Woodstock artists awarded public art commission to commemorate Florence Carlyle

Posted on Monday June 24, 2024

Two Woodstock artists have been chosen to create a sculpture in honour of historic painter Florence Carlyle.

Duane and Urszula Kumala-Thomas were awarded the public art commission for the City of Woodstock. Their sculpture, BIRD SET FREE, was selected by the public art committee from a shortlist of four proposals.

Inspired by Carlyle’s nickname, “Bird,” the artwork combines three components — a bird, a birdcage and a corset — and explores the theme of confinement and freedom, reflecting on Carlyle’s life and the evolving societal norms of her time.

The husband-and-wife artist team, who live in Woodstock and co-own a local photography and framing studio, have a unique personal connection to Carlyle.

“This project holds a special place in our hearts. Beyond the significance of celebrating Florence Carlyle’s legacy in our community, as parents of two, we have had the honour of raising our family in the same home Carlyle grew up in,” said Duane Kumala-Thomas.

The Woodstock Art Gallery launched the public art commission in May 2023 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Carlyle’s death.

BIRD SET FREE is a fitting tribute to Florence Carlyle’s accomplishments as a trailblazing female artist. I’d like to extend my sincere congratulations to Duane and Urszula and thank the members of the public art committee who made this thoughtful selection,” said Mary Reid, Director/Curator of the Woodstock Art Gallery.

The sculpture is expected to be installed in Florence Carlyle Park by 2025. More information can be found at

The project is funded in part by the Government of Canada.

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