Camille Myles in the studio with I Stand Alone series_charcoal on paper_2022.jpeg
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Reference photo for I stand alone series_mirror in hand_Camille Myles_2022.jpeg
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Installation

“I Stand Alone” 

Contemporary drawing installation and performance

 

Inspired by the bravery and authenticity of the iconic Canadian landscape painter Emily Carr, this series of drawings was created as part of an art residency in Victoria British Columbia (BC) in 2022. Following in the footsteps of this feminist painter and influenced by her later work like Odds and Ends (1939), I share her concern for the environment in constantly changing landscapes. Irreversible natural resource extraction and its impact on Indigenous ways of life continue to be important political and societal issues in Canada to this day.

 

These drawings were created using charcoal collected from wood burnt by fire at a logging site of an old growth forest in the unceded territories of the Pacheedaht First Nation, near Port Renfrew, BC. The act of drawing solely with this found material in an expressive and raw way brings new life and meaning to the subject by creating a conversation about vulnerability and hope. One tree, locally known as Big Lonely Doug (a Douglas Fur), was spared from logging in 2012 and left to stand alone, a powerful statement of the disappearing old-growth forests. This series honours that symbol of defiance by associating it with a burnt tree stump with roots exposed, which gives us the illusion of new life stemming from loss.

 

In my work, I let myself be guided by my intuition by starting with found objects, plants or materials to inform the direction in which I tell my story. I play with reflections, mirrored images and positive/negative space to question how the viewer sees a subject, thus their own perspective is reshaped. With this symbol of the lonely tree you are confronted to your own mortality, fragility and are reminded that the landscape that surrounds us is in constant flux, fragile just as we are.

Fleeting moments, fleeting perceptions
 

“In that moment, I saw you, then myself” Camille Myles, Acrylic on canvas, 20”X30”, 2020.

“In this moment, everything changed.” Camille Myles, Acrylic on canvas, 20”X30”, 2020.

In these two paintings, I capture simple moments of play in water which explore themes of fleeting memories and question perception. Created from reference photos taken only moments apart, I reflect on how one moment, followed by another can be completely changed based on our perspective and our environment. Every second is different, unpredictable and beautiful.

 

Fluidity and fast drying qualities of acrylic paint allows me to expressively build depth and layers quickly, mimicking the flow and movement of water. Dropping highly diluted paint onto the canvas and leaving it dry unpredictably brings the notion of play into the piece. Chance, intuition and instinct are part of this playful process which alludes to childhood moments of freedom and creativity. In many ways, I explore the themes through representational imagery of my children to help me reimagine my own childhood. Through these explorations, I have found myself questioning my role as a parent, what it is to be a good mother. Mesmerized by the simple act of play in the water, I see hope in a time when doubt easily creeps in as a mother. 

 

In my work, I enjoy challenging the viewer’s perspective, to bring in refraction, reflections and shadows that are mere distortions of reality. How we portray ourselves to others is often very different from our own authentic self. In a highly mediacized world, it’s difficult to discern reality and fiction, resulting in unattainable ideals. Since becoming a mother in 2014, I’ve found myself thinking back on my own upbringing and values, putting unnecessary pressure on myself due to the influence of these fake societal ideals. Water is a symbol of complexity, of this duality that exists all around us - a constant tension and always in movement.

Drawing & mixed media
 

Moving from the outdoors to the studio, I'm constantly looking for inspiration in contradictions in the world around me. I collect nests, garbage, found objects to re-purpose them into something meaningful to my practice. I use various techniques to convey fluidity, fleeting moments and expression. Brush strokes are quick and purposeful, ready to simply cary an idea, a fleeting thought. 

Lanscape painting - Oil & Acrylic
 

Bringing playful moments of self-reflection, these paintings have become a mediative practice, exploring imagery with mirrors, found objects to speak to our impact on the environment.

Train series - Exploring movement and the passage of time
 

After art school, I constantly painted, explored themes and imagery that were very linked to my life stage - discovering my place and looking at movement in my art. I often used encaustic and oils to paint trains or landscapes seen through the window of a train. I often went back and forth from city to city, with no clear notion of home and this inspired what I painted. It is often said that the railrod system built modern Canada, shaping our connections and creating accessibility for goods and trade. In our modern world, goods are highly commoditized and trains are packed with merchandise coming from the far reaches of the world. These paintings reflect on how our consumption impacts our landscape.

Motel series - Moments of nostalgia
 

During these train trips, I also became very interested in motels and abandoned landscapes, so prevalent in areas of distress, where nature clearly takes over again and our cultural artefacts disappear into the wild.