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Kathryn Hollinrake's Dreamy Mourning

Antique prints and photographs have always been compelling to me. In highschool I became particularly interested in the morbid 19th century custom of creating Mourning Portraits of recently deceased loved ones. Back then even portraits of living subjects were unsettling due to the stillness required for the image to be clear but these photos of the dead were deeply disturbing.

This is something I think Kathryn Hollinrake has managed to mimic in a Frankenweenie sort of way in her new collection of work called Final Flight on now at the Pikto Gallery in the Distillery District.

Hollinrake has created old-looking, ghostly images of dead birds and insects that are very quiet, and very still. One image of a bird laying on its side at the bottom of a cage is particularly compelling. The wires of the cage are faint and out of focus in the foreground and the background quickly drops off into a fuzzy, multi-coloured field.

The bird looks like it's sleeping, but it's not a parrot and anyone who's found a dead sparrow a the base of the TD centre knows that it won't wake up.

Each of the photos has been manipulated to have a painterly, dream-like feeling which I feel is quite successful. These creatures once flew through the air, care-free and fearless. In death Hollinrake has managed to maintain the envy we feel towards the winged species, preserving the souls of the animals just as the creators of those creepy Mourning Portraits had hoped to do.

Opening reception for Kathryn Hollinrake: Final Flight is Tonight 6 - 9pm The show runs until July 22 at Pikto Gallery in the Distillery District (55 Mill St. Building 59)


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