Mhairi Treharne


Words by David Finn
Professor and Chair
Department of Art
Wake Forest University

''The artist Mhairi Treharne makes a world with art that is both personal and cosmic, as well as exquisitely crafted and highly expressive.

Treharne’s art is poised between painting and sculpture: We encounter a structure made with inflected, worn materials like slate or wood, punctured, or drilled, and knitted with peripheries of wire, shaped to remind us of the ultimate status of art as a physical object --- and then we are pulled in, to the deep center of the work by evocative, fleeting, painted images, often a remembered landscape or a fragment of life. I like the way this artist simultaneously honors both vision and touch. Treharne’s work moves in and out of abstraction too, but it is her personal connection to the land, people, and animals she knows that gives her work a feeling of intimacy, value, and of love for the subject. These subjects are given space and intensity by their central position, and from the ‘working’ of the periphery which serves to frame and ‘protect’ them.

The great paradox of scale is that small things often evoke an immense, almost cosmic sense of space and time. Mhairi Treharne’s art seems like it could have been made long ago, and yet it reflects the deepest bonds we make with the world that sustain us in this age of rapid change.''

 

Artist Statement


I am inspired by the desolate and pure spaces of my rural Canadian childhood, and moved by the world of myth and legend embedded in the landscapes surrounding my new home in Gloucestershire and heritage in Pembrokeshire and Dunbartonshire.

Each panel is uniquely sized and milled, decoratively burned, and embroidered with wire before the paintings are embarked upon.

I craft glittering one-off surfaces to carry messages about lost and found sacred places. An established shorthand of material choices and motifs imbue meaning about the subject matter.

I am moved by miniature religious votive paintings of the past; robust yet delicate in appearance, undeniably loved -  the small and sacred.

Each piece is robustly crafted to hang directly on the wall as-is, a hanging wire is integrated into the embroidery. The surface and the frame are one and the same.


Biography


Born in Toronto to a Scottish Mother and Welsh Father in 1989.

I was raised in the rural town of Minden Ontario, surrounded by the iconic landscapes of the Haliburton Highlands, the region which inspired the iconic Canadian painters The Group of Seven.

When 16, I traveled alone to Japan for a year, and was fortunate to live with several Japanese families while attending Japanese highschool. I am still moved by memories of the ancient and sacred cultural spaces and relics that I was privileged to witness.

I lived briefly in the United States before moving to the United Kingdom. In 2018 I completed a year of reflective critique and development at Newlyn School of Art’s One Year Mentorship Program which has led to showing throughout the United Kingdom.

I work out of my home studio in Gloucestershire, and also from my woodshop in Pembrokeshire.



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