In August 2018, Michael Gibson visited the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan studios of Dorothy Knowles. At the farm studio, he discovered a series of rare floral still life paintings juxtaposed with landscapes painted by Knowles in the winters of 1983 and 1984. These previously undiscovered paintings have become the focus of our inaugural exhibition with Knowles.
Known for expansive landscape paintings of the Canadian prairie, Knowles has always explored different subject matter and styles. Painting flowers, still lifes and gardens are not uncommon in her practice. However, for only those two winters, Knowles combined the contrasting elements of the landscape with beautifully arranged cut flowers in vases. Why?
These unexpected and joyful paintings show Knowles’ willingness to push her own boundaries, even while working within an accepted landscape tradition.
Dorothy Knowles introduces the paintings: “It was winter. I couldn’t get out to paint – or go to Emma Lake, where I would work in the summer – so I bought flowers to paint still lifes and brought them into the studio. The studio was full of landscape paintings, which created an unexpected backdrop. It intrigued me – it was kind of bizarre. It was the artifice of the bouquet against nature that appealed to me, and maybe a way of bringing summer into the cold prairie months”.