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Jill Thomson


A prairie childhood in the Midwest, a young adulthood in Montreal and a settled life as artist and mother in Edmonton, informs an inner landscape of small town, ancestral farm, and vibrant city. My neighbourhood and urban garden paintings celebrate a creative life in cities, drawing the small farm, with an abundance of healthful food, fruit trees, plant life and the tranquil quiet of natural spaces into city quarters. In these paintings, gardens are knitted into urban terrains in many living circumstances; front and back yards, balconies and rooftops, abandoned city lots and community gardens.

Saving heritage seeds, investing in community supported agriculture and replacing grass with native plants, these city gardeners seek a connection to farmers for food security and to learn about farming practices in their region. They are driven by a memory for the flavour of food and are making soil rich with organic matter from their own table and yard resources.

Over many years, I have been slowly unearthing and establishing a visual language for this personal view of observed and remembered space. These compositions are travelled; meandering on multiple plains, with the familiar vernacular of neighbourhood houses, city architecture and public space, brought to the surface and opened-up, to inside quarters, with kitchens, living rooms and furniture. The borders between kitchens and gardens, markets and farms are loosely defined with an intention towards the steady cyclical flow from food source, to table, to garden soil.

Engaged in the contemplative action of painting, I am aware of a sensation of entering and inhabiting the painting. Working as an artist and mother in community, my art is deeply connected to my life. The paintings live in the houses of the neighbourhoods they represent. They celebrate neighbourhoods designed for “within walking distance” escapes into nature with resourceful, inventive, New York Highline design, creatively offering breathing space to congested boroughs. A generous, front porch, small-town-in-the-city perspective, that breaks the grid of urban life with organic growth and flora.

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2 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T5J 2C1