The Saint John Arts Centre, Saint John, NB. 2006
An installation of 16 large-scale charcoal drawings, averaging 5 x 6 feet
essaying the cautious physical response of a young cow moose to gallery viewers.
Designed to fit the exhibit space, from the right-side entrance, the animal begins from a resting recline, stands and walks
off on a 16 drawing cycle across the gallery walls. At the end she turns, drops and settles into cautious observation.
The studies themselves are of anatomy, of bone form, mass plane and the locomotive characteristics of a young moose.
In form and function, they are figure drawings. Produced using life studies made with a captive moose,
and a steel and wax animation armature of the animal for posing the walk.
As installation, their cogency lies in scale & unity.
The artist hopes the viewer feels they are in the center of the action, observing but not affecting.
As a whole they animate a walk cycle, a very short film on a very large scale.
A well known figurative painter told the artist during the production of the work he thought they would have been truly dignified figure studies if only they were human. For the artist this supported a core idea of the show; what is it we assume is beneath us in wild nature? Can we cut through anthropomorphic blinders to a more broadly biophilic harmony with representations of nature?
Animal drawing is a crazed pursuit. Maddening even.
Conjuring them raises a series of questions with no guarantee of easy answers,
not without a commitment to one’s memory and emotion.
You feel you’re starting to ‘see’ them, but it’s about the feelings they ignite.
Never speaking their language, just observing fondly from another viewpoint and consciousness.
Bonheur’s Horses fly, but how? Bill Reid’s Ravens live inside you, but how?
For me, the results should be more than a survey of gestures, structures or lazy abstractions,
I want a submission to presence, form and memory. Simply celebration. Or the hint of fear.
Uncovering, remodeling a presence from deep memories of a frigid day, sketching on the East coast,
finding myself being circled and watched in observant silence by a curious young cow moose.
Out of memory, into this stage set, built back in layers.
Memories aren’t virtuosic, but cinematic, incomplete and deeply, indefinably evocative.
These ones are flickering and slowed down like lost frames of film.
Breathing quietly somewhere just out of reach in each peripheral frame.
Cave drawings run amok, with limited method and choices to focus and sharpen the forms.
Are we comfortable around animals in the wild? Are they comfortable around us?
Most art critics and viewers see this imagery through a post - modern haze of
anthropomorphism and their own latent fear of either kitsch or physical injury.
I find that contrast hugely amusing.
The examination of animal life through images is its own strange practice –
Seemingly hopeless, reckless and deeply rewarding all at once.
A beautiful part of life, framing glimpses and visions of the wild, from intense and vivid memory.
One moose and she’s still a mystery to me after all these hours of drawing.
PART of THE SHOW
The Artist’s Life / The Artist’s Magazine
New Brunswick artist turns viewers into “viewees” with his exhibit Walking.
Geordie Millar’s large-scale drawings of a female moose chronicle the animal’s imaginary response to gallery viewers. Designed to exactly fit the space at the Saint John Art Centre in New Brunswick, Canada, the 5x6-foot works show the moose in a reclining position, standing up walking away and finally, sitting and gazing cautiously at the viewer. Millar’s inspiration came from a painting trip to the frigid Acadian coast where he silently watched as a young moose circled around him. Millar created the drawings from sketches and memory, and with the help of small moveable maquettes which he used to study the animal’s form. Of the drawings, he says, “Memories aren’t virtuosic but cinematic, incomplete and deeply indefinably evocative. These are flickering and slowed down like film – cave drawings walking away.” The effect, memorable and mesmerizing.
An anatomy and life drawing instructor, Millar has exhibited across Canada, the United States and Europe with work represented internationally in public and private collections.
Lisa Wurster, August 2006
Walking: Drawings of Geordie Millar
An exhibition of drawing is a notable event in itself. An exhibition of sixteen large-scaled drawings devoted to a singular subject matter is truly unique. That the subject matter should be Alces-alces our eastern woodland moose, this eater of twigs, elevates the notion of uniqueness to a realm of discovery and wonderment.
We all know them: Bullwinkle; mantle hung hunting trophies; the token wetland image of Canadian wildlife calendars. Our highways are posted with silhouetted warnings. Like the beaver. the moose is an icon of our Canadian visual culture. Solitary nocturnal giants lumbering deep within our forests, they are our Sasquatch. Confronted within the beams of our headlights we are mesmerized in disbelief by the prehistoric form before us. These are metaphors that I would bring to Geordie Millar's Walking drawings. In matters of art, wonderment is always a great place to start. These are wonderful images.
The sequential animation invites the viewer to wonder and to contemplate the anatomical structures, proportions, contours and textures. The authenticity of the images is self-evident and convincing. The physical presence of the animal is remarkably felt. The scope of the visual discovery within these drawings is far beyond the familiar wildlife symbolism so commonly seen.
First and foremost, they are drawings. The mystery of drawing itself; the conceptual relationships of mark making supersedes the context of the subject matter.
The textural mark, the smudge, the contour and the wipe are interwoven into unquestionable definitions of figure. Spilling out, the same marks offer a revelation of the ground. These transitions are fluid, yet collectively, they project the importance of what trey actually are, charcoal on paper over what they simply pretend to be. The presence of the artist's hand is as inescapable as the moose presented.
The artist has not finessed or obscured the drawing process. The viewer is able to 'play back' the entire construction and sequence of decision-making - the gesture, the push of the cross-contour form, the erasure, the descriptive emphasis.
These drawings are not recordings as much as they are projections in time and form. We actively share the artist's personal sense of discovery in constructing the image. The resulting drawings are not static statements of subject matter. Continuity is felt, of the moose in its progress as well as with artist resolving issues of perception, tension, medium and paper.
Ed Huner, Pictou, NS, 2006
Artist and educator Ed Huner was born in the Netherlands and has spent thirty years in the Maritimes developing his unique perceptions. He is a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and has had numerous exhibitions in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, with work represented in the Art Gallery of NS, the NS Art Bank and private collections in NS, PQ and Ontario.
Walking forward: Geordie Millar’s moose drawings
Unlike the world of music, where diversity, freedom and virtuosity are sacred pre-requisite.
Much of the academic culture around visual art sees this as anathema to a post-modern doctrine. Equating incompetence with sincerity, novelty and vapid deconstruction with creativity and representation with insignificance.
Some associate the ability to draw or a hint of virtuosity with the inability to create art.
Millars work will not satisfy them on any account.
His work shows an uncanny ability to see deeply, clearly and directly.
A classical hand coupled with the raw imagination to create something wildly fresh.
Not just renderings but a vigorous expression of vibrant life made with the simplest of media,
virtually unchanged since the Paleolithic.
That really satisfies me! -
John Schoenherr, Stockton NJ, 2006
John Schoenherr was one of Americas’ finest illustrators and a painter with few peers.
His work for Frank Herbert’s Dune books, and his children’s classics such as The Bear,
Rebel and luminous artworks for the award winning Owl Moon are world renowned and much beloved by generations of fans.
He studied at the Art Students League and Pratt Institute with such luminaries as
Will Barnet, Fritz Eichenberg and Stanley Meltzoff.