
  • Natalie Hunter. Billows and Boughs. 2019. Archival pigment prints on silk draped over hand shaped maple, aluminum, birch, light, air. 

Installation photographs by Natalie Hunter, 2023