why include images of exhibition installations?
Viewing an art-work in isolation is different from viewing it in context, particularly that of a solo exhibition, where proximity to related work can contribute extra meaning. Moreover, the exhibition space itself - intimate or expansive, neutral or imposing, dark or light - will also change how a work is experienced. With these things in mind, whenever possible I record images of my work in situ. Installation shots are unavailable for solo exhibitions at McIntosh (London), Hart House, (Toronto), Laurentian (Sudbury) and several at the WWG (North Bay).
Stratford Art Gallery (1975) A Four Year Survey was the first opportunity I had to install a large solo exhibition in multiple adjacent spaces. Douglas Kirton assisted me with the installation that included several themes as it brought together work from 1971-5. It was also the first time I photographically recorded views of a complete exhibition.
White Water Gallery, at the time a second floor, Cooperative, Alternate gallery space in North Bay, was the venue for several solo exhibitions (1977 to 1983). A single rectangular space on main street, WWG was somewhere between a domestic and a commercial space.
Anna Leonowens Gallery 3 (1996): I had requested this small asymmetrical space as it provided an interesting opportunity for simultaneous viewing of most works in a show. For the content of this exhibition, it was particularly appropriate that a viewer's relationship to the manikins and to the framed essay was intimate rather than remote.
Sutton House (2000) built in 1535 for the Principal Secretary of State to Henry VIII, is now owned and operated by the National Trust. It is located in a part of London where my late-19th and early-20th century ancestors lived and worked. Exhibiting in Hackney was a way to take work back in time and space. The gallery itself had a unique patina: exposed bricks, plank floor, and irregular walls: exactly what is expected from a building in the care of the National Trust. The last I heard, regrettably Sutton House seems no longer to programme any space for contemporary art.
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (2000-1) afforded the opportunity to exhibit an expanded and more comprehensive collection of the work that was shown at Sutton House. AGNS provided a larger but still relatively intimate space appropriate to the scale and spirit of my domestically-referenced work. They also accommodated my request that the space be painted in other than typical gallery-white.
Dalhousie Art Gallery (2006) As with Stratford in 1974, these four large, adjacent spaces made possible both grouping and separation of different approaches to a common theme: compost and compost boxes. The university setting also ensured exposure of the work to an audience with broadly ranging interests.
Anna Leonowens Gallery 2 (2010): an invitation to participate in Past Practice: Contemporary Art & Archives generated an excuse for me to build a large site-specific installation that was based upon emerging as well as extant genealogical research. At the time of invitation, I had the bare bones of an idea. But as research progressed, new content produced new and interesting technical challenges like building a sewing-machine-powered, Heath-Robinson-like lathe for sanding eight, six foot columns.
The Craig Gallery (2016) is a particularly accessible space in that it is exposed to adjacent areas of the building via a glass wall, glass doors and a circular window. Alignment-Beach-Harbour brought together three series of works that focused upon ideas about the Nova Scotia shoreline. To read the wall-mounted statements, click here.
Fundy Geological Museum (2016): the Alignment and Beach Map paintings were exhibited at the museum in Parrsboro, NS under the title From Blue Sea to Western Head. It was an approach by the museum director, Tim Fedak, to bring the work to Parrsboro that made possible the contact with a new and different audience, something that always interests me. The space itself is long and narrow which is always a challenge when it comes to gaining a viewing position that is far enough back to comfortably see a work. In this case, it worked well as each wall provided an opportunity to view the work in series. For the installation, I was ably assisted by artist Ryan Josey.
The Corridor Gallery (2016): concurrent with the Parrsboro event, a group of ten small works were exhibited in the office of Visual Arts Nova Scotia (V.A.N.S.). This exhibit comprised seven Booth Maps and three Blitz Maps. As I write this, I believe these to be the two final series with genealogical content: content that surfaced in my work twenty years earlier. An explanatory statement that accompanied the installation is here.
The Craig Gallery (2017): late in 2016, a large display case was installed in the gallery's exterior wall and named the Craig Market Gallery. Even when the gallery is closed, work in the Craig Market Gallery is fully accessible to viewers. I was invited to kick off this new exhibition programme with a series of small sculptural works. Eighteen pieces: ten in part 1 (January) and eight in part 2 (February) were exhibited under the title unfinished business: parts 1 & 2. The Market Gallery now has two such display cases.
The Craig Gallery (2020): back in the main gallery for the month of January with work that harkens back to my 1970 solo show in London Ontario. It was The Last (Non) Picture Show as I had no plans to mount another solo show** and also because this work is clearly not pictorial. For those who know the movie The Last Picture Show (1971), you may recognise the poster layout for my non picture show as an homage to the original. For me, the appropriation of the poster layout provides a pleasing symmetry in that when Bogdanovich would have been filming, I would have been making the work for that first solo exhibition which was also non-pictorial. Fifty years later, here we are together again. The exhibition statement is here.
** since writing the above, I have accepted an invitation to show new work at the Art Lab in 2021.
Scrolling through the images below will provide an opportunity to attend many of the eighteen solo as well as a couple of group exhibitions that have occurred over a period of fifty years. I must confess that many documentary opportunities were missed. But that is water under the bridge.
A detailed look at individual works is available via the illustrated buttons on the home page.