Dress with Insect Box Gathie Falk, Dress with Insect Box, 1998.

Gathie Falk


Chosen by: Bruce Grenville, Senior Curator


“I remember seeing this sculpture in Gathie Falk’s studio in the late 1990s. I had just moved to Vancouver to work at the Gallery and one of my first projects was to organize a retrospective exhibition of Gathie’s art. Seeing this sculpture today, I am pleased at how perfectly it fits into my memory of her oeuvre. It is beautiful, familiar and surprising – three common characteristics of her art. But I also remember that when I first saw it, I didn’t feel quite so comfortable. At the time, this was one of the first sculptural works that Gathie had produced in more than 20 years. Her early ceramic sculptures from the 1970s – fruit piles, shoes, picnics and household objects – were legendary and rightfully so, but long ago she had stopped making those things and focused on painting. Now sculpture was back, but she was using an unusual medium -papier-mâché - and her subject wasn’t everyday objects, but rather a body, metaphorically rendered in the form of a strange little dress. In retrospect I realize my problem wasn’t with the work, but was a predictable reaction to the thing that makes Gathie’s art so compelling. All of her best work is unsettling and unexpected. This is achieved in the subtle play between the real and the imaginary – here produced by the intricate, painterly surface of the papier-mâché, the slightly smaller than life-size dress, its animated pose, and, of course, the odd little box of moths carefully balanced on the hem of the dress.”


Gathie Falk, Dress with Insect Box, 1998. papier-mâché, acrylic paint, varnish. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Vancouver Art Gallery Acquisition Fund. Photo: Teresa Healy, Vancouver Art Gallery.

Dress with Insect Box is on display at the Gallery in UNREAL, on view until September 5th.

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