A Written Critique on the Painting "Mother Nature Meets Industrial Revolution"
Mother Nature Meets Industrial Revolution 
Size: 28 1/4" x 34 1/2"
Medium: Mixed Media & Resin on Canvas
Series: Ready-Made

Art Critique 2012
Written by: Mr. Andrew Seale
As I explored the small Endeavor gallery in Calgary’s beltline I stumbled upon a few abstract pieces which fascinated my mind and told a deep story. The piece I selected to critique is called Mother Nature Meets Industrial Revolution, by Nikki Gour. It is composed of many readymade objects which are reshaped and covered in a heavy duty resin mixed with paint. Nikki has taken a canvas and covered it in what appears to be autumn leaves which have been shaped out of mesh and painted various yellow and orange tones. The leaves are not completely pasted onto the canvas, they stick out from the painting giving the effect of a pile of leaves like you would find in fall. The fine mesh is visible giving each leaf a manufactured look to it, yet each one is outlined with a thick colored layer of resin which gives each leaf a natural look. The resin continues into the centre of each leaf outlining the major veins you find in a live leaf. The most striking part of this piece is the large metal object careening across the centre of the painting. It appears to be smothering the leaves, pressing them into the canvas. This object has perfect circles cut out of it showing its manufactured look.

Looking at the information card adjacent to the painting I noticed the name and looked back into the painting noticing nature how nature is portrayed as smothered with technology and cold steel. The leaves are also yellow, gold and red which are the colors of fall. Leaves in fall change from summer’s lush green to yellow and copper tones. This symbolizes their death as the tree prepares to go dormant before the bleak cold winter sets in. I interpreted the piece as a symbol of what we are doing to our planet. Since the Industrial Revolution we have been building empires of steel and concrete as we destroy more and more of our natural world. The colors of the leaves I believe symbolize the decline of our natural world as we uproot it in order to increase our wealth and consumerism. The steel object symbolizes the cold non living objects which are smothering our natural world. One last thing I found interesting about this piece is the fact that the leaves themselves are clearly made from man made objects. she made no effort to hide the mesh they are made of which also shows how the world we know has become manufactured.

I had the chance to speak with Niiki in person once I completed my interpretation of the piece. The image she was trying to portray was that of consumerism and how our world of manufacturing has been pushing out the natural world, almost destroying it. Ever since the Industrial Revolution factories of steel and concrete have displaced the natural world and cities have become major centres which pollute and aid in destroying more of our natural world. The metal piece which is actually screwed onto the canvas symbolyzes our cold manufactured world which is pressing our planet to its limits, and is slowly killing it in the process. The leaves which are also manufactured (Made from wire mesh) and not natural but manufactured. Nikki wanted to show that everything we have today in our modern world is manufactured, almost nothing is unique or one of a kind.

The artist has used ready made mediums to create a piece which is supposed to portray the destructive power the industrial revolution had on our world. As I examined Mother Nature Meets Industrial Revolution this is exactly what was running through my mind. Nikki Gour was absolutely successful with the portrayal of her message through this image. We also talked about other responses to the piece and she noted that many were confused with what she was trying to portray in the painting, not fully understanding the fact that our civilization and way of life today is taking its toll our on this planet. I attributed my immediate understanding with the background I have in Geography. Having taken many courses over the past few years on the environment and climate change I have an intimate understanding with the issue and am actively working and informing to try and counter the effects we are witnessing today. To sum up the critique, I believe an educated audience will understand this piece and her portrayal of the issue is clear. To those who do not have an education, or are unfamiliar with the major issues at hand the image may have little meaning.

Artist: Nikki Gour by phone and website nikkigour.ca
Gallery: Endeavor Art Gallery

Calgarians Pledge 7,000+ Volunteer Hours at 6th Annual Timeraiser

Jill Belland, co-host of the 6th Annual Timeraiser, with Travis Porter.

Jill Belland, co-host of the 6th Annual Timeraiser, with Travis Porter.

A brilliant blend of selflessness and selfishness, the volunteer Timeraiser hit Flames Central on June 16, raising 7,115 hours of volunteer time for local charities and non-profit organizations.

Calgarians promised their time and talent to the maximum of 150 hours per year to local non-profits, including the Art Gallery of Calgary, The Cerebral Palsy Association and the YWCA, among dozens of others for a chance at one of 25 locally made pieces of art on display.


Megan Weir and Sveta Shustova attending the Cerebral Palsy Association booth at the Timeraiser.

Roger Kingcade from X92.9FM and Jill Belland from CityTV hosted the sold-out party, which transformed Flames Central into a bustling market of booths from non-profits competing for volunteers. Pledgers went from booth to booth trying to find a fit for their skills and interests, while attendants peddled the merits of their organizations to the crowd.


Philanthropic partygoers John Landry and Miles Kramer with local artist Nicole Gour.

The Timeraiser presents meaningful volunteer opportunities to skilled young professionals in their twenties and thirties, and in so doing, it benefits volunteers, community organizations and artists alike. Volunteers acquire a career-oriented opportunity that pads the resumé, organizations get a few hours of pro bono skilled labour and artists get fair market value for their work. Can’t find a losing party in that group.

Best of all, after you put your hours in, you get a shiny new piece of artwork to decorate your living room. I’d say that’s time well spent.

Learn more about this innovative program at timeraiser.ca.


Festival of Trees raises funds despite smaller crowd at gala

By Kristjanna Grimmelt

Nov 2010

 Jennifer Thietke, organizer, said the festival raised $11,400, the most it's raised in the four years she's organized the event, through the live auction of trees on Saturday. The Festival sold fewer tickets to Friday's gala than last year, however - something Thietke thought might be due to a slower economy.

Major sellers included a traditional tree by Gagnon Farms called "All I want for Christmas," purchased for $1,450 by Dave Adams at Peace River Ford, and "Farmers Feed the World," a tree made mainly of kitchen utensils by artist Nikki Gour and sold to Brian Reading for $600.

Thietke praised Julie Gour, decorator; Brenda Brochu, volunteer coordinator; and Brooke Corey, a dedicated volunteer who worked tirelessly on the event.

Winners are as follows: Best Christmas Tradition-Themed Tree, "Spice up Your Christmas" by J-Wire Electric; Best Stiched Item, "Let it Snow" by the Peace River Sew 'n' Sews; Best Festive Lawn Decoration, "Cozy and Comfy" by Modern Paint; Best Home Decor Item, "Mitten Advent Calendar" by the Peace River Sew 'n' Sews; Most Original Tree, "Farmers Feed the World" donated by Lavoie Ventures and created by Nikki Goor; and Most Beautiful Tree, "Angels Among Us" by Nomad Electrical Contractors Ltd. The People's Choice Award was announced after press time and will appear in next week's Record-Gazette. Please see page C1 for more on the festival.

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