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Tina Poplawski

“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.”  (Fishers)
, 2018-19

Acrylic, jute, Winterstone, botanical matter, glitter mounted on wood panel

40” x 40”

$5,000 CDN (Please inquire for shipping)

Tina Poplawski’s title comes from the poem entitled “The Stolen Child” by W. B. Yeats, and is part of a larger series entitled “Once there was a way to get back home”, from the Beatles song “Golden Slumbers”. Inspired by Celtic myth about fairies stealing a child and replacing it with a changeling, Yeats’ poem oscillates between mysticism and melancholy. The poem is a metaphor for the return to childhood innocence – a time when we might escape the sorrows of the world through fantasy and the power of the imaginary.

For many years now, Tina Poplawski has explored and been inspired by events in her family’s history, placed in the greater context of world events. In particular, she has referenced the aftermath of her parents’ abduction by the Russians during World War II. At that time they were living in Poland and one night, while supposedly sleeping safely in their beds, the house was stormed and her grandmother, mother and other immediate family members were arrested and sent to the gulags in Siberia. After their release, they were housed in refugee camps in five countries and disparagingly labelled “DP’s” or displaced persons. Within Poplawski’s work, it hasn’t been so much the actual events themselves but the after-effects and ramifications within her family that have inspired her art making – unspoken traumas that were nevertheless passed down through the generations.

Poplawski has equally explored our changing world due to humans causing changes in the environment that devastate non-human species. The flora and fauna are forced to adapt, and in so doing, the survival of entire species is challenged to the point of extinction. As areas of the planet become inhospitable to life and the battle for resources turns into wars, mass migration will bring new collisions of realities between humans, and this too can be read in Poplawski’s work.

Poplawski’s Mandala-like series, combines acrylic, jute, Winterstone, botanical matter, and glitter mounted on wooden panels. Made of jute, her crocheted doilies are actually inspired by the patterns that belonged to her grandmother. Some are pristine, others are deconstructed, while others are partially obliterated by paint and various botanical matter. At the heart of each work, are jewel-like representations of the animals living in Georgian Bay, where she resides. If the mandala is a representation of the unconscious self according to Jung, then these mandalas, with their ‘crude matter’ manage to coalesce into images of wholeness. Like the phoenix, out of ash and ‘crude matter,’ Poplawski makes a case for interconnection in a message that oscillates between despair and hope.

In a 2020 exhibition text, Curator, Virginia Eichhorn wrote: “Poplawski parallels that personal experience with what is happening to the natural environment due to increased urbanization and development. Her works combine natural flotsam and jetsam from the woods and beach around her home with other materials to create pieces that could be read as reliquaries as well as evocations of protection of the animals and natural world she evokes.” In other words, Poplawski’s work is an act of bearing witness. When one is powerless to effect change during disastrous events, keeping memories close to one’s heart and mind for posterity is both defiant and hopeful.

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