Collection: Catherine Farish: Sacred and Profane

I am pleased to present in this exhibition at Studio 21 in Halifax, not only the two pieces that were selected for the international touring project titled Cicatrix, but also “Possibilities in Purgatory”, a small series that was inspired by this project.

"Cicatrix was funded by Arts Council England, incorporating digital, sound, installation, drawing and film. The title recalls the scarred and tortured ancient ground of Salisbury Plain where many troops, including Canadian, prepared for battle overseas. I was invited as the Canadian representative in this WW1 commemorative exhibition at the Swindon Museum in England and then at Atelier Circulaire in Montreal.

In 1914, the Canadian Army endured one of the wettest and coldest winters ever on Salisbury Plain. While visiting England, I walked the Plain and experienced first-hand the mud and clay that stuck to my shoes for months afterwards; the image of which permeated the artwork like a haunting memory.

In my research I came across an image of indigenous soldiers, some of whom were photographed in their traditional battle dress. I was struck by the irony and power of this image. Several indigenous soldiers were decorated as war heroes and on their return in 1918 were not given the same benefits or financial support as non-indigenous veterans. I decided I wanted to honour their contribution to Canada and Britain and at the same time, point out the irony and discrimination.

I also wanted to include the rich history and scarred ancient landscape of Salisbury Plain. I found that overlaying images of old maps, such as those of Old Sarum and Winklebury Hill, combining these with depictions of barbed wire, fabricated trench maps and indigenous soldiers allowed a collage of distressed surfaces to emerge  echoing the chaos of war."