Liljana Mead Martin (b. 1986 Halifax; lives/works Vancouver) is an artist and environmental researcher working with material and media to create artworks and public projects which explore the elemental language of environmental change. She gathers materials and data from examples of land degradation to highlight speculative hybrid adaptations between human existence and the natural world.
In solo exhibitions Geophilia (WAAP ‘21) and Deep Thirst BioOrchestra (The Drake ‘22), her works respond to instances of land development, heat waves, forest fire and floods in the Pacific Northwest. In the exhibition Negative [Space] Interface, her work explores housing development in Wildlife Urban Interface zones - areas that are increasingly susceptible to forest fires - due to overdevelopment, climate change and the absence of forest stewardship based on colonial-centred provincial and national laws. Thermal mapping and it’s associated high chroma colour palette, has been a recent reference point for artworks which engage the body. Casts of ears, hands, arms and legs explore a sensorial perspective on attentiveness, perception and survival.
Martin received her MFA from Emily Carr University (‘16) and completed a BFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (‘10). Her work has been exhibited at The Klondike Institute for Arts and Culture (Dawson City Yukon Territory), Artscape Gibraltar Point (Toronto Island ON), CSA Space (Vancouver), Nanaimo Art Gallery (Vancouver Island), Wil Aballe Art Projects (Vancouver), Zalucky Contemporary (Toronto), NADA House Governor’s Island (NYC). Martin is the Editor and founder of BIOMASS (worldwide) an online contemporary art periodical.
Photo by Steven Cottingham.
LILJANA MEAD MARTIN email: liljanameadmartin [@] gmail [.] com IG: liljana_mead
Sink Or Shiver is a series of five sculptures presented as part of a three person exhibition at Zalucky Contemporary in 2022. The series is composed of fire charred pine, a wide range of electric pigments mixed by the artist, and resin. The forms cast from the artists body, are comprised of hands cupping bent knees and carved holes in the charred wood surfaces. The hollow shells in multi-coloured resins, become egg-like emergences bubbling out of the charred wood. At each end of the charred pine strands, carved tips mimic skate or shark eggs, also called ‘mermaids purse’.
“ The artists assembled here perform various forms of alchemy to explore the inner life of things. Their work exalts the inherent mutability of matter, the constant state of becoming that might not always be perceptible to the naked eye. Employing the corrosive power of salt, the destructive energy of fire and the transformative effects of vapour, they attempt to bear witness to the ‘changefulness’ of inanimate objects and how, in that state of flux, new forms of knowing can emerge.”
Laura Hudspith, Liljana Mead Martin & Lee Henderson Vessels, Orbs and Pyrophytic Pods June 4, 2022 - July 2, 2022. Documentation by Laura Findlay.
Mod Thermal (Detail) , 2022, charred wood, resin, pigments, 60 x 5.5 x 4 inches
Sink Or Shiver. 2022. charred wood, resin, pigments.
(Left) Mod Thermal, 2022, charred wood, resin, pigments, 60 x 5.5 x 4 inches (Right) Ancient Risk, 2022, charred wood, resin, pigments, 60 x 5.5 x 4 inches
Pyrophytic Pod, 2022, charred wood, resin, pigments, 19.75 x 5.5 x 3.5 inches
Sea Weed. 2022. 26”H x 5.5” x 3.25”D. Charred wood, resin, pigments.
Sea Weed (detail),2022. 26”H x 5.5” x 3.25”D. Charred wood, resin, pigments.
In Deep Thirst BioOrchestra, Liljana Mead Martin imagines a new botanical species, the first returners of a fire-scorched landscape. This niche ecosystem takes on hybrid characteristics of humans and plants, as ears and other appendages amalgamate with mycelium and carnivorous pitcher plant forms. They sprout and drip out of charred branches in fluorescent colours, mimicking the electric hues of thermal gradient maps, highlighting connections between temperature and inhabitability.
Within this atmosphere, the BioOrchestra produces colour as though it were sound, suggesting excretions to attract life. As a result of their emergence from drought, their sensory based digestive systems are dehydrated and in a constant state of thirst. Conductor Cues a Blaze signals an attempt to connect with destroyed aspects of our environment. Cast in several mineral layers, a pair of hands frozen in gesture rests inside the concave hollow of a fire scorched log. This terrain of the BioOrchestra is a space where life comes forth despite the deathblows of storms, fires and droughts, but it is life altered. It’s existence relies on the ways in which it is non-human, the conductor’s gesture is low and still. Instead of making music, the BioOrchestra listens for it.