Plantscapes of the Prairies: Geoff Phillips

July – August 2020

Phillips’ work challenges people to look closer at their environment, learn about it and see it in new ways.

This exhibit is part of OSAC’s Arts On the Move touring program

Phillips created Plantscapes of the Prairies to challenge people to look closer at their environment, to see it in new ways, to challenge himself to learn about the different species found in our South Western Saskatchewan landscape, and to illustrate a new world of plant life underfoot. Many people rarely envision the species we walk on as having any artistic merit, interest, or importance. There are myriads of colour, form, and interconnection there for the observant in the Grasslands National Park, Cypress Hills Centre Block, Cypress Hills West Block, and the Frenchman River Valley that inspired Phillips’ work. The parks seemed very important in keeping rare species of plants and preserving the natural grasslands and forest ecosystems. Without these parks there would not be any natural land to explore as an artist, but the real cost is on the ecosystems and animals they sustain.

Phillips’ process includes driving to locations in South Western Saskatchewan, mountain biking with rolled canvas in his knapsack, finding a section of land, unrolling the primed canvas on the ground, paint-sketching the scene/plants, and rolling it back up to stretch and paint in oils later in his studio. He takes many close-up photographs of the various elements and plants found within the scene. Some photos are chosen for reference and printing. These photos along with the paint sketch and the artists memory/experience of the land inform the painting process. Without that one-on-one with the land the painting has no life.