2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Canadian fashion designer takes over Glenbow with animalia exhibitation

By Danielle Kim, October 27 2015 —

As the Glenbow Museum’s latest artist-in-residence, Canadian designer Paul Hardy draws on society’s intricate relationship with animals to create Kaleidoscopic Animalia. Hardy’s curatorial guidance brings everything from steeple-chasing mannequins dressed in elaborate gowns to portraits of Hardy’s pet dog to the exhibition.

The Saskatchewan-born designer burst onto the high fashion scene in 2002 with a critically-acclaimed collection at Toronto Fashion Week. Since then, Hardy has dressed high-profile clients, like U2’s The Edge and Sarah McLachlan, while also branching into interior design. His broad design experience is evident in the exhibit.

"Beyond the Looking Glass," by Paul Hardy. // Courtesy Glenbow Museum

“Beyond the Looking Glass,” by Paul Hardy. // Courtesy Glenbow Museum

“We tried to incorporate different facets of design — whether it was interiors, fashion, art or pop culture — so that people could see how it permeated the different aspects of culture,” Hardy says.
Kaleidoscopic Animalia focuses on humanity’s relationship with wildlife in both a historical and contemporary context. Hardy says an exploration of this effect was at the core of his artistic vision.

“I felt like it was a subject that really transcended social hierarchy and was a common thread in every culture, whether you wear skins as a tribal leader or have fur-trimmed robes as royalty,” he says.

The exhibition differs from those usually shown at the Glenbow. As an artist-in-residence, Hardy was allowed to sift through the museum’s collections and find items to incorporate into the exhibit. Hardy blends original pieces and artifacts from the museum’s vaults in the installations, resulting in new perspectives on old objects.

“The museum had articulated to me that they were really excited about this exhibition because they started looking at the collection in a much different way,” Hardy explains. “For the first time they’ve been able to draw from almost every genre of the artifacts and incorporate them into a single exhibition.”

The Glenbow Museum has the largest collection of historical artifacts in western Canada, so Hardy says there was no shortage of elements to choose from when designing the installations. He also pays homage to several First Nations tribes from his native Saskatchewan, without sacrificing the wide array of cultures and time periods on display.

Some sections of Kaleidoscopic Animalia touch on conservation and animal rights issues, but Hardy says the exhibit doesn’t seek to persuade or preach to viewers.

“The meaning is a bit elusive. We celebrate the impact that animals have had on our relationship in design, from seeing them in advertisement, in prints or in clothing,” he says. “There really is no specific focus to the collection. It is incredibly diverse.”

Kaleidoscopic Animalia is at the Glenbow Museum until May 22. Admission is $11 for students.

For more information about Kaleidoscopic Animalia, visit glenbow.org/exhibitions/paul-hardy.

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet