Whale Dreams

Dive into the underwater world of whales with Colleen McLaughlin Barlow’s breathtaking paintings and extraordinary crystal sculptures of whale bones.

Marvel at McLaughlin Barlow’s luminescent whale bones, cast in lead crystal glass – each piece full of strength yet uniquely delicate. Admire her passion as you follow her series ‘Drawing My Way Through a Whale’ where every single bone of a dwarf sperm whale is catalogued and drawn. McLaughlin Barlow plays homage to these bones using multiple techniques: bold acrylics, electric chalks, delicate sumi-e inspired brushwork, texture-adding sea salt, and ink mixed with muddy water applied using a stick from the beach all work together to take the viewer on a magnificent journey of discovery.

About the Artist 

McLaughlin Barlow has exhibited her work across the globe, from her resident Vancouver, to Hawaii, to Paris. Pieces from her Whale Dreams series have been shown in Montreal, Kyoto, Tokyo, Oxford, and London, but this exhibition will be the most extensive, including many new and never before seen works. This is a unique opportunity to view McLaughlin Barlow’s stunning works alongside the actual whale bones, part of the Museum’s Cowan Tetrapod Collection, that they are drawn from.

Artist Statement

When a bone is made transparent it reveals its personal history – as in an x-ray. When it is transparent and three dimensional, it becomes magic. Bones used to be used to tell the future – the ‘casting’ of the bones – and have featured in many human ceremonies as sacred objects.  They are compelling not only as fetish but are elemental. We ourselves are supported by bones. My work explores the limnal state between the reality of actual skeletal remains and glass sculptures inspired by these bones. The complexities of the bone shapes are revealed in new lines and visual relationships not seen in the original opaque objects. Being able to see ‘though’ the bones is an extraordinary viewpoint. I use lost wax casting to retain the details of the individual bones I work with and I have cast this series of whale bones into lead crystal glass of oceanic hues to echo our most ancient antecedents.


Interactive Exhibition

This interactive feature exhibition also includes family friendly activities. Visitors can sketch whale bones, add origami marine life to our underwater garden, and dress up like a sea creature with our specially-made costumes.