Our next Artist You Need To Know is Janieta Eyre. She is a British born photographer who currently resides in Toronto. “While Eyre’s work is highly constructed, unlike images of women and femininity that we so often encounter in everyday life, she rejects implicit gender roles and offers alternative myths that extend beyond a simple critique.” (from here, an accompanying text to an exhibition at the University of Toronto Art Centre)
Eyre studied philosophy at the University of Toronto (graduating in 1988), Ryerson Polytechnic University (with a focus on magazine journalism) and later photography at the Ontario College of Art and Design. She began working professionally as a photographer in 1995, but has commented that if she had remained in Britain, Eyre would have likely continued working in creative writing, but felt that in North America images offered a better space for narrative and storytelling.
“In her distinctive self-portraits, she frequently presents herself as a set of twins, engaging with the possibility of morphous identities and fictional doubles. Often employing fantastic and carnivalesque settings, she uses props and costumes to disrupt the fixity of image and identity. She manipulates the theatricality at play in her work by incorporating art-historical and literary references, while leaving space for the integration of fictional representations.” (from her site)
Eyre has exhibited her work widely including in Italy, Germany, Spain,Great Britain, Eastern Europe, South America, Iceland, the United States and Canada. Significant solo exhibitions include a retrospective at DA2, Ciudad de Cultura, Salamanca, Spain, another at The National Gallery of Art, in Reykjavik, Iceland (1999) and one a the Galleria Civica d’Arte Contemporanea di Siracusa, Siracusa, Italy (1997).
Other highlights from Janieta Eyre’s career include showing at the 1997 Absolute Los Angeles International Biennale and a solo and group exhibition which was part of the Kwanju Biennale in South Korea (1998). Scotiabank’s CONTACT Photography Festival has featured her artwork numerous times( Janieta Eyre: Constructing Mythologies was a featured exhibition at the 2013 iteration of this Festival). A recipient of the Duke and Duchess of York Award in Photography (1997) and the Chalmers Award (2014), Eyre also was awarded a residency at the Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Ireland, in 1999.
Janieta Eyre’s artworks can be found in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada; Musee D’Art Contemporain in Montreal; the Art Gallery of Ontario; DA2, Salamanca, Spain; the National Gallery of Iceland (Reykjavik); The Seymour Collection, Vancouver, British Columbia; Art Gallery of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario; Margulies Collection, Miami, Florida; Hart House, University of Toronto, and the Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa.
Curator James Campbell, in writing about some of Eyre’s most recent works, offers a considered response to not just that work, but Eyre’s larger aesthetic: “Eyre’s photographic work is, above all, a methodical amplification of her own interior life. Her works are no-holds-barred meditations on madness and melancholy by an artist in close touch with her own unconscious – and one with a demonstrably cinematic gift.” (More of that fine essay can be read here).
Janieta Eyre’s site can be enjoyed here.