Anne O’Callaghan: Self Portrait with Emily Dickinson

Self Portrait with Emily Dickinson-1800 poems

Anne O’Callaghan: Self Portrait with Emily Dickinson

Cedar Ridge Creative Centre
September 24 to October 13, 2022
Opening Reception: September 25, 1 to 4 p.m.
Artist Talk and Poetry, by Anne O’Callaghan: Sunday October 2nd, 1 to 4 p.m.

Self-Portrait with Emily Dickinson is a multimedia exhibition documenting my engagement with nature, poetry, and the poems of Emily Dickinson. This new work is the subject of O’Callaghans exhibition at Cedar Ridge Creative Art Centre in Scarborough. Included in the exhibition is a suite of photographic images of plants, Emily Dickinson’s poems on mirrored stainless steel, and Where are you From – Transplanted an artist book, part of her ongoing research on the origin of plants. The exhibition also includes images from Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium and poems by Imtiaz Dharker, Mairéad Donnellan, Jeffrey Douglas, Margaret Rodgers, T. S. Elliot, Jan Zwicky, Emily Dickinson and O’Callaghan.

O’Callaghan sees the exhibition as an opportunity to investigate the relationship between images and text. When she started her hunt for the history and origin of plants some 25 years ago, O’Callaghan discovered Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium, and stayed to read her poetry. But her interest did not stop there. Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium opened a pandora box of ideas. It became a lens to reimagine the function of art-making. Plants and poetry are pathways for exploring and re-examining the world.

Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium

At first glance, these artworks appear decorative. The flowers are very beautiful, however, they are deeply informed by the narratives embedded in the history of exploration. All the flowers were transplanted from Africa, Asia and South and Central America to Europe, to North America, their origins long forgotten. This work is another means of looking at Globalization. The long history of transplanting and the dislocation of people, objects, flora and fauna, transported on sailing ships, jetliners and rubber dinghies, moving through time and space. Poetry is a means of remembering, unlike history, the words are not meant to distort the past or the present. Poems a connection to the past, to the culture.

O’Callaghan inherited her approach to art making from her experience of growing up in Ireland. She came from a working-class background and grew up in council housing. Her parents’ narratives and stories shaped her approach to art making and her view of the world we live in. The extent of that early cultural influence impacts her experience of language, place, myth, and literature. She supported her art practice over the years by gardening and designing gardens. Over that time, she extensively researched plants and photographed flowers and gardens globally, from Toronto to Muskoka, Ontario; Italy, England, Mexico, the US, China and Hong Kong. She came to Canada in 1968, 22 years old, 54 years ago. “Trans-planted” has informed her work, much is about displacement in one form or another and always under the covers of a social-political narrative.

Wild Cotton, detail

Born in Ireland, O’Callaghan immigrated to Canada in 1968. Her work has been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Canada, Europe, Australia, USA and Asia. Her most recent exhibitions include: Portals-Gallery Artists at CMS Arts Projects (2022), Self-Portrait with Emily Dickinson, Cedar Ridge Creative Art Centre (2022), Lines in the Sky, solo exhibitions at CMS Art Projects (2022), Utopia! Who’s Listening Now, Visual Arts Centre of Clarington (2018), Vicolo Isola di Mezzo 3/5, Treviso, Italy (2019), Impermanence, B#S Gallery, Italy (2018), and Art in the Time of Exchange, Kunst Keller Krefeld Gallery, Krefeld, Germany (2018). O’Callaghan was co-curator of The Tree Museum from 1998 to 2016. She is a member of CMS Arts Projects, Online, Toronto and Hatchery, a British/French/Canadian artists collective.

With the exception of Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium, which is in the public domain, as images are the property of the artist.

Cedar Ridge Creative Centre a City of Toronto Art Centre is fully accessible.

Cedar Ridge Creative Centre
225 Confederation Drive
Toronto, Ontario, M1G 1B2

For additional information:

Anne O’Callaghan

Andrea Cnudde (she/her)
Cultural Outreach Officer
Cedar Ridge Creative Centre
City of Toronto