Art Gallery of Ontario
Toronto On Canada
Oct 2007

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online artist's project


Textile Museum of Canada


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Once upon a time … so begins every good story. “A Terrible Beauty” is a series of episodic exhibitions which unfold the story of an eccentric traveler and collector. In total there have been three venues or chapters which explore ideas of pattern, collecting and display. Digital Threads will present the fourth and final chapter entitled “Till Death Do Us Part”, of the story which cannot take form within a gallery space. It is the story of the death of the collector and what happens to a prized collection


Musée d’art de Joliette
Joliette Quebec Canada
Sept. 23 2007 - Jan. 6 2008

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When I was a child my brother and I were each given a stamp album. My father divided his own stamps from his collection between my cousins and us. Thus began a life long love of collecting. I moved from stamps to other things, textiles, cricket cages, tintypes, to name just a few.



Some collections are extremely valuable. They are indicators of wealth, class and prestige. Yet others while not valuable in monetary terms are irreplaceable to their owners. The pleasure of collecting is in sharing with others. This sharing includes the retelling of adventures made in the pursuit of a particular object. Often this story telling enables one to relive happy moments of one's youth.



There is always a thrill of acquiring something new for there is no such thing as having a compete collection. The thrill of collecting can be addictive. This can be problematic for some collections require great quantities of space or considerable care and maintenance. Any museum professional will attest to those facts! For the aging individual collector it is sometimes impossible to continue the upkeep on a beloved collection. It begins to get dusty, unorganized, mites attach specimens and light causes irreparable damage. Still collecting is an ongoing process that only ends with the death of a collector or perhaps a change in interests.



A Terrible Beauty, Chapter III: To Have and to Hold is the final chapter of the story of an obsessive Victorian collector. The collection has reached its peak and begun to deteriorate. It is excessive in every way - from the sheer number of insects to the faded grandeur of the columns and furnishings. The collection displays the eccentricities of its owner for it has been arranged in a manner that has nothing to do with scientific genus but instead forms patterns that suggest prestige and grandeur.



Upon entering the reception hall one is greeted with majestic columns which lead the way towards an arched doorway and a magnificent room of red and gold. The reception hall reflects the collector's interest in the classics and drama of Greek mythology for it is divided into four areas which correspond to the Greek gods of wind known as "Anemoi". Each god was ascribed a direction and was also associated with a season. Boreas was the north wind and bringer of cold winter air, Notus was the south wind and bringer of the storms of late summer and autumn, Zephyrus was the west wind and bringer of light spring and early summer breezes and finally mysterious Eurus was the east wind. The winds suggest not only changing seasons and the life cycle appropriate to an insect collection but also wind was a necessity to sea travel. It indicates the great distances traveled to acquire the specimens of the collection.


  Crossing the threshold of the arched doorway into the formal presentation room the viewer is bedazzled by the red and gold wallpaper and astounded at walls that seem quite literally to be encrusted with insects. The insects' bodies and wings are used to surround circular framed works with convex glass. The scenes in the frames are fanciful for they show insects in anthropomorphized situations - that is they are doing human activities. Under the domed glass of the frames there are also several insects. The curve of the glass  

Forest Art Wisconsin Native/Invasive
Raven Trail in the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest
Wisconsin USA
June 16 2007 - Sept. 30 2007
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Often when people learn that I work with insects they suggest that I come over to their house and harvest the hundreds, if not thousands of Asian lady beetles that are infesting their window sills. While annoying - they sometimes bite or leak an oily fluid which stains - the damage they do pales in comparison to the Japanese beetle. Adults and larvae feed on over 300 types of plants and trees causing defoliation and devastating the landscape. "Big Blue Bugs Bleed Blue Black Blood" refers to this invasion of exotic species which have no place in Wisconsin.



Wisconsin Triennial
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
Madison Wisconsin
May 5 2007 – July 15 2007

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An Installation by Jennifer Angus and Alistair MacDonald
Chazen Museum of Art,
Madison WI
April 7 2007 - June 24 2007

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It is well known that the mayfly rises from the water at dawn and at dusk it dies. Its brief time on earth is spent flying, mating, never eating and then as the sun sets it is no more. "Whether such a short life is heaven or hell is a matter of conjecture." Wander the gallery space and journey through a day



Anyone who has spent time in an outdoor space listening to their surroundings will be aware of the many layers of sound that gradually become apparent. Once the ears have attuned to the environment - be it a garden or an area of dense jungle - they begin to segregate, follow and even fantasize about the sound world at their ear tips. The soundscape you hear is an attempt to recreate that state or memory and is made up of a number of separate layers:



The ground layer comprises recordings from dawn to dusk in the rainforest of Sarawak, East Malaysia, 'pleated' in time to make a repeating cycle lasting just over 2 hours, the sound slowly changes as each bird and insect takes its turn in the daily cycle and moves slowly through the room. Superimposed on this are a number of strands extracted from original recordings which focus on single sounds (birds, insects...), and these layers like the colourful insects upon the wall, spin in interlocking circles around the space



Additional strands come not from the forest, but share references with the visual elements of the exhibition. In particular they reference the nineteenth century's fascination with exploration and collection, the flourishing of entomology and the resulting children's stories and rhymes. The English naturalist & evolutionist Alfred Russel Wallace explored the rain-forests of South East Asia extensively in the mid-nineteenth century - we hear extracts of his account, The Malay Archipelago; there are the nonsense poems of Edward Lear and others including William Roscoe's poem The Butterfly's Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast; then a little train of fantasy leads us, in musical boxes, from the tune for a setting of The Butterfly's Ball, to the old Morris dance tune, An English Country Garden* and Brahms Lullaby.



Other layers of sound are transformations: Wallace's grandfather clock, the sound of children calling out the names of insects like tongue-twisters and the musical boxes all dissolve into the clicking and hissing of the insect chorus and join them in circling around the gallery.



Like the forest itself, the soundscape is ever changing and will never sound exactly the same from day to day.


*How many insects come here and go
In an English country garden?
We'll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you'll surely pardon
Fireflies, moths and bees
Spiders climbing in the trees
Butterflies drift in the gentle breeze
There are snakes, ants that sting
And other creeping things
In an English country garden

*Jim Loy, 2000


  Jennifer Angus would like to thank the invaluable help of her assistant Kara Ginther, and project assistant BA Harrington. She would also like to acknowledge the support of the very long suffering K'gnausa (Sasa) Yodkerepauprai and most of all Robert Apholz who provided inspiration, motivation and for whom this exhibition is dedicated.  

The Gregg Museum of Art & Design
North Carolina State University
March 15 2007 - May 13 2007

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Jennifer Angus and John Hitchcock
Aaron Bohrod Gallery
University of Wisconsin - Fox Valley
Feb 9 2007 - March 16 2007

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