March 4 – April 9, 2022
The Main Gallery
Adrian Cooke’s work has always been directly influenced by the impact of activity in the landscape, and by how man-made forms, patterns and textures, indigenous and unique to the prairie region, transform our relationship with our surroundings and inform our sense of place. He continues in this vein through the exploration of one of the most iconographic elements of the prairies – barbed-wire, the “Devil’s Rope”. The sculptures and watercolours are inspired by the twisted, coiled wire and sharp barbed knots that make this material so prevalent and practical as a form of control in our landscape and on the world stage.
Barbed-wire in contemporary society has meanings and symbolism with both historical and political connotations. Controversial since its inception in the mid-nineteenth century, it was first used as a means of dividing property and controlling and isolating people and animals. Further, it was used as a tool of repression and manipulation in times of human conflict. A man-made creation, barbed-wire encroaches and divides, transforming our interaction with our environment.
The sculptures are carved from laminated sheets of wood which are glued, cut, shaped, burned and sanded, then hand-rubbed with multiple layers of enamel stain that creates a textured faux-bronze appearance, reflecting the nature of barbed-wire which is often rusted and worn from the elements. This interpretation of The Devil’s Rope expresses how Cooke sees human interaction continually reshaping and redefining our relationship with each other and our environment.
Adrian Cooke is an artist/sculptor with a consistent record of both solo and group exhibitions across Canada since 1974. After graduating with honours from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, Alberta, Adrian pursued post-diploma studies at the New York Studio School in New York City. Canada Council Grants provided Adrian with the opportunity to travel abroad where he worked in the historical atmosphere of England and Italy. He has also participated in summer sessions at the Banff Centre, Alberta and Emma Lake, Saskatchewan.
Cooke was a long-time employee of the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery and Art Department, and has always been a strong supporter of the arts. He is a continuing member of Southern Alberta Art Gallery, and has acted as juror and advisor to various arts groups in Alberta.
Among the institutions that include his work in their collections are: City of St. Laurent, Quebec; Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt, Toronto; Concordia University, Montreal; The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia; Halifax; the Canada Council Art Bank; The Glenbow Museum, Calgary; the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton; and the University of Lethbridge.
Cooke continues to live and work in Lethbridge, Alberta, pursuing exhibition and artistic opportunities related to his sculptural pursuits.
Opening Performance Friday, March 4th, at 7 pm
In the spirit of collaboration and support, Harcourt House has partnered with the Edmonton’s vibrant contemporary experimental music and dance community to inaugurate a collaborative pilot project with the launch of this special performance. The opening night will feature a presentation of music for solo violin by two internationally renowned Canadian contemporary composers: an Alberta-born and New York-based Erin Rogers and her composition “The Shape of Things” and Piotr Grella-Mozejko (pron. Pyotr Grella-Mozheyko), an Edmonton-based Canadian-Polish composer and multi-media performer and his composition “Kristall-Traum III: Musik für Aleksandra B.”. Their compositions musically delineate the shapes of the forms of the works in the exhibitions and perfectly align with the character of both shows. Both compositions for solo violin will be performed by Tatiana Warszynski, a Canadian-Polish violinist with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and a former concertmaster of the Edmonton Chamber Players. Tatiana’s performance will be animated by a very impressive choreography/dance by Marynia Fekecz, a Polish-born and Edmonton-based choreographer and dancer. Harcourt House is grateful to Erin Rogers and Piotr Grella-Mozejko for a generous donation of their composers’ honoraria to Harcourt House in support of this pilot project.
Top Image: Tendril (detail), enamel/wood/metal reinforcing, 2017
Image courtesy of the artist