Gabrielle de Montmollin | Selected Works

A selection of images by Gabrielle de Montmollin was on display at Mahtay Cafe at 241 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines in the Fall of 2022. These include works from the series Bird Women, Leading Ladies and Carnevale at the Hotel of the Bridge of Sighs. This is the second in a series of six exhibitions of Niagara based artists I’m curating in the Mahtay space.

Gabrielle de Montmollin is a Welland based artist and co founder of AIH Studios (179 East Main in downtown Welland).

B.J. Navarro, writing for fotophile described Montmollin’s art in the following manner: ‘Using plastic Barbie dolls, vegetables and toy animals, Gabrielle de Montmollin creates allegories of nature, womanhood and dreams. At once seductive and vaguely sinister, the images form fantasy landscapes that lead viewers to chuckle while trying to reconcile the storytelling elements they contain.’

Montmollin offers the following about her artwork: “I use photography to give form to ideas and concepts from my imagination. Surrealism and humour are frequent tools I play with in my art. My preference is to make images which tell a story, or construct a narrative especially when the story is not obvious or clearly defined and the viewer can interpret it based on their own personal experience. At times, in addition to my personal imaginings, I work to find visual expression for my feelings about social justice issues and politics.”

I’ve been lucky enough to publish responses to Montmollin’s work and we often chat about the ‘characters’ in the scenes she arranges and documents for us. I also enjoy speaking in ‘collage’ about her work, with quotes like this one: “It is an anxious, sometimes dangerous thing to be a doll. Dolls cannot choose, they can only be chosen; they cannot “do”, they can only be done by.” (Rumer Godden, from her book The Doll’s House)

A photo installation of her work – Weird Baby World – at Niagara Artists Centre was also the subject of a longer feature I wrote for curated. That can be read here.