The words dirt bike, silk scarves, and floral designs aren’t often used together in a sentence. However, it’d be impossible to describe The Dayroom’s exhibition Hungry Valley without doing so. Sarah Burwash’s small and detail packed watercolours cause the viewer to question exactly why dirt bikes and feminine motifs are considered an unusual combination.
Hanging on the gallery walls are small watercolour works sitting in clean, white frames. Most of the frames contain a decorative and painstakingly painted setting of floral design. The focal point of each watercolour is, remarkably, a convincingly painted dirt bike in motion, such as spewing up sand or flying mid-jump. The bikers wear pink boots, ride a pink bike, or have braids flying out of their helmets while floating in their frames of pastel flowers.
Two larger watercolours in the room, Small comfort and Bad weather, stand apart from these biker babe depictions, appearing at first glance to be still lives of a silk handkerchief and a table filled with floral table clothes and vases. However, also on the table are a dirt bike helmet, bungee cords, and pocketknife, while the silk handkerchief is scuffed with tire tracks.
The final feature of the show, and perhaps the most mesmerizing, are three white, silk scarfs that flutter from copper pipes jutting out of the gallery wall next to a set of black handlebars mounted over the gallery door. The scarves are printed with three of Burwash’s watercolours, and these enlarged, rippling depictions of the tightly painted florals and pocket-sized bikers that exist on paper bring home the contrasts that exist both within the subject matter and between the content and the surfaces they are displayed on.
The written accompaniment to the show, by Nicole Westman, states,
“Sometimes, it’s not about being included in a dialogue, it’s about making your own conversation. Perhaps this explains why Burwash chooses to paint motorbikes and also accessorize with soft silk, an obvious reference to feminity. After all, it’s time we get off the back and make this all our own.”
Hungry Valley will be on display until December 4, 2016. The Dayroom is located on the third floor of 177 Water St., and is open Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 pm.