In 2016 the Bank of Canada invited members of the public to nominate an iconic Canadian woman to grace the new design of the nation’s $10 bill. In just over a month the Bank received over 26,000 submissions. Four hundred and sixty one of these nominations were considered. An independent advisory council compiled a long list of twelve names and then a short list of five. Viola Desmond, a Black civil rights activist from Nova Scotia, was chosen as the face for the new bill.
The nomination process drew much public attention and, in addition to aiding in the redesign of the banknote, this national discussion brought the contributions of many Canadian women into the public conversation.
Big Dreams is a continuation of this dialogue. Each of the ten ceramic wall pillows features the image of a significant woman in Canadian history. The women are accompanied by botanical line drawings that speak conceptually to the person’s life history.
At first glance the flowers on these pieces can be seen merely as objects valued for their beauty. A deeper look at this imagery, however, reveals a rich symbolic language that subverts the facile correlation between women, flowers, and domesticity.