During a 2014-15 residency in Montreal, I held a painting and sculpture exhibition inspired by the Expo 67 world’s fair, a landmark moment in the cities history. One of the most successful world exhibitions, it was a period of prosperity, discovery and infinite possibilities fondly remembered by Montréalers. Expo’s marvellous display of 60s futuristic utopian architecture and engineering not only put the city on the map, it proudly displayed to the world Montréal’s rapid modernisation. However, the majority of Expo’s ambitious structures were only designed to be ephemeral. Parallel to the air of declining optimism felt by Montréalers during the following decades, time slowly degraded their skin-deep facades and most were eventually dismantled. Only a handful remain which serve as a reminder of this fascinating period in the city’s history.
I have explored North America’s dramatic seasonal variation, a foreign concept for an Australian. I’ve tried to depict the concept of a ‘fantasy ruin’, where Expo’s structures harmoniously coexist with stylised North American and exotic plants and animals. It is a comforting vision in a world where man has somewhat decimated his natural world, and is only recently realising its importance for a healthy, sustainable existence.
A few of the artworks suggest the concept of a portal and teleportation, referring to a window back to the glorious time when Expo 67 existed.