Fake Plastic Trees: The Photography of Biliana Velkova


Tartooful is honoured to once again host acclaimed local artist Biliana Velkova and her most recent series as a part of the 2016 Capture Photography Festival.

Fake Plastic Trees presents Velkova’s wry observations on the branding and commodification of nature.  She romanticizes, exaggerates, and complicates the exploitation of nature, referencing tourist tropes found throughout the Saskatchewan prairies and Alberta’s Rocky Mountains.


Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Velkova lived under the Communist regime until immigrating to Canada in 1991 at the age of fifteen.  Her memories of communism have deeply impacted the way in which she perceives the “West”, leading her to explore issues of capitalism, appropriation, and Western femininity.  Although her interdisciplinary practice focuses on social and political issues from a devastatingly accurate, critical perspective, her delivery is optimistic, witty and affectionate.


From iconic, fake palm trees found throughout Saskatoon to the majestic views of Lake Louise, Velkova’s cinematic photographs celebrate opulence and kitsch.  The glossy images of fake plastic trees create a spectacle from everyday encounters.  Through her Bulgarian lens, Velkova offers a fresh and alternative way of viewing and interpreting the Canadian landscape we thought we knew.

“When an outsider comes to a new place, he sees the picturesque and the freakish, whereas the local sees through layers of emotion and memory” – Walter Benjamin.

Fake Plastic Trees by Biliana Velkova is now showing at Tartooful until April 28, 2016.  Please join us at the gallery for the Opening Celebration, 8th April, 2016 from 7pm.



Inspiration found… the Autumn Garden


This time of year it feels as though the garden is having one last little celebration of the year… one final fling before it’s time for many of our favorite plants to take a few months of well deserved rest.

secret-garden-alchemillaEver since I was a child I’ve imagined the deciduous trees dressing up in their party best of gold and red to throw one final celebration of a year well done.  After all, they’ve been working hard ever since Spring… busy busy, make the flowers, make the leaves,

secret-garden-mushroomsgrow the leaves, time for new shoots, grow those branches, reach for more sunlight, go go go…. then time for fruit and berries, set those nuts, make the seeds, busy busy busy no time to rest if you are a tree.  Until October.  Then, it’s time to have a wild celebration of colour and pass out til Spring.  Isn’t it fantastically fun?  I’ve always thought it would make a great childrens’ book, with lovely watercolour illustrations.  Perhaps one of these days I’ll get to that project.

secret-garden2In the meanwhile the Autumn garden offers me unlimited inspiration.  Even as flowers finish and die down, leaves become tattered and the songbirds flee South… the quieter, more subtle stars of the Autumn garden come into their own.

secret-garden-dew-on-webYou’ll have to look a little closer to notice some of them.  The macro lens that I use to photograph Trollbeads glass is trained on tiny droplets of dew glistening on Lady’s Mantle leaves.  A carpet of moss is a miniature forest, with seeds glowing in the warm light.


A few flowers stand bravely in the garden… Coneflowers, Japanese Anemones, sedum and hardy fuschias are still adding flourishes of raspberry in various sunny corners.

secret-garden-musroom2… and oh my the mushrooms!  Love these magical little things, more creature than plant, popping up unexpectedly in crazy patterns about the lawn, flower beds and all over.  Such amazing shapes and forms.

secret-garden-lookupFinally, after one has been looking closely for some time, it’s easy to forget to look up… in my garden its way, wayyyy up to the top of the trees… sometimes clothed in low lying clouds, other times catching the sun and glowing madly.  The trees feel like the real owners of our piece of the world – having been here long before our family, or the family before us, or any of the houses.  Surely these sturdy mammoths will be here long after as well.

It’s wonderful timing that the same day I took these images, one of our most beloved Trollies popped into the gallery with an inspired bracelet composition that she calls her “Secret Garden”… stay tuned to see a design that could so easily have been created with these garden photographs in mind…


True North Shore: Francis Tremblay and Steelwood Design

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Join us for the opening celebration of “True North Shore” and come meet artist Francis Tremblay and designer Alexis Dodd of Steelwood Design.  Their inspiring work brings the best of the North Shore way of life into our homes…

Opening March 13th, 2013 from 5 til 8pm

at Tartooful – 3183 Edgemont Boulevard, North Vancouver.  604.924.0122



Open house at B.C. Binning House

Today is the Modern House Tour, hosted annually by the West Vancouver Museum.  For those of you who missed out on this sold-out event, you can still enjoy a tour of one of British Columbia’s first and most influential Modernist Homes:  The Land Conservancy is hosting an open house today at B.C. Binning House.  If you have not been to this inspiring place, you owe it to yourself to make the trip today.

Photos via Land Conservancy

This is the home that artist Bertram Charles Binning designed for himself and his beloved wife, Jessie, in 1941.  He had recently returned from a life-changing trip to Europe, where he studied with artist Henry Moore, and was strongly affected by the modernist architectural movements of the day.  On his way back he visited MOMA New York’s ground breaking exhibition on Modernist Home Design.  Here in Vancouver, one of his close friends and design colleagues was architect, Ned Pratt.  All these influences are apparent in his home design, but there’s an element of poetic design that is distinctly his own.

B.C Binning House is located at  2968 Mathers Crescent, West Vancouver.  The open house is hosted today from 12 noon til 4pm by the Land Conservancy, with admission by donation.