Beacon, 2012. Photography by Gesilayefa Azorbo
Alison Norlen - Saskatoon, Canada
125 - Brookfield Place (BCE), Allen Lambert Galleria
181 Bay Street
(South of Wellington Street West)
[ selected photographs ] [ video ]
Beacon is a fantastic and carnivalesque skeletal sculpture based on historic lighthouses of the 1800s.
Inspired by the -floating structures that once perched along coastlines and inner waterways, artist
Alison Norlen draws on the imagination of architectural follies and the ornamentation of Victorian pleasure
sites and theme parks such as Luna Park and Brighton Pier, as well as personal memories and references.
Extending the expansive skeletal drawings and miniature wire forms that have been part of Norlen‘s
artistic practice for the last decade, the welded architecture transforms the ghost-like surfaces of
familiar and forgotten structures she has been exploring – 20th century sites of fantasy and cultural
artifice – into large built form.
Situated within the sprawling steel and glass arcade of Brookfield Place, Beacon is a tribute to the
once futuristic dream worlds of pleasure palaces and world's fairs as well as to the memory of the nearby
shoreline long lost beneath the city‘s surfaces. Stripped of purpose and relevance like so many
of its tarnished predecessors, the architecture retains iconic significance, an expressive monument to
past grandeur, wonder, and invention, capturing the vaporous zone between past and future.
Artist Biography: Alison Norlen resides in Saskatoon where she is Professor of Art and Art History at
the University of Saskatchewan. With an MFA from Yale University, she has exhibited nationally and internationally.
Norlen‘s work is multisensory and personal, emerging from encounters with sites of spectacle. From
these, she renders new landscapes – environments evocative of the complex interplay between experience,
fantasy, desire, nostalgia, and memory. Her work is held in private and public collections throughout
the United States and Canada.