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Tiziana La Melia, installation view, The Pigeon Looks for Death in the Space Between the Needle and the Haystack

installation views

Glamour Grammar by Julian Hou

Tiziana La Melia

4 February - 17 March 2018

Unit 17 is pleased to present The Pigeon Looks for Death in the Space Between the Needle and the Haystack, the first solo exhibition by Tiziana La Melia at the gallery. These new and recent works come out of the exhibition Garden Gossip at the Walter Phillips Gallery (Banff, Canada; 29 September - 22 December 2017).


While visiting Quezon City in May of 2017 I met my friend’s Auntie Lulu. When I asked her about the narrow coffin shaped pond in her garden, she said: that’s where we all came from. Surrounding the pond were plastic basins where some baby turtles lived. Inside the pond lived turtles around eighteen years old. The basins, or bowls, as others refer to them as, reminded me of the ones my grandmother used, that my Auntie Fina later inherited: for soaking clothes to remove stains. They handled these basins mindful of their dutiful potential for containing and nesting the things they took care of. 


Self Defence is the collective title of a group of painted works that use the basin as a frame and that make up the main portion of the exhibition. It was initially produced for the Walter Phillips Gallery. The works are not written, but dictated and improvised and painted on plaster using an impure 13th Century mezzo fresco paint application. The title Self Defence refers to the interspecies communication taking place both underground and with the wind, via the pollen and seeds of plants, the exchanges that happen in the garden amongst flowers, bees, worms, “releasing chemical language trails through leaves and roots”*. 


 “The gold nuggets fell out of the cavities and landed in the dirt. The dirt was continuous like one long sheet. Sometimes it found forms of difference or separation in the long stomachs of worms. Anything contains an outside inside of it. A doughnut is a simple shape with a hole. They had entered the interior of the office building moving through the dim corridor towards the red light.”— Ada Smailbegović 


*Press Release for Garden Gossip, 2017

Texts by Ada Smailbegović and Julian Hou accompany the exhibition (the latter is available through a link above). 


Tiziana La Melia (b.1982) grew up in the Okanagan region of British Columbia and now lives in Vancouver. Her paintings, textiles, installations, collaborations and writing are concerned with overlapping registers of perception, feeling, memory and narrative. She has recently exhibited at Galerie Anne Baurrault, Paris (2017); Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff (2017); Damien & the Love Guru, Brussels (2017); Cooper Cole, Toronto (2017/15); Oakville Galleries (2016); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2016); Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles (2015); Mercer Union, Toronto (2014), among others. She holds a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver and an MFA from the University of Guelph. La Melia won the 2014 RBC Canadian Painting Competition. 


La Melia would like to thank the Walter Phillips Gallery and the Banff Centre as well as Allison Collins and Patrick Cruz for their support of this project.

The artist gratefully acknowledges the BC Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts for their support of this initiative.

The Pigeon Looks for Death in the Space Between the Needle and the Haystack

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