August 14 - October 1, 2017
Opening Reception - August 23, 7-9pm

Anne Billy
Kirsty Templeton Davidge

We all have that comfortable sweater or other garment that makes us feel a certain way – perhaps tied to memories, an association with well-being, or physical coziness. As visual markers that help express our identity, clothes also help us to feel comfortable with ourselves. Our most primitive understanding of clothing is as a form of protection from the elements and the outside world.

The work in Comfort features clothing, and imagery of clothing. Artists Kirsty Templeton Davidge and Anne Billy have portrayed clothing to signify someone without directly or entirely depicting them. In this way, they use suggestion, symbolism, and personal narrative to frame the personal intimacy they feel, or attempt to feel, with their subjects.

Anne Billy’s series, entitled Dénommé Jean-Marc (Known as Jean-Marc), began with old shirts that once belonged to her father. Billy’s father experienced a loss of autonomy while struggling with Alzheimer’s; the shirts are vehicles for her reflection on the evolution of the father-daughter relationship and the role reversal brought about by his illness. They are adorned with fragments of narratives and embroidered silhouettes inspired by members of her family. This personal history—along with other found objects— embellishes her father’s clothes. The shirts take on corporeal gestures that longingly portray a closeness between the artist and her father that has transformed over time.


In Kirsty Templeton Davidge’s paintings, she meticulously renders the patterns and folds of clothing. The labour-intensive process is a metaphorical control over what is uncontrollable in relationships, and a type of offering or penance, that serves as a meditative practice for the artist. She crops her figures toreference what she describes as “the maddeningly ‘unknowable’ private and mysterious inner life of those closest to us”. Templeton Davidge’s paintings require her intense scrutiny, a process that is both cathartic and satisfying as it reveals truths he may have previously overlooked.

Templeton Davidge's works are provided courtesy of Peter Robertson Gallery.

What we wear alters how the physical body is perceived, shaping or hiding aspects of it out of personal preference or socially-mandated discretion. The ritual task of dressing is a way of asserting control over one’s own body. It is a preparation of the self before the action of relating to other people, which both Templeton Davidge and Billy acknowledge can challenge our expectations. Control over one’s own truth can impact how we navigate our surroundings - something in which we can take great comfort. With this association in mind, the technical choices seen in Comfort - painting, stitching, cropping, embellishing - become activities that provide solace to counteract life’s uncertainty.

Kirsty Templeton Davidge acknowledges:

Edmonton Arts Council
City of Edmonton
Alberta Foundation for the Arts
Peter Robertson Gallery