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Peter McFarlane, "Ravenous," 2011, chainsaws, machete, typewriter keys and steel, 10” x 30” x 24”. Credit: Seth Berkowitz.
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"Iron Horse and Train"
Peter McFarlane, "Iron Horse and Train," 2012, railway track, welded scrap steel carved by a grinder, 4.5” x 32” x 11”. Credit: Janet Dwyer.
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"Raven Stealing the (Home) Lite"
Peter McFarlane, "Raven Stealing the (Home) Lite," 2011, chainsaws, steel, saw blade, knife and guitar strings, 30” x 24” x 10”. Credit: Seth Berkowitz.
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Peter McFarlane, "Mother," 2012, circuit boards, 7” x 40”.
Pegasus Gallery of Canadian Art — $1,000 to $10,000
Salt Spring Island, B.C.
By Maureen Latta
Sculptor Peter McFarlane has a remarkable ability to see inspiration in life’s leftovers. In Toronto, as a York University student in the early 1980s, McFarlane was influenced by the political art of Martha Rosler, Barbara Kruger and Hans Haacke, and by his travels in Asia and India, where villages are built on landfill sites and where he was arrested for photographing children scavenging for usable objects. Today, he volunteers at Salt Spring Island’s garbage transfer station, a prime hunting spot for materials.
“Old objects are laden in their own history, and you can manipulate the object to change that history,” says McFarlane. The arduous process of soldering, welding, stripping and painting gives objects new meanings that provoke reflections on our environmental impact. His recent work deals with the implications of being a landowner on an island where First Nations’ burial sites are still being discovered. Constructed from chainsaw parts, McFarlane’s Raven series echoes the aesthetic qualities and metaphors of indigenous masks while invoking associations with contemporary debates about the destruction of forests.
McFarlane likes discarded objects he can relate to personally: Lawnmower blades become a Sioux headdress; typewriter keys and guitar strings become bird feathers; computer circuit boards become landscape paintings.
McFarlane’s work is in the collections of the Banff Centre and the Shaw family. He is represented by Pegasus Gallery on Salt Spring Island, Madrona Gallery in Victoria, Canada House in Banff, and Mayberry Fine Art in Winnipeg and Toronto.