"Bag Suite in 4/4 Time (detail)"
Ian Johnston, "Bag Suite in 4/4 Time (detail)," ceramics and shelving, 2009.
Bag Suite in 4/4 Time, December 18, 2010 to February 6, 2011, Kelowna Art Gallery
BY: Janet Nicol
Ian Johnston, an architect-turned-sculptor based in Nelson, B.C., examines our relationship with the environment in this provocative installation focusing on the ubiquitous plastic bag. Johnston conceived of the idea of pouring liquid plaster into a plastic bag to create a vessel while he was in residency at the Pottery Workshop Experimental Factory in China three years ago. Multiple ceramic replicas were subsequently made by Factory potters, flavoring his art with another consumer reality — the ‘Made in China’ label. Each of the 432 slip cast porcelain vessels is neatly stacked along three rows of metal retail store shelving, save a single gold vessel resting on a pillow of red plastic bags. The installation is lit by fluorescent tube lights, and cordoned off with a hemp cord. Bag Suite is part of the artist’s larger project, Refuse Culture. “Cast in porcelain, the objects mimic the archaeological evidence left to us from preceding generations,” Johnston says, “and ask the viewer to question how the future might interpret our culture through these collections of fragments.”