Reilly Knowles is a settler interdisciplinary artist living and working in London, Ontario — on the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak, Anishinaabek, and Chonnonton Nations, lands connected with the London Township and Sombra Treaties of 1796, as well as the Dish with One Spoon Covenant Wampum. A 2020 graduate of Western University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts Program, Knowles has held solo shows at Good Sport Gallery (London, ON, Forest City Gallery (London, ON), Jordan Art Gallery (Jordan, ON) and the Queen Elizabeth Park Community & Cultural Centre (Oakville, ON). He is a member of London-based artist collectives Good Sport and The Coves Collective, as well as a recipient of the Forest City Gallery Exhibition Award, the Mackie Cryderman Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts, and the Tony and Betsy Little Gold Medal in Visual Arts.
I am at work forging attentive and reciprocal relationships with the ecosystem I inhabit. Connecting deeply with more-than-humans is an essential part of my life as well as my drive to create and share.
I gather debris washed from the rivers and harvest plants from the forests. I then fashion textiles, drawings and paintings speaking of, and made from, my time learning from the creatures with whom I share my habitat. I am interested in the earth’s interwoven forces of growth and decay – the taking, the giving, the changing – and the way these forces act upon the human body and its creative outputs.
My work is equally fascinated by local mythologies – in particular, settler legends of the supernatural and witchcraft in which humans entwine themselves with the land and their more-than-human neighbours. Populated by figures who blur the threshold between humans, animals and plants, my work represents a deliberate, transformative interpretation of these stories in which the colonist forms a supernatural intimacy with the land. Yet this intertwining is far from idyllic; my work also reflects upon the paranoia and pain underpinning these historical “accounts” of a haunted world.