"They are interesting as new collectables, not because they are beautifully crafted or skillfully designed, but because they are fun, ridiculous and encapsulate a moment of time or history - whether a popular current Disney character or Millennium celebrations in Trafalgar Square."
- Jasmine Birtles, financial journalist and comedian
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- Notice that an ordinary tourist trinket is combined with a political subject matter.
- Why is there a baby in the background and why is Norman Schwarzkopf smiling?
- Does the floating sand have the same effect as the snowflakes you usually find in snow globes?
It's almost like a little frame, a little stage set in there, and pretty open to whatever you want to do.
- Wendy Allen has been creating custom-made snow domes since 1990. She set out to replace the typically cheap mass-produced snow domes with intimate and personal objects created with quality and attention to detail.
- The glass is hand-blown by a professional glassblower, and is thicker and stronger than the glass of manufactured snow domes.
- The objects and figures inside the domes are carefully selected, arranged and hand-painted. The interior scene is mounted on a ceramic base and a coloured glass glaze is baked on to add a high-gloss finish.
- Allen uses the snow dome format as a stage for personal and artistic expression. In Desert Storm, Allen expresses her feelings about the first Gulf War, an American-led coalition against Iraq that began in 1990 with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
- An image of General Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander of the coalition forces, takes centre stage and is surrounded by sand. A gun rests behind his portrait and the Statue of Liberty has toppled over in the foreground. The sky is blood red and at a certain angle; a child is visible. We can even activate a sand storm by shaking the dome.
- This is not your everyday, idyllic snow dome with happy children frolicking in the snow or a landmark or famous building. The sand is coarse and makes the water seem murky. Despite Schwarzkopf's smug pose, Allen does not see the Gulf War as a triumph. Rather, she undermines the glorification of war. This is hardly the medium to pay tribute to war. Here it is turned into a small souvenir, a trinket for our viewing pleasure.
- Souvenirs are happy, benign reminders of our travels. Wendy Allen's souvenir of war is a reminder of a world affected by conflict.
Share your thoughts and ideas! Reply to a previous comment, tell us what you think about this work or respond to this question.
Snow globes are a common souvenir. Are there other souvenirs that you could use as a medium for your art?
Check out other snow domes by Wendy Allen.
Learn more about the Gulf War.
Wendy Allen grew up in Locust Hill, Ontario, a small village that was more like a train station than a town. After high school, instead of going to university, Allen decided to travel to gain a different kind of education. Fourteen years later, she had travelled to some 20 countries and lived in Mexico, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South America, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. Allen studied art in Italy, Paris and at the Banff Centre. She now lives with her family in Nelson, B.C., a place that is remote and small like her beginnings.
Desert Storm, 1992
glass with plastic objects, water, mirror, sand
8.5 x 9.8 x 7.2 cm
Collection of Glenbow Museum; Gift of Douglas MacLean and M.B Laviolette, 2001