Three teams pitched their designs on Thursday night for the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) as part of a planned arts district on the Halifax waterfront.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia hosted a live stream on YouTube with each team’s presentations.
Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic and “so much loss and struggle,” Jennifer Angel, president and CEO of Develop Nova Scotia, said she knows some people are asking whether now is the right time for a new gallery.
But she said social infrastructure matters as a way to bring people from different backgrounds together and build understanding and community.
“It may never have mattered more,” Angel said.
She added they hope to do for art galleries what the Halifax Central Library has done for libraries, building a “thriving destination” for people of all backgrounds.
Who are the design finalists?
The design teams noted their suggestions and renderings may look final but aren’t, since whoever wins the bid will then go into more extensive public consultations about the gallery and new arts district.
The finalists in the six-month international design competition are:
Architecture49 with Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Hargreaves Jones.
DIALOG, Acre Architects, Brackish Design Studio and Shannon Webb-Campbell.
KPMB Architects with Omar Gandhi Architect, Jordan Bennett Studio, Elder Lorraine Whitman (NWAC), Public Work and Transsolar.
The first team up was Architecture49, whose design had the gallery lifted above the streetscape on tree-like columns, enabling pedestrians to see the harbour all the way from the street in an “urban living room.” People can also stop into the café, lobby, shop and various places to sit and relax.
They are suggesting a “village” of smaller, flexible spaces on top of this platform, while some of the design, like the lecture theatre, extends down to the ground. There would also be a new grove of local trees dubbed the Salter Grove, a floating barge for art, and large lawn space.
The team said they wanted to keep the ground floor as accessible as possible and allow people to approach the gallery from all angles, while putting the galleries above sea level protects them from coastal erosion and flooding.
There would be a boardwalk on the harbour side with public art, a permanent outdoor stage and a garden courtyard. The roof of the gallery would be public as well and would overlook the water and Georges Island.
The DIALOG team presented second, and focused on the theme of a “people’s gallery” with a shape inspired by a whale and fog settling on the land.
By touching down in two spots, the building would create a covered arch for outdoor shows and events, and nearby they would open up the pavement to showcase an underground freshwater stream flowing down from Salter Street.
There would be a driftwood park and colourful, hanging buoys for kids to play on, as well as an elevator where people could digitally paint images, and a salon focused on Black Nova Scotian beauty skills.
While all three designs included Indigenous voices, elders and team members, the third from KPMB Architects built Mi’kmaw imagery and culture into the facade itself.
It is shaped like an eel, culturally important to the Mi’kmaq, while the Lower Water Street main entrance is peaked to represent the hats of Mi’kmaw matriarchs.
The waterfront would be divided between an inner lagoon and outer harbour waterfront that could have lots of floating elements for research, art and food, including a harbour pool.
All three teams incorporated some kind of living shoreline to work with the changing climate, such as including salt marshes or sea walls that will weather storms or allow beach access on calm days.
While the public still has a chance to weigh in online or at the current AGNS where there are physical models of the designs, the province said an expert panel of architects, a landscape architect, artists and museum professionals will make the final decision late next month.
Of the 15 to 16 pieces available for sale during that time, he’s been able to acquire all but a couple of them.
He said while there’s an “enormous level of curiosity” in Edenshaw’s work, the market “is in its infancy in a sense.
“I guess I have to say Art Toronto is a way to test the waters,” he said.
“In all likelihood, I might end up donating five or six works to the National Gallery or to (Vancouver Art Gallery) subject to what happens with the building.”
DEG is showing 19th century ledger drawings which were made by largely anonymous Indigenous artists from the Great Plains nations such as the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Lakota.
In many of them, horses figure prominently. When the animal was introduced by the Spanish to the Comanche in the 17th century, Ellis said, it led to major changes among all the aboriginal people in what later became the U.S..
Ellis said ledger drawings are “one of the most important aspects of North American art history and most people don’t even know they exist.”
They’re called ledger drawings because accounting ledger books were a major source of paper for Indigenous people.
“The drawings are both records of actual events and articulate the cumulative acquisition of spiritual power and status,” the Donald Ellis Gallery said in a news release.
Donald Ellis Gallery will donate 10 per cent of all sales to Canadian organizations addressing the legacy of residential schools, supporting Indigenous education and mental health, and promoting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. The gallery said clients can choose to support one of the following charitable organizations:
She enjoys creating wreaths and bouquets by layering threads and designs
When Henry first started her embroidery hobby about three years ago, she was looking for something to do creatively with her hands. One night while her husband was out, she asked him to pick up some supplies.
“I bought a couple of patterns online. Soon, I was doing it constantly. And while I was really enjoying it, I wasn’t very good. I’d never stitched anything before,” said the 27-year-old.
“It takes patience and practice. You really need to be devoted to it to get better.”
Soon, she was reading through a book of stitches, detailing the different types and techniques.
It’s a slow art, she said; it’s not something a person can pick up and finish within an hour.
“The first pieces I started were floral bouquets. I basically would rough outline and then fill it in as I went. I’d work with different colours of threads and details.”
As she continued to hone her craft, people would tell her that her embroidery pieces were beautiful and that she should consider selling them.
“I was asked to recreate a bridal bouquet for a wedding commission. Monograms as well. You can customize each creation. It makes a good keepsake, even hanging decorations in a newborn’s room.”
But selling her work didn’t come immediately.
“I was nervous to put anything out. People said they were good, but I wasn’t sure they were good enough.”
Another Island maker asked her if she ever considered entering an Etsy pop-up or starting her own Etsy store. That interaction helped her gain more confidence to start a business, Hoop and Holler.
Of all of the embroidery she creates, Henry said likes the different wreathes she can make by designing flower patterns and bouquets.
“It’s all about layering. I love the texture in pieces I can create by using different thicknesses of thread. It’s always fun. Every piece depends on what works for you and what works for the piece.”
The practice of embroidering is relaxing, she said.
“Any craft where you can use your hands, focus on it, but then still have the opportunity to have the tv going or listen to music while you work… there’s nothing better than embroidering while you’re under a cozy blanket with a cup of tea by you and a movie on.”
She said she’d like to start working on more personalized pieces, a trend that she’s seeing among makers.
“I feel like embroidered flowers and greenery are always going to be popular. But I’ve seen lately people are using thread to paint a picture rather than use traditional stitches. People are getting portraits made or even pet portraiture. So, a piece of thread will have six individual strands, and then an artist will use those six strands to start the project. Adding a more authentic texture to what the picture is of.”
Get a hoop
Pick a material (not too thick) and thread.
Secure fabric in the embroidery hoop.
Using a pen or other writing utensil, sketch a pattern on the fabric lightly; this will act as a guide for the pattern.
Depending on the design, there could be several stitches used to fill in the design (running stitch, whip stitch, fishbone stitch, woven wheel, etc.)
Once finished, Henry adds another fabric to the hoops acting as a backing.
When Henry is finishing a project, she prefers to finalize the creation in a wooden hoop.
“They’re really simple and pretty and compliment the projects compared to the bright-coloured, plastic ones. But when I’m in the process of making something, I prefer the plastic ones, because they can hold the fabric really snug, and that’s what you want.”
The hoop must be snug and tight against the fabric to make sure the material doesn’t crease, which can make the process harder and impact the designs, she said.
“I prefer to use cotton or linen because it isn’t super thick. When the fabric is thick, it will be harder to stitch. I typically use quilters cotton and D.M.C. embroidery thread.
“As for needles, get some that are big enough so you can thread the needle, but one that’s not too big that it will leave visible holes in the fabric. I also keep a pair of small, sheer scissors.”
For someone who wants to start an embroidery project but doesn’t have the materials, there are many local Canadian artists that can supply them with the materials, pdfs, and kits.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of kits become available to people wanting to give it a try. I think it (and other hobbies like this) are being sold a lot more and becoming more popular because people are looking for a way to relax.
“And it’s an awesome craft because it’s portable. You can do it where ever you want.”
She said those looking to try a new hobby, including embroidery, shouldn’t be a perfectionist.
“If I could go back and tell myself anything, it would be just that, not to be such a perfectionist. Just have fun and be creative. Don’t be so concerned about the end result. Make it about the process and get enjoyment out of it. Use it as a way to relax or learn.”
Local dignitaries gathered on Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of Art Works, the city’s newest Art Centre.
Joining owner Chris Bennett for the official ribbon cutting was Belleville Chamber of Commerce CEO Jill Raycroft, Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith, Belleville Councillor Garnet Thompson on behalf of the City of Belleville and Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis.
Bennett, a familiar name in the local art scene is the creator behind many of the amazing murals seen around the city. Bennett has been a self-employed muralist, dancer, performing and multi-faceted artist and performing artist in the Belleville area for more than 25 years.
Bennett’s dream has always been to provide arts opportunities for youth and adults, helping them grow and discover their passions through inspiration, education and the freedom to express themselves.
Art Works is his dream come true.
“Art Works reflects how well I am personally doing as an artist; to be able to give back and provide a space for all aspiring and established artists to grow from and to be the influence to our community that I did not have growing up in the Quinte area by creating a studio like no other,” said Bennett.
Check out Art Works on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Arts—Entertainment/Art-Works-203932277210806/). Art Works is located at 257 North Front St. in Belleville.
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