Pale Fire

Janine Dunn: cover the taken bone


May 18–June 22, 2024



In his essay “The Work of Local Culture,” American writer and agrarian Wendell Berry recalls a galvanized bucket that hung from a fencepost on his grandfather’s farm in Kentucky. For over fifty years, he watched the bucket gather fallen leaves, feathers, nuts and bugs. These materials naturally composted over time into several inches of black humus. On this phenomenon, Berry reflects: “I recognize there an artistry and a farming far superior to mine, or to that of any human. … It has been at work immemorially over most of the land surface of the world. All creatures die into it, and they live by it.” He then observes that a similar process of social accretion, through sharing and circulating stories, is integral to creating a vital local culture and bonded community.

Janine Dunn has begun to share stories of daily life on her farm on the Sunshine Coast through painting. She draws on personal impressions of motherhood, animal husbandry, degradation and repair, shared labour and hospitality, and isolation and solitude. Dunn makes space for the work of dreams, symbols and archetypes to filter her narrative impulses. Influenced by the principles of the early twentieth-century purism movement, which valued basic forms stripped of decoration, she uses methods such as bisection, redaction and abstraction to distill her compositions into simplified figures.


Janine Dunn is an artist and farmer living in Gibsons, BC. Her work is inspired by her environment, agrarian culture and her community. Her paintings are suffused with people, animals, plants, rural architecture, machinery and tools. She works with industrial, agricultural and domestic materials and collaborates with the weather and elements to develop her canvases. In 2023, Dunn won a commission to create a permanent public art sculpture, called The Landing Eye, for the town of Gibsons.