Carol Taylor has spent much
of her artistic life considering what it means to be a woman. The
most recent works...the Ageratos series showing concurrently
at gallery Connexion - are a distillation of essential female attributes
embodies in the form of primitive goddesses. Along the way Taylor
has looked at woman from many vantage points - within nature, within
the home, and in her relationship to men - but increasingly in her
own terms. Her exploration of artistic medium and handling took
As the name
implies, Towards Ageratos is a related exhibition.
It gives the viewer the opportunity to explore Taylor's process
of evolution resulting in the mature statement - both artistic and
philosophic - achieved in Ageratos. As curator I have tried
to make its stages, its chronology, accessible. At the same time
I felt it necessary to avoid interpretation as much as possible.
The questions Carol Taylor raises are there for every viewer to
(in Greek "ageratos") describes Taylor's recent series
of female fertility figures, it could equally well to her numerous
studies of gnarled and massive tree trunks done in the mid-70's.
Their ability to survive the vicissitudes of time would seem the
common link. They also suggest the tree of life. The bond with nature
figures appear surrealistically inscribed within unavoidably phallic
mushroom shapes and set within landscapes of woods and streams.
The sexuality of their theme is clearly rooted in nature. Within
the enigmatic Beginning the only object not of nature is
a four-sided object clearly of man's making. The delicate line drawing
My Friends And I, the artist's own face is faintly visible
among her house plants. Such works seem meditations upon woman's
identity within her sexual and biological role.
continued in sets of drawings, rather than painting. While drawing
was a ready vehicle for exploration- she had been throughly schooled
in it by both Ted Campbell and Fred Ross - she struggled to make
it into something more expressive.
Three ink drawings
from 1981 ( part of a series shown at l'Université de Moncton)
are traditional in approach though not in theme. Dependent upon
contour line and in some cases hatched sharing, they include more
nudes within enclosing shapes. Nudes in domestic settings, significantly
by windows. Nudes holding masks. They state some very basic female
a breakthrough in technique. Briefly Taylor set aside her question
to focus on the medium itself. Her drawings of that time are studies
of the bod - parts of it rather the whole things. In UNB's own collection
is a study of a thigh done in bold firm strokes of charcoal. Even
more significant in terms of her later work were the studies done
in a broad scrubbily fashion avoiding contour line although. As
she wrote later, she had been
Clinging to line
When I found it not quite enough
When it failed to convey
The new energy and confidence
I still thought it was the correct
way to draw..
also from the UNB Collection, shows how effective Taylor's new approach
was, especially when combined with colour. The gestural energy of
it's movement gave a new, more highly charged, nature to her drawings.
Pastel, whether oil pastel or chalk pastel, now became her medium
Taylor returned to her philosophic preoccupations. In the next several
years she did many female figure studies in pastel. Left behind
was any sense of the particular woman. Of significance was the 1985
series which Taylor destroyed, then reassembled to find they had
achieved a kind of mystic power. She gave them the names of primitive
the ancient goddesses symbolized the whole concept of female fertility
and creativity in it's broadest sense. They liberated/sparked in
the artist a great burst of creative energy that produced first
the large installation of sculpture , drawings and assemblage called
The Nurturing Circle (shown at Windrush Gallery in 1987 and
Galerie Sans Nom in 1990) and then Ageratos.
It is revealing
that Taylor called one of her "torn drawings" Aruru (the
Potter) after the Babylonian earth goddess who helped to create
the human race from clay, as her own first works in this series
were monumental fertility figures in fired clay. A smaller version
is included in this show.
among the drawings is seen in Venus Resting which has a faint
echo of Miller Britain's exultant maternal figures, also done in
pastel. As Taylor neared her goal, her powers broadened. The figures
became more and more elemental and their expression took innovative
forms. The geometric motifs of Fertility Image #2 and #5
use female symbols within their quilt patterns that Taylor associates
with her own mother and grandmother. They also incorporate actual
stitchery. The enclosing shapes of this late series recall those
of her earliest paintings, though their gender may ( and may not)
power present in all these varied forms id especially evident in
the small boxed assemblages containing fetish objects.
of The Nurturing Circle - and even more of Ageratos -
show Taylor questioning the archetypal nature of woman. It is a
substantially different focus from the much more personal musings
of 1981 and different again from those of the mid0-70's. They offer
a remarkable insight into the evolution of a woman's consciousness.
arts writer and independant curator active in New Brunswick over
the past fifteen years.
page | Collection