‘Johnston’s Falls’ was a new addition to Ouellet’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ – a series that digitally manipulated and recreated, bead-by-bead, three iconic nineteenth century Canadian landscape paintings. This new piece, however was based on a contemporary image of ‘Johnston’s Falls,’ a majestic waterfall set in the now tamed and touristy Canadian wilderness. Like Lake Louise, Niagara Falls and the Saguenay River, Johnston’s Canyon’s attraction helps support local economies and reinforce concepts of national identity.
The work also offered a more formal investigation of materials; the image of the falls was intricately recreated using more than 46,000 plastic beads. ‘Meant for an audience an ocean away,’ ‘Johnston’s Falls’ was designed to be displayed overseas to show off the beautiful Canadian landscape in a similar way to the paintings of Church, Bell-Smith and O’Brien.
Ouellet is an artist and arts educator based in Calgary who has worked across a variety of media, in various sites. She makes large, beaded sculptures depicting Canadian wilderness, appropriated from historical paintings as well as contemporary tourist images. Her work has been exhibited across Canada and the UK and represented in public and private collections including the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Canada Council Art Bank.