Tricia Middleton

Oakville

Tricia Middleton: Form Is the Destroyer of Force, Without Severity There Can 
Be No Mercy (installation view), 2012: Photos: Toni Hafkenscheid. Images courtesy of the artist and Oakville Galleries.Tricia Middleton: Form Is the Destroyer of Force, Without Severity There Can 
Be No Mercy (installation view), 2012: Photos: Toni Hafkenscheid. Images courtesy of the artist and Oakville Galleries.

By Anastasia Hare

Tricia Middleton
Oakville Galleries
To November 4, 2012


In Tricia Middleton’s current exhibition, Form Is the Destroyer of Force, Without Severity There Can Be No Mercy, foil-covered tiles and the pleasant aroma of wax draw us into a scene of wonder, albeit one tinted with a hint of fright. Every area seems to be covered and transformed into what the gallery describes as “the uncanny aftermath of a natural disaster – an otherworldly ruin as glistening as it is decrepit.” Counter to an anticipated state of disarray, we are immersed in an alluring landscape built-up of abundance, densely piled miscellaneous manufactured objects including cans, insoles, and glass and plate ware. The peaks are additionally concretized in pastel wax, creating the impression of dripping plastic ooze. Each droplet and layer animates the form it envelops, and calls to mind notions of duration and malleability. In this space of possibility, we can delve in as far as we dare, encircle and peer inside to view its many charms.

Tricia Middleton: Form is the Destroyer of Force, Without Severity There Can Be No Mercy (installation view), 2012Tricia Middleton: Form is the Destroyer of Force, Without Severity There Can Be No Mercy (installation view), 2012The rooms vary in subject and composition – reminiscent of marshes, mountains, glaciers, caves – all filled with intoxicating candy-coloured rubble. The central room contains purple and blue stalagmite-like forms, and as we walk into the rooms on either side, our experience is further textured with ribbon, yarn and live vegetation; canopies of draped fabric; and cotton-candy-like fluff that fills the cracks between the bricks of the crumbling walls. The pastel hues resonate with the flowers, sky and lake outside, visible through the gallery's large windows, and further entrance us into a surreal exploration of the site.

This aspect of Middleton’s work can also be seen to highlight a feature of her practice – expanding, repurposing and integrating what is already so central to the making process – the inspiration that stems from the artist’s surroundings. The gallery explains her method as one that “astutely zeroes in on the degradation and transformation inherent to material culture” and works with what she terms “runoff”– discarded objects collected from public spaces, dust and debris created during her working process and remnants of past artworks”. The amassed materializations resulting from such unassuming studio matter prompt a consideration of the manipulation of our own environment; and, in relation to the exhibition's assertive title, the installation compellingly conveys the feeling of being overwhelmed and engulfed, as if to declare that our hand, like the force of nature, is awe-inspiring beyond our scope.