Phyllis Gordon: In Praise of Lichens

Project Space, Open Studio Printmaking Centre

Detail of collaged assemblage Phaeophyscia adiastola

Phyllis Gordon: In Praise of Lichens

March 3 – April 15, 2023
Open Studio, Toronto

Lichens: infinitely varied, ancient, ubiquitous, slow-growing, tiny, still, silent. Lichens are a foundational element in the development of plant life on earth. They unite differences, both algae and fungi, and numerous other life forms, exemplifying collaboration and symbiosis and the absence of binary hierarchies. Moreover, they are marvellously intricate and beautiful.

The prints in this exhibition each feature a particular lichen found in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. This imagery emerged after Gordon spent considerable time in Ontario forests, supplemented with library and online research. The prints appear as specimen-like images of the lichens, many times larger than they exist in nature. They are created using the reduction method of woodcut relief, printing by hand onto Japanese paper.

Xanthoria elegans woodcut

Gordon has often worked with repetition in printmaking, exploring the possibilities that arise when repeatedly printing the same block within a print to convey distance, movement, and expansion in an indefinite progression. Here, she combines digital and analogue approaches to print, unconventionally printing scanned elements of the woodcuts onto mailing labels, which are then cut out, collaged, and montaged to convey a sense of the lichens in situ.

Phyllis Gordon’s practice in drawing and printmaking is primarily an engagement with the natural environment, both as an observer of its beauty and as an artist anxious about the climate crisis we have created.

As a young woman, Gordon studied art in Vancouver, Montreal and London, England. After several years following an alternate career, she returned to art, studying at The Toronto School of Art, OCAD, Fleming College (Haliburton), and Open Studio Printmaking. She has exhibited in solo, two-person and and group exhibitions including Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, Open Studio Printmaking Centre and Propeller Gallery, all in Toronto, as well as Project Space in London, Mississauga Art Gallery, Artworks Oakville, Colborne Art Gallery, and the Orillia Museum of Art and History.

Detail of collaged assemblage Flavoparmelia caperata

Open Studio
104-401 Richmond St W, Toronto.

Tuesday – Friday: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday: 12:00 – 5:00 pm