Queen Size

November 5 – December 17, 2022.
Opening reception: Saturday, November 5, 2022 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Cal Lane: Queen Size

Text by Chloë Lalonde

With a practice rooted in materials and found objects, Cal Lane (b. 1968 in Halifax, NS) toys with gender roles and social expectations.

Soft mattresses coated with layers of paint, protecting from found particles left from those who slept there before, where others now have their sleeping portraits captured.

Intimate, or intrusive? Hard and feminine, Cal’s sculptures divulge symbols of behaviour, etiquette, how we appear, how we represent ourselves and more so how we feel obligated to be how others expect.

What does society choose to value? Creating systems that control our thinking, whether we know it or not, Queen Size juxtaposes objects, their apparent uses, what material they are made out of, and their ornaments. Titled after the queen sized mattresses used to paint sleeping portraits, Cal has craved to paint on mattresses for many years, attracted to both the quilted patterns and vile qualities of a discarded mattress.

The pandemic provided an ideal circumstance to paint these portraits. Newly married, a new stepmom, a new dog—life became sweeter staying home. Painting portraits of the people she loved in deep slumber felt like the only way to show this new appreciation for the domestic.

This is the first time Cal has exhibited paintings and also one of the first times she has worked with colour. The mattress is the blank canvas in the same way the sheets of steel and iron and the shovel are. Placing discarded objects on a pedestal, allowing them to transform into something beautiful, brings a sense of irony and whimsy in the process of making something valuable again.

Set of hand-cut steel doily dumbbells, fine-China ancestral weights, upholstered shovels sanded and stained in mahogany, the steel neck is gold leafed and the spade is quilted and tufted in a classic upholstery material.

What beautiful tools, so useful and strong – but too beautiful to actually be used, they can only be exhibited. Parallel to a collection of artefacts in a Viennese Palace, Cal Lane presents relics of a society where the blunt, utilitarian, “masculine” qualities of objects are put under acute scrutiny.

The word “dumbbell” comes from a time when people used a similar apparatus to ring a church bell, but mute, hence “dumb.” Perhaps the feminine appearance of these dumbbells refers to the “silent” role women are expected to have, but their materiality is cold and hard, strong and resilient.

Consisting of dinner, salad, desert plates, and saucers, each set of “fine-China” dishes is of an elegant pink and gold. Their value, once again removed, as holes drilled through the centre of the plates.

So what is it that we value? Beauty? Strength? Silence?

Or is it the care found in keen craftsmanship? The love within a community, household, a chosen family? The love for everyday rituals, quiet moments and traces left behind?