819-822-9600, ext. 2260 gallery@ubishops.ca


May 27th, 2021

My first encounter with Tania Love’s work was in a group exhibition titled Living Well, presented at the Craft Ontario Gallery (and shop) in 2017. I remember being struck by this row of long panels of thick, crisped, and painted paper and wanting to trace the deep Prussian blue wavy shapes with my fingertips. And so, while conceptualizing this show, I recalled this intimate moment I had with Love’s work, its inviting and calming effect, triggering the desire to dive in the bluest ocean. 

While exchanging with the artist, I found out more about her process for the series waves (2017), wherein the Kozo paper is first brushed upon with a mixture of iron compounds, then intuitively folded and exposed to sunlight. Attentive and knowledgeable viewers can denote from the subtle gradient in the cyanotype, the environmental conditions and time of exposure. Much like the bodies of water that surround us, Love’s waves are in synergy with the sun. The body of work waves (2017) is not her sole artistic investigation inspired by water; for years water steadily found its way in her work. Fuelled by an acute awareness of her geolocation, she observed that although the waterfront is not easily accessible for leisure in Tkoronto/Toronto, its water lines are an integral part of the inhabitants’ collective psyche. The waterfronts inform how one navigates neighbourhoods and spatially orients themself. [1]

The works selected for Les yeux dans l’eau tie to different examinations of our relationship to water as a bodily experience and an element that influences residential systems, while hinting at its role in the discourse of modernization. Water is portrayed as more than a cultural and physical space; it is a socio-economic material. Under the address of progress, water becomes a tool, a property to manage underrights regulations.

In her solo exhibition Pathways (2019) at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum (a historical landmark situated in Almonte, Ontario — unceded Omàmiwinini territory), Love points to recurring industrial settlement and resource extraction patterns in North American cities. During the first industrial revolution, hydropower generated a greater rural migration towards cities, while exacerbating the displacement of Indigenous populations due to new manufacturing opportunities. Like Almonte, the watersheds of the Eastern Townships provided the necessary power to supply industrial-scale enterprises. My research on the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum led to an interesting discovery that directly links Almonte and Sherbrooke. George Stephen, 1st Baron Mount Stephen, who is mainly recognized for his role as the director of the Bank of Montreal and his presidency of the Canadian Pacific Railway, made a fortune in the textile industry in the late 1860s and early 1870s. Stephen invested in the Rosamond Woollen mill (where we can find the Textile Museum), and also financed the establishment of Sherbrooke’s historical landmark, the Paton Manufactory Company, and the creation of Adam Lomas & Son’s mill.[2] It was exciting to see the interconnectedness of social experiences, economic narratives, and environmental states caused by a specific use of water. Through Love’s bodies of work waves (2017), pathways (2019), and reflections (2019), one can read the tensions surrounding water’s commodification during the first industrial revolution and subsequent environmental concerns. Her practice invites the audience to consider our interrelationship with nature as a delicate balancing of the inner (corporeal experiences) and outer (human-made and natural environments) habitat of water.[3]

Love’s practice records movement in the deep of Kozo paper folds, renderings of the circulation of rainwater in Toronto streets’ cracks, and the portrayal of the shimmering dance of sunlight on ripples across a river. The embodied relationship that we commonly share with water is omnipresent in her thinking process, as she addresses the parallels between how water flows around us and within us. The water patterns found underground, on our streets or a city map resemble our arteries and veins, annexing the human body to a broader nexus of fluids.[4] 

As we are still navigating a global pandemic and an environmental crisis, water has taken another dimension in our lives. Words from a past exchange with Tania Love stayed with me. She stated: “I feel more deeply how much water is thoroughly embedded in our days … the moist droplets carrying the virus juxtaposed to the cleansing, [the] life-saving quality of washing our hands, the tears we cry and the water that revitalizes …” [5]

This citation was shared when we discussed our relational evolution with fluids since the start of confinement. And so, I ask you the question, what has been your relationship with water since COVID?



[1] Geneviève Wallen, in conversation with the artist, October 2020.

[2] Alexander Reford, “STEPHEN, GEORGE, 1st Baron MOUNT STEPHEN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 15, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed May 31, 2021, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/stephen_george_15E.html.

[3] Tania Love, email message to author, May 31st, 2021

[4] Ibid.

[5] Tania Love, email message to author, November 5th, 2020