Pig Heaven – Diana Durrand and Jo-Ann Sheen

Diana Durrand Pigs 1 detail small

Where are the Pigs, Where are they? Diana Durrand Acrylic on Canvas detail

I was unable to attend the opening, so I marked the first day back from New Mexico on my calendar as a day to go to the Fort Gallery to see the Durrand and Sheen show. I was tempted by the happy pig faces by Durrand, grinning out at me from the invitational poster and the accompanying moody etching by Jo-Ann Sheen.  It took me longer to get there – I was not prepared for the various duties that awaited my return that ended up making me wait a day or two – but I got there on Friday afternoon after a hour-long wait at the Albion Ferry to Fort Langley. Thank goodness, the day was bright, warm and sunny.

Diana Durrand has worked on a theme of pigs triggered by her interest in the Hearts on Noses charity (based in Maple Ridge, B.C.) that rescues and rehabilitates  abandoned, unwanted,  orphaned, injured, abused or neglected mini-pigs.

Diana Durrand Pigs 1 small

Where are the Pigs, Where are they? Diana Durrand Acrylic on Canvas

From a distance, the nine happy pig faces looking out from the centre block of the largish square painting are the same ones I had seen on the invitation. They appeared to be surrounded by wallpaper of some sort, but on closer inspection, the wallpaper effect is made up of many, many pig bodies – the signature, side-on view – in Chagall-like detachment from any reference to the ground. They are upside down, down-side up, and many positions in between, floating on the canvas at all angles, really.  The brush strokes are direct; the layers of colour are subtle and rich.  Durrand is a painter’s painter. Yes, the imagery is quietly funny; the compositions are inventive; but for a painter, it’s the application of paint to canvas – the mark-making, the freshness that makes these paintings luscious, and dare I say, with this porky subject matter, tasty!

Pigs are considered one of the most intelligent of animal species – very close in brain matter to humans. Durrand mentions the contrast between the pigs she has met at the Hearts on Noses pig refuge, happy, able to roam, free within the confines of the property; and she compares them to factory-style pig farming where these intelligent animals never see the outdoors, cooped up in miniscule spaces while they fatten up for market.

Durrand Listening  small

The second large painting of note, Listening, illustrates three pigs with black background and stripes like zebra stripes contouring their shapes. The pigs seem to be enclosed behind bars, like in a cage or in a transport truck going to slaughter. The pigs listen intently to what is going on about them, ears perked and eyes alert.

Durrand Matisse Revisited small

Matisse Revisited, Diana Durrand, Acrylic on Canvas 12 x 16

The third large painting is another with a central rectangular canvas with a van Gogh-like picture of sunflowers.This is framed by a number of ochre canvas panels to complete a larger rectangle, then the total is framed by a simple  wooden frame. At first sight, it’s a copy of van Gogh’s work, but on careful consideration, the pig shape emerges, hidden amongst the pots and sunflowers. It’s a visual joke.

Durrand Klee Revisited small

Klee Revisited, Diana Durrand, Acrylic on Canvas 12 x 16

Which came first, the van Gogh or the Kandinsky, the Matisse, the Klee  or the Mondrian, is a moot point. Durrand uses the same pig form, a profile of the body shape, in each of several paintings where the apparent image from a distance, is a copy of one of these master’s paintings, but the pig emerges, is always underlying it.

durrand Joe the butcher 1

Joe The Butcher retired and took up gardening; Diana Durrand,  Mixed Media 10 x 16 inches

The third theme on our porcine subject is entitled Joe the Butcher retired and took up gardening. These images are mixed media, partly pastel, partly collage. The recurring pig-shaped profile now is the subject for infill with various flowers in colour harmony. The collage pieces are cut much like a diagram of a butcher’s diagram and in doing so, the patterned pig seems to be slightly more voluminous than  a simply flat shape.

I came away from these images with a smile. I liked the whimsical ideas, the historical references  and I admired the meticulous craftmanship.

On the opposite wall, there were five long panels of wood “cradles” which is a popular new support for painting. Topping each of the fifty two inch panels, separated by an inch or so,  are five smaller panels, the same width but eleven inches by sixteen. On each small panel, there is a charcoal drawing of a head. On the five long panels, there is a drawing mid-panel of hands expressing a particular mood.

Sheen panels small

Jo-Ann Sheen,  five wooden panels with charcoal drawings.

These works are filled with stillness, like five  nuns standing in a medieval austerity, although the faces are expressive and lively. Sheen is exploring the perceptions of identity, mirroring the soul of her subjects through their hand gestures and facial expressions.  Body language is not explored – the bodies that the heads and hands belong to are not there.

The remainder of Sheen’s works are complex psychological portraits (heads only) created through a layered process of etching, monotype printing and chine colle, a process of gluing very fine paper onto the etched paper whilst running the etching through the press.  This method produces beautiful surface qualities.

Jo-ann Sheen 3 small

Etching with chine collé by Jo-ann Sheen

The show ended on Saturday. A new one will be up on Wednesday, with the opening event for Betty Laughy happening on Friday the 27th of May. See you there!

BTW I looked up both Sheen and Durrand on the ‘Net to see what kind of web presence was available and to explore a larger body of their works. I only found one for Durrand, and I think you may enjoy it very much. This it it:


Note: Hearts on Noses is a Mini-pig Sanctuary, a non-profit organization in Maple Ridge, B.C.  that rescues, rehabilitates and cares for unwanted, injured, orphaned, abused, neglected and abandoned mini-pigs. Web address?



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3 Responses to “Pig Heaven – Diana Durrand and Jo-Ann Sheen”

  1. joy4everyone Says:

    Hi! Very nice pictures of pigs. I am on my way looking for pictures of pigs I could have on a cd-cover. I´t is your paintings? It´s okey for you if I use your pictures? (I don´t will earn some mony of it…

  2. joy4everyone Says:

    It it you who have paints this pictures of the pigs? I wounder if it okey for you If I use some of them to a cd-cover. I don´t will earn mony of them, but I will people to get it. The music and all.

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