Margaret Harris was raised in Edmonton, Alberta. She received her university education in Biology, after which she spent some years participating in field research in the Kananaskis area, drawing upon a keen observation of wildlife. Her later experience in librarianship encouraged an ability to plan and execute projects.
Margaret works with acrylic paints and a variety of drawing media, including ink and charcoal. She is greatly influenced by colour and light found in her observed subject matter. Her most recent body of work focuses on urban landscapes, juxtaposing architectural elements and green spaces. Now a retiree, Margaret is pleased to be able to pursue her childhood love of art.
Views from Mt. Pleasant Cemetery
Views from Mt. Pleasant Cemetery: by Margaret Harris, June 2019
Living next to a cemetery is a constant reminder of our inescapable mortality. Nevertheless, the cycle of life continues, with new growth flourishing amidst the remains of the old. Among the monuments and memorials to our deceased loved ones, a cemetery is also a place where trees, shrubs, and wildlife make their home.
My latest series of works focuses on the cemetery as an urban landscape, or green space, suggesting a mini ecosystem. As humans we tend to emphasize our own control, considering nature as something to fight against. Rather, I would like to suggest a more irreverent tone, finding beauty in organic life cycles.
In keeping with this theme, my paintings juxtapose and contrast the natural and manmade, animate and inanimate, the hard, stark edges of stones versus the more complex, curvilinear forms of organic life, I also explore the atmospheric qualities of subjective color and a limited color palette, and the interplay of light and shadow.
These works evolved from a series of plein air sketches and photographs done at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Edmonton, during the summer of 2017. In the weeks I spent there sketching, I found myself particularly drawn to old, weathered gravestones with their long history, and the resident animal life with their everyday dramas.