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Duane & Urszula Kumala-Thomas present

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Florence Carlyle


"BIRD SET FREE" seeks to honour the life and accomplishments of Florence Carlyle, esteemed resident of Woodstock, Ontario and now renowned Canadian artist.


Combining physical, spiritual, and conceptual elements, the artwork offers a nuanced perspective on Carlyle's life and the evolving societal norms of her time. The central theme revolves around the juxtaposition of confinement and freedom, combining three components; a bird, a birdcage, and a corset.


Featuring the birdcage with its top torn open, capped by a distorted corset, and a bird in flight, this visual metaphor embodies Carlyle's journey. It offers a unique exploration of the human form in tribute to the artist, recognizing and paying homage to her legacy, as well as her love and acceptance in connection with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

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The sculpture aims to be both visually appealing from a distance, while taking on more immersive qualities up close. Each detail serves as a narrative thread, encourages visitors to delve deeper into the layers of meaning embedded within its design. 


As viewers approach, their attention is immediately captured by the twisting contours of the corset top, where vibrant painted pieces intertwine and cascade down into the birdcage frame. Joined together by a tapestry of rustic, random shapes, these elements create a fabric-like texture that invite exploration.

Upon entering the birdcage structure, visitors will find themselves enveloped by the feminine skeletal form. The openness of the enclosure inspires individuals to feel free in their thoughts, symbolizing the liberation Carlyle represented and advocated.


Looking up through the torn skylight, visitors will see a bird in flight drawing a connection to the beautiful surrounding environment, reminiscent in many of Carlyle's paintings.

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Duane Kumala-Thomas was born and raised in Woodstock. His work explores concepts concerning multiculturalism and perspective.


He is inspired by artists such as Salvador Dali and Gustav Klimt.  Through the exploration of contrast, Duane deconstructs norms to re-present familiar ideas in unique ways.

Urszula Kumala-Thomas was born in Poland, grew up in Woodstock and is a graduate of the Bachelor of Arts Honours program from the University of Guelph.


Influenced by the likes of Käthe Kollowitz and Gustav Klimt, her unique artistic style and creative expression are shaped by her diverse cultural influences and academic background.

As husband and wife, Duane and Urszula co-own Highlander Studios. As parents of two, they had the honour of raising their family in the same home Florence Carlyle grew up in.

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