Jennifer Angus at the Textile Museum of Canada (55 Centre), to May 14. $10, stu/srs $6, Wednesday 5-8 pm pwyc. 416-599-5321. Rating: NNNN
Jennifer Angus sets her four-room installation at the Textile Museum in the home of a fictional, reclusive Victorian naturalist. What the eye at first reads as exuberant floral and geometric wall patterns on closer examination turn out to be creations made entirely out of insects pinned to the walls. Small tables hold trays of calling cards with insect-related quotes and jewellery boxes whose drawers contain glittering insect collages.
Although it's called A Terrible Beauty, the show manages to charm. Cockroaches, bedbugs and houseflies might provoke more of a shudder, but the large insects Angus uses - bought from dealers who harvest them sustainably in Southeast Asia, and recycled into her other installations - are so beautiful and exotic that you feel more dazzled than disturbed.
The insects' complex natural forms are orchestrated into familiar symmetrical geometric designs. As such, the show complements the Dance Of Pattern exhibit, exploring textile stripes and checks, upstairs. A Terrible Beauty comments on the practices of European naturalists who once plundered the world to bring home natural curiosities for museums and collectors. Angus provides an aesthetic context for the display of specimens that some found lacking in the Science Centre's Body Worlds show.
But the primary attraction here is the pleasure of walking through these rooms, marvelling at the graphic patterns and the bugs themselves. It's a show that appeals to kids as well as adults, and how many art shows can you say that about?