April 3, 2014 - Vancouver Art Gallery - Myfanwy MacLeod, or There and Back Again
April 3, 2014

Myfanwy MacLeod, or There and Back Again

Myfanwy MacLeod, Or There and Back Again, 2014. Exhibition view, 
Vancouver Art Gallery, 2014. Photo: Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art

Myfanwy MacLeod
Or There and Back Again

March 8–June 8, 2014

Vancouver Art Gallery
750 Hornby Street
Vancouver BC V6Z 2H7


Since the mid-1990s, Vancouver-based artist Myfanwy MacLeod has become widely known for making art that traverses the boundaries that define high culture and mass entertainment in a satirical investigation of social power. On display at the Vancouver Art Gallery from March 8 to June 8, Myfanwy MacLeod, Or There and Back Again features sculpture, painting and photography created by the artist over the past decade, uncovering new meanings and intersections within iconic episodes in popular culture and the history of modern art. 

“The Vancouver Art Gallery is honoured to present the work of Myfanwy MacLeod, an outstanding Canadian artist,” said the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Director Kathleen S. Bartels. “Her work brings together an eclectic set of references, from conceptual art and Minimalism to motifs salvaged from popular literature, music and cinema.”

Myfanwy MacLeod, or There and Back Again highlights a selection of new works produced specifically for this exhibition. These include Stack, a large-scale wall-mounted series of screen printed paintings that resembles both a stack of Marshall amplifiers used by the iconic rock band Led Zeppelin to produce heavily amplified sound for stadium concerts and the minimalist sculpture of the influential American artist Donald Judd; and Ramble On, a 1977 Chevrolet Camaro that has been stripped of its engine and much of its bodywork, then mounted on a steel “rotisserie” stand as if it’s a beast in the process of being roasted. Additional works include The Emptiness and Lost Inside, monumental versions of heavy-metal logos that evoke the industrial and masculine character of minimalist sculpture, and Albert Walker, an oversized home entertainment unit that contains replicas of buds from a strain of marijuana named after a notorious Canadian con artist and murderer.

The exhibition’s title refers to J.R.R. Tolkien’s popular fantasy novel The Hobbit, or There and Back Again and the traces of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy that can be found in Led Zeppelin’s song lyrics. This reference is intended to evoke the experience of a journey or quest in which encounters with strange and surprising scenarios initiate a process of discovery that challenges and transforms traditional perceptions of the commonplace. 

Noting that “pop culture is the language I know,” MacLeod takes familiar objects and images from cartoons, movie posters, record albums and soft-core porn magazines and satirically shifts their form or context in order to make visible the way they shape our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. “Myfanwy’s work is layered with humour, fantasy and allusions to forbidden desire. It’s simultaneously amusing and disconcerting. It situates the art world as a mirror of larger social structures by drawing attention to the way concepts such as privilege, value and gender are embedded in commonly held perceptions of ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture, ” said the exhibition’s curator, Grant Arnold. 

Myfanwy MacLeod, Or There and Back Again is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and Museum London and curated by Grant Arnold, Audain Curator of British Columbia Art, Vancouver Art Gallery and Cassandra Getty, Curator of Art, Museum London. This exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by the co-curators, Brady Cranfield, Cassandra Getty, Joseph Monteyne and Kathy Slade, co-published with Black Dog Publishing. 

Related events at the Vancouver Art Gallery: 
Music Appreciation Society presents Led Zeppelin
Tuesday, April 8, 7pm
“hey, hey, mama, said the way you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove.” The Music Appreciation Society presents a panel discussion and performance of Led Zeppelin covers by an ad-hoc Led Zeppelin tribute band comprised of adolescents.

Lecture: Susan Fast
Tuesday, May 20, 7pm
Scholar of Musicology, Music and Gender Studies, Susan Fast delivers a lecture about Led Zeppelin fan culture and her book In the Houses of the Holy: Led Zeppelin on the Power of Rock Music.

Media information
Debra Zhou: T +604 662 4722 / M +604 671 2358 / dzhou [​at​] vanartgallery.bc.ca

About The Vancouver Art Gallery
The Vancouver Art Gallery is a not-for-profit organization supported by its members, individual donors, corporate funders, foundations, the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts. We thank everyone for their continuing generosity.


Vancouver Art Gallery presents Myfanwy MacLeod, or There and Back Again
Vancouver Art Gallery
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