• Zoophytes –David Acheson
  • Zoophytes –David Acheson
  • Zoophytes –David Acheson
  • Zoophytes –David Acheson


David Acheson

28 May
25 June 1994

Curated by: Janis Bowley


David Acheson

Curated by: Janis Bowley

essay by Noel Harding


May 28 to June 25 1994
Opening: 3pm Saturday May 28
Artist talk: 2pm Saturday June 4


Press Release:


The Or Gallery is please to introduce the work of David Acheson, in the form of this exhibition entitled Zoophyte, for the first time to Vancouver audiences. Acheson is a Canadian artist who divides his time between Southern Ontario and Europe. Some of the work in this exhibition was previously shown at Het Apollohaus, Eindhoven, Holland.


Zoophyte consists of series of contemporary sculptural works reflecting Acheson’s comments on the state of things; especially our flawed and damaged relationship to nature. Deidre Logue has written of the work in Zoophyte “Radioactivity has touched the horn of plenty. The work feels like opening the refrigerator, looking in that bin in the bottom and finding ‘all is now one'”.


At the end of this century, we in ‘developed world’ find ourselves enmeshed by the products of our making; our food is manufactured, we drink our filtered sewage water, out tampering resides in our bodies. With experience of this knowledge, Acheson creates a built environment with a difference; Zoophyte presents to us poetic visions, humour and bitter-sweet reminders as we hover on the knife-edge of our indecision.


There will be a publication to accompany this exhibition with a short essay by Noel Harding.



David, let’s talk about your work … I sit back straighten myself in the chair… my coldness arises … I cannot allow my bias.


One could seize on the function of poetic intuition, visual poetic signatures as a way to transcend the personal, to objectify and translate the body of experience. Your eyes seem so different to mine.


I listen to what you said, all the particles made little sense though I first recognized the understandings of your work, in your own writings: ”/ had a leak in my gas tank. I kept fixing it, it kept leaking …one drop a minute that kept following me around. I could smell gasoline at unexpected times and places. I don’t really like the smell, but some people do.”


Delicious 4 legged body (reminds me of seeing the hind quarter of an Elk at the zoo … made me lick my lips … mmm delicious; defining the balance between bestial sex and eating) Is that why the breakfast menu includes a final coffee with ‘HAVE A NICE DAY”? I really hate that sunny smile expropriated from the supermarket of the banal. Though how true is of all of us … the words I use in my endearments … sweetie … dear … plastic fruit maybe … Nah … the work is an ad for a raffle at Loblaws expounding the bounteous seductions available in a package tour to the Bahamas … I knew you would exploit the sexual. The work really evolves around a social consciousness … shopping …


And on another wall remembering ‘Big Angels’. Three human figures, a happy family unit, each a figure composition of differing back lit images, as if within the unconscious (milk shot out of a syringe, a brick as a hand) the images perceptibly float and hover in space. The unlit black wall creates illusionary space as a grounding in the abyss. The black and white images pin reflections. The photo of the centre line of the highway, not only forms the leg of a hypothetical figure but also generates subjective thoughts in the viewer … you remember and enter the vague daze of the highway… photo of a tire track water deep in the mud … prickly bits of thistles as the heart in a torso … an emblem of things carried in the soul.


I do talk with David by telephone and my writing needs questions. I’ve brought myself to memories of my past, my associations to the ambiguities of the self recreating, each individual image a bond with my meaning in it. I get a dose of intensities, I hear some things from the inside out and I will use some of your words: “male and female figures manifest ambiguity … inferring new creatures forming and informing… half way between the real and the image. Milk shot out of a syringe … see the tip… fax of sperm.


The mousetrap and the dead mouse foreshadowed within the figure, an empty bird’s nest as the head of the figure as in the emptiness of death, the echo of the flight of the mind. The transformation of the nest as a home of birth into an echo of past life … worms giving legs, eroticism, food for non present birds and toys for the childish mind. This little figure being tossed between two seeming adults the elements comb the insight like an impish boy’s fascination with death, fat toads and snail slime. The bright and bulbous eyes of the mouse crushed out, popping and mesmerizing that last vulgar moment.


You fax me a message … explaining the ideas in this new work … under construction … I get a news clipping:


In Seremban, Malaysia: a man who became angry with a snake that bit him swallowed the reptile alive. Authorities say Krishnan Muniandy swallowed the 30cm snake “to teach it a lesson” Muniandy said, ”caught it but it bit me and I got so angry that I swallowed it. ” He rushed to a nearby hospital after he developed stomach trouble. Doctors there x-rayed his stomach and confirmed that the snake was dead Muniandy said however ”I can still feel something moving in my stomach. ”


This is no chance encounter or quip. The story embodies the memory and it’s action in perception. The work is clothed in the tools of memory, tools that pry open viewers experience. Maybe the mind acts like memory of the amputated limb imposing life into it. I cannot advance my reactions to what I haven’e experienced and the view through my past is tainted and bloats a tint and frame. The matter of the everyday, a light comedy of the passions.

Noel Harding, 1994


Vancouver Sun June 18,1994, by Robin Laurence

Artist Bio