Petrichor | Garden Follies

The MacLaren Art Centre Presents 2023 Summer Exhibitions

Opening Celebration: July 7 / 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Images (left to right): Nicholas Crombach, Fleuron II; Nurielle Stern, Signal Wicking.

Nicholas Crombach and Nurielle Stern

June 17 – September 17, 2023
Opening Reception: July 7, 6:30pm – 9:00pm
Artists & Curator Walking Tour at 7:00pm

Curated by Sheila McMath

“Art is enchantment and artists have the right of spells.”
–Jeanette Winterson

Petrichor is a carefully crafted fictional world, an imaginarium that pulls viewers in through visual enchantment and offers rich and varied meanings to those who choose to spend time, reflect, and engage.

Large-scale skeletal greenhouse structures, dark walls, and cool lighting link the exhibition spaces, orchestrating a sense of visual cohesion. Petrichor contains familiar plant and animal forms – a grouping of birds, a collection of bones, tree branches, human hands, honeycombs, and seashells. As viewers linger, the visual language of horticulture and the perfect order of the garden ‘cracks’ to reveal other meanings.

Crombach’s Concert of Birds references natural history collections, with the facial expressions of life-sized aluminum birds frozen in distress. In Fleuron and Garden Wall, bright flowers are pressed between broken glass and encased in bases of concrete muck and architectural ruins, further challenging the ordered nature of our built environments.

With Stern’s Signal Wicking, human hands gesture, floating in a dream-like way that emphasizes their vulnerability. In A Copper Nail to Kill as Tree, Stern reinforces this dream-like quality when one discovers that the tables float a few inches off the floor, with one leg of each table in the shape of a drooping ceramic arm. The arms read as resting or ‘dead’, making the work, like many others in Petrichor, hover between dream and nightmare.

Nicholas Crombach (BFA 2012, OCAD University, Toronto) is an artist working in Kingston, ON. Crombach has been awarded the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Award. His recent solo exhibitions include Behind Elegantly Carved Wooden Doors (Art Mûr Montreal in 2017) and The End Of The Chase (New Art Projects, London, in 2018, Art Mûr Berlin in 2018, and Art Mûr Montréal in 2019). His work is in the collections of the City of Ottawa and the Woodstock Art Gallery. In 2021, Crombach completed Horse and Cart, a public artwork commissioned by the City of Kingston for Victoria Park. In 2022, Crombach was artist in residence at the Studios at MASS MoCA. Crombach’s most upcoming solo exhibition at Art Mûr Montréal will take place from May 6 – June 17 2023.

Nurielle Stern (MFA 2014, Alfred University, NY) is a Toronto-based sculpture and installation artist. Stern has been recognized for her work in ceramics with the national Winifred Shantz Award for Canadian Ceramics (2019), the NCECA Emerging Artist Fellowship (2020), and Craft Ontario’s Helen Copeland Memorial Award in Ceramics (2022). Her work is in the collections of the Gardiner Museum, Toronto, ON, the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, Waterloo, ON, the Art Gallery of Burlington, Burlington, ON, and the Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred, NY. Her large-scale installation, Fable, was commissioned by the Gardiner Museum in 2019. In 2020, Stern was a visiting artist at California State University, Long Beach Center for Contemporary Ceramics funded by Canada Council Arts Abroad.

Sheila McMath (MFA 2001, University of Waterloo) is a curator, artist, facilitator, community organizer and current Artistic Director of Inter Arts Matrix. McMath’s work in the arts has maintained a balance of work with larger institutions and direct involvement with artist-run initiatives. She has been published numerous times in FUSION magazine and various exhibition catalogues. McMath is also a founding member of Tri-City Stopgap, an artist collective that hosts large-scale exhibitions in marginal or transitional spaces. McMath curated an exhibition by Susan Low-Beer called Specimen that was exhibited at the Riverbrink Art Museum and is scheduled to be shown at Espace Pierre-Debain for spring 2023 and at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery summer 2023. McMath began working with Crombach and Stern in discussions for the Whale Fall exhibition in 2018.

Norman Robert Catchpole, Catchpole’s Garden Folly, 2023

Garden Follies

June 17 – October 22, 2023
Opening Reception: July 7, 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Using the garden folly as a starting point, members of the Barrie Art Club submitted works that consider how humans have attempted to order, control, and shape the natural world. Taken together, the ten selected artists illustrate local perspectives on the impact of human desires to exert control over our environments from the past, present, and future. Recentering the power and agency of the natural world, this collection of work prompts viewers to reflect on their imbalanced relationship with the land on which we depend to flourish.

This project has served as an important opportunity to renew the longstanding relationship between the MacLaren Art Centre and the Barrie Art Club. Engaging over thirty-five regional artists from the Club in the exploration of new themes, ideas, and media, this project is one of the many ways that the MacLaren strives to nourish and strengthen ties with arts organizations from across Simcoe County.

About the Barrie Art Club:
Founded in 1949, the Barrie Art Club has grown into a vibrant community resource for artists and art lovers alike working in and around Barrie. With over 200 members, the Barrie Art Club supports artists working in all mediums across all levels, ranging from professionals, amateurs, and those who simply want to learn more about art. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to explore their creativity.

For more information on our current and upcoming exhibitions, events, and programs, please visit

37 Mulcaster Street, Barrie, Ontario, L4M 3M2

Facebook: @maclarenart
Instagram: @maclarenart
Twitter: @MacLarenArt