Botanical art exhibition 'Through the Looking Glass' featured at Carnegie Gallery 

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'Through the Looking Glass' is a unique art exhibition featuring colourfull botanical prints

Running until June 30th, there is a special art exhibition at the Dundas Carnegie Gallery called 'Through the Looking Glass' by artist Zorica Silverthorne. 

This is Silverthorne’s first ever solo exhibition. In an interview with Silverthorne, she explained that the Dundas Carnegie Gallery has an open call for artists to submit their exhibition, and this year hers was chosen. “To know that it's your work that's carrying an exhibition and that a gallery has instilled, you know, this responsibility in you to have a good show - It's a big thing, but I was doing work that I really enjoyed” said Silverthorne.  

Silverthorne’s exhibition features art of botanical prints. A botanical print is of art that is made when a flower is pressed between two tiles. Silverthorne explained that you need a substrate to do the art upon, such as fabric, but that she uses watercolour paper. “The watercolour paper needs to have a mordant, so it's almost like if you're developing photos, you need to have something that will fix the image onto the paper. So, I pretreat the watercolour paper with aluminum sulphate,” said Silverthorne, referring to the aluminum sulphate as the mordant.

She also said that you can find these products at most bulk barns and grocery stores, so it is easily accessible for anyone to try at home.

The next step in the process is to lay out the flowers and arrange them however you want them. And then the most important part – pressing them. Silverthorne lays another sheet on top to “sandwich” the flowers, and then presses them with tiles. Finally, it gets processed in water. "The heat extracts the pigment, and the water moves it around,” said Silverthorne. She also explained that depending on the shape of the flowers, whether they are smooth or bumpy, the water can seep into different areas and create very diverse works of art.  

It takes an hour for the botanical prints to process in the water. Silverthorne elaborated on the excitement and freedom of the process. “I have to be patient and leave it and go do something else, and then come back. That's the exciting part, I pull it out carefully and open it and see what magic has happened . . . I have no control,” said Silverthorne.

“I have to be patient and leave it and go do something else, and then come back. That's the exciting part, I pull it out carefully and open it and see what magic has happened . . . I have no control.”

Zorica Silverthorne, artist

You are able to create botanical prints anytime of the year, but Silverthorne shared that she much prefers doing prints during the spring and summer. This is because she likes to scavenge for all the flowers she uses for her pieces herself, as opposed to buying all of the flowers for her art.

As well as loving art, Silverthorne is also passionate about nature and plants and works part-time at the garden store Eising Greenhouses & Garden Centre doing floral design. “I was given permission to take flowers from the stock that we have there. And that's been really fantastic. I can play around with things that I wouldn't normally be able to grow,” Silverthorne explained. 

The exhibition took Silverthorne about a year to complete. “From 2023 summer up until 2024 is when I completed the entire exhibition. Because once I knew I was accepted to have a show, and I knew when it was happening, I thought I better get on it, because it's going to be winter, and I won't have access to these plants,” said Silverthorne. 

Silverthorne has loved art her entire life, but made the decision to become an artist in high school. "That's kind of when you realize, ‘Oh, you can be an artist, there are schools that you can go to and you can be an artist,'' said Silverthorne. After high school she went to Sheridan College to become an artist and ended up in the illustration program.

Silverthorne then explained how she came up with the name for her exhibition, and how the theme came to be.

“The nature of a botanical print is that it is a mirror, like it's a mate print, but it's not exactly the same. . . so there's like this disruption in it being duplicated." When she considered how this could be captured in a title, she remembered her love of Alice in Wonderland and from this she thought of the title: Through the Looking Glass. "That's kind of like a little whimsy into it . . . and I think the works are very whimsical. So I think that's kind of where the theme came to . . . the work itself lends itself very well to that. It's kind of dreamy, and surreal," said Silverthorne.

As well as being an artist and working at a garden store, Silverthorne also teaches art to children. She shared that she loves to learn new things from other people and that is partially the reason why she loves to teach young people.

She also shared how inspiring it is that children are being exposed to art so young. “I also think, Oh, I wish I had that class when I was, you know, eight . . . I think it's so exciting and important that we still do that, you know, that parents find that as being something that's important for their children,” said Silverthorne regarding the importance of children being immersed in the arts. 

Silverthorne continued speaking about how important art is for everybody, regardless of age. “That's an important thing for anyone, even adults too. They think, ‘Oh, I'm not an artist.’ It's like, no, we're all artists in our own right . . . you need to do something creative,” said Silverthorne 

Silverthorne also explained how when you’re doing something, you shouldn’t feel like you’re being forced to, and that your work should make you happy. “The art brought me a lot of joy creating it. I think that it’s important that if you're creating work that it should bring you joy,” said Silverthorne. 

Silverthorne's advice for aspiring artists also relates to doing what brings you joy. "Just keep learning, just keep exploring, just keep going where your interest takes you."

When describing her art, Silverthorne said that it is playful and has a sense of intensity. When asked about what she wants people to feel when they see her exhibition, Silverthorne said that she hopes people simply feel happy looking at it. “I feel like the prints give you a sense of joy, like there's this lightness to them. And I want them to feel positive, like the sense of positivity when they look at it,” said Silverthorne.  

With a whimsical feel similar to that of Alice in Wonderland and visually appealing colours made from flowers, Through the Looking Glass by Zorica Silverthorne is not an exhibit you want to miss. Make sure to check it out before June 30!


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