Design

INTERIORS 2014: Keeping it Surreal with Diane Woodward

This is an excerpt that originally appeared in Ottawa Magazine Interiors 2014. See more of Woodward’s dazzling art at The Urban Pear, where her exhibit Easter Egg Hunt is on view until April 20.

By CINDY DEACHMAN

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These three-foot-long ferocious-looking fish swim through Woodward’s studio in her Madoc home. (Photo: Rémi Thériault)

It’s hard to imagine indefatigable artist Diane Woodward leaving this world of ours. But, she says, “When I’m sick and old, I wanna see colour when I go out. I want someone to paint a room red.” In another sense, though, leaving this world — at least temporarily — is what Woodward is all about.

Let go of the white, the beige, the grey. Leave behind the vacuous and the plain. Bring on the nail-biting reds, the smiley yellows, the preposterous purples, the swirly spirals, the eye-popping checks, and the dizzying waves (and these are simply the backdrops in Woodward’s paintings). Because you mustn’t overlook — impossible to — the subjects of her work — the frogs, parrots, elephants, tigers, giraffes, and kangaroos. Generously represented are Woodward’s favourites, the zebras: she has been painting these since 1982. Oh, and the gentle lambs. They showed up in her art 28 years later. “I’ve never liked anything ‘cute,’ ” Woodward says, “But the little lambs are, and it’s true and good. When they are four days old discovering how to hop — that’s more beautiful than anything I could make.”

Walk into Woodward’s house in Madoc, 2½ hours southwest of Ottawa, and you’re bowled over, simply bombarded, by all that you see. Almost every square inch of the walls, floors, and ceilings is plastered with cacophonic patterns, leaping animals, and in-your-face portraits. Even the itty-bitty travel alarm clock by her bed has been painted with a yellow and magenta sunburst. Are you hallucinating? Is this an acid flashback? No. Rather, welcome to the world of Diane Woodward. Her decor motto: More Is Not Enough

Wander through the unusual and animated home of Diane Woodward for a glimpse of jungle animals reminiscent of post-Impressionist painter Henri Rousseau, illusionistic op-art prints that echo Hungarian-French artist Victor Vasarely, and intricate works that recall classical Indian painting.