The beasts came marching one by one | Toronto Star

There’s a silent bestiary behind the walls of Janet MacPherson’s west-end studio, a menagerie soon to be unleashed. You might have seen MacPherson’s work before, at the Gardiner Museum’s brilliant Animal Stories, where a tiny procession...

The beasts came marching one by one  | Toronto Star

There’s a silent bestiary behind the walls of Janet MacPherson’s west-end studio, a menagerie soon to be unleashed. You might have seen MacPherson’s work before, at the Gardiner Museum’s brilliant Animal Stories, where a tiny procession of her beleaguered beasts, bound in bandages, some with two heads, marched towards an unknown — and likely bleak — future.

MacPherson returns to the Gardiner next week with A Canadian Bestiary, a full-blown display of her creature-focused world view. Working in ceramics, MacPherson’s work has the ability to be uncannily realistic and precise, while twisting things just enough to suggest the disconnects between man and nature that have come to define our current earth-ravaging moment.

For A Canadian Bestiary, which the Gardiner has commissioned as a Canada 150 project, MacPherson reaches deep into the past, to the beginnings of our exploitive impulses: A shrine to St. Jean de Brebeuf, a colonial-era missionary charged with the “salvation” of indigenous people near her hometown of Midland, Ont., exposes its roots, represented by gilded sacramental hearts.

Another procession, this time massive and epic, suggests migration — from Paleolithic first peoples to European settlers to the millions now fleeing disaster in such places as Syria to arrive here, one of few welcoming havens remaining — as a way of life in a world whose unsettledness seems to go against nature itself.

Janet MacPherson: A Canadian Bestiary opens Feb. 16 at the Gardiner Museum.

Janet MacPherson: A Canadian Bestiary opens Feb. 16 at the Gardiner Museum.

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