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Former Ikea store could become home to important works of art – CNN

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Written by Jack Guy, CNN

A former Ikea store in the UK could undergo a major design revamp in order to become home to some of the country’s “greatest works of art.”

Following the closure of the building by Swedish furniture maker in March last year, local politicians in Coventry, central England, are now considering purchasing the seven story building with the hope of converting the structure into a new cultural facility.

The new space could feature a variety of collections, according to a statement from Coventry City Council published Monday. The project would make for a “lasting physical, economic and cultural legacy,” added the council.

Coventry is the UK City of Culture 2021, a designation given to a city for a period of one year to celebrate local culture through events, music, dance, theater and performances.

The aim is to attract “some of the country’s greatest works of art and provide greater public access to Coventry’s own cultural and heritage collections.”

The Ikea store in Coventry.

The Ikea store in Coventry. Credit: Jacob King/PA Images/Getty Images

A preview of the proposed design for the new center.

A preview of the proposed design for the new center. Credit: Coventry City Council

The council is partnering with Arts Council England, which owns around 8,000 artworks by modern and contemporary British artists. The body loans the works out in order to reach the broadest possible audience, according to Coventry council documents.

Discussions over plans for the former Ikea store have been going on for months, according to the council. Councilors will vote on the plans on February 23.

The council said the purchase and conversion of the building was a “multi-million pound project.” A spokesman for the local authority told CNN that negotiations are ongoing pending approval from the council and did not provide a more specific figure for the cost of the project.

“This exciting and amazing proposal really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something Coventry people can be rightly proud of as well as a national and international centre of excellence that will be a lasting legacy from our year as UK City of Culture,” said councilor David Welsh, the council’s cabinet member for housing and communities, in a statement.

Jim O’Boyle, a councilor for the local authority, said many people were “disappointed” when the Ikea store closed, adding that the council was aiming to bring the “landmark building back into use as something special.”

The Ikea store was built in 2007. Built over seven floors due to a lack of space, the unusual design pushed up operating costs and compromised the shopping experience, Ikea said in a statement in last year.

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‘We are really going somewhere’: Qaumajuq Inuit art centre opening this month at the Winnipeg Art Gallery – The Globe and Mail

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Qaumajuq is the first of its kind in the world – a unique sharing space where Inuit voices are front and centre.

Lindsay Reid/Winnipeg Art Gallery

In a Prairie city, 2,000 kilometres from Iqaluit, Canada is building a monument to Inuit culture: Qaumajuq, the new Inuit art centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, opens to the public March 27. It will house the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world, with examples from all four regions of the Nunangat – the Inuit homeland in Canada – as well as work from other circumpolar territories; the planning has involved Inuit curators, artists and elders from the start. And yet Qaumajuq sits on the Métis homeland and traditional territories of the Cree, Dene and Dakota, a place of tall grasses and big rivers far distant from the blue ice and sharp peaks of the Nunangat.

Why Winnipeg?

“We get that question a lot,” WAG director Stephen Borys says.

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Truth is, Winnipeg has always been a cultural crossroads. With a colonial history as a fort, a Hudson’s Bay depot and a medical centre, it is the place where East meets West and the South goes North. In the 1950s, it was already a city where a Viennese art historian could start the WAG collection by buying Inuit carvings at the Bay. Today, it’s the place where the first Inuk with a PhD in art history can help launch a unique collaboration between the gallery, the government of Nunavut, the First Nations of Manitoba and the people of the North.

“Museums came out of a history of the Western [way of] knowing, documenting, classifying and colonializing: Museums were places to hold knowledge of other cultures,” said curator Heather Igloliorte, the Labrador Inuk and Concordia University art historian who advised the WAG. “It’s a lot of work to unpack how institutions function in the present. I am very proud of the work we are doing and grateful to everyone at the WAG. … We are really going somewhere.”

South-facing view of Visible Vault at Qaumajuq, designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture and associate Cibinel Architecture.

Lindsay Reid/Winnipeg Art Gallery

One of the reasons this is happening at the WAG is because the institution has a long commitment to collecting Inuit art created after 1949. It began buying seriously in the 1950s long before other Canadian public galleries, which tended to view the carvings and prints as ethnographic material best left to what was then called the Museum of Man in Ottawa. This origin story is a funny one: Ferdinand Eckhardt, the Austrian lured to Winnipeg to lead WAG in 1953, first saw Inuit sculpture in the gift shop at the Bay, located just across the street from the gallery. Why, he wondered, wasn’t his institution collecting this unique Northern art form?

The collection grew rapidly, regularly enhanced by donations from local collectors encouraged by Eckhardt’s interest, but also including several pieces he actually purchased from the Bay. By 2008, when Borys arrived on the scene, the WAG had amassed more than 13,000 works, both sculptures and prints, including many of the most recognized Cape Dorset images such as Kenojuak Ashevak’s The Enchanted Owl. (Only the archive of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative of Cape Dorset has more items, while the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa has a larger collection of archeological material.) Meanwhile, the WAG has continued to acquire the increasingly non-traditional and unconventional work produced by contemporary Inuit artists.

Jesse Tungilik’s sealskin and beads spacesuit (2019), a collection of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) Indigenous Art Centre.

Jessica Kotierk/Winnipeg Art Gallery

With that scale of collection, overseen by curator Darlene Coward Wight, the WAG became an obvious partner for Nunavut after the establishment of the new territory in 1999. The Nunavut archives hold a collection of more than 7,000 works, all kept in storage awaiting the day when the territory can finally build an art centre of its own. In the meantime, it has lent the material to Winnipeg, where many pieces will go on public display for the very first time and will also be digitized for remote access.

Physically, many of the sculptures will be housed in the three-storey-high open vault that is the centrepiece of Qaumajuq and the new building designed by Los Angeles architect Michael Maltzan. It’s a tower of glass shelving that brings 4,500 carvings into the light, profiting from stone’s immunity to UV damage. It can be seen from the street through the glass façade that makes up the lower half of the building; the curving upper portion, clad in white granite, echoes the shape of an iceberg, and the whole wing tucks up alongside the blunt end of the modernist triangle that is the original WAG building. At night, the vault will shine like a lantern and at any time of day it stands as a symbol of the new institution’s transparency. Qaumujuq means “it is bright,” or “it is lit,” in Inuktitut.

Before Maltzan came on board, the WAG had already established an Indigenous advisory circle co-chaired by Igloliorte, who grew up in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L.: Her father’s family hails from Nunatsiavut, the Inuit territory in Labrador, while her mother is a white Newfoundlander. The advisory circle has stressed several areas in which the WAG could decolonize as it built Qaumajuq; the most obvious is the use of Inuktitut and First Nations names for all the galleries, chosen by a group of 14 elders and language keepers. The front lobby and vault are called Ilavut, meaning “our relatives,” recognizing both the artists and the artworks as spiritual predecessors.

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“It’s not just lip service but making Indigenous language part of the institution,” Igloliorte said, stressing that Inuktitut names, rather than generic English descriptors, were being used by gallery staff. “What’s unique about this advisory circle was it was formed before ground was broken. … The WAG was willing to give up some power and authority to Indigenous people.”

The circle also recommended there be an Indigenous member of the WAG executive – she is Julia Lafreniere, head of Indigenous initiatives, who is Métis – and more Indigenous participation in the education department. (The nearby Canadian Museum for Human Rights got in trouble last year after it was discovered that non-Indigenous docents were telling First Nations stories to visitors.)

Left to right: Nicole Luke and Jocelyn Piirainen. Physical visitors will also be able to tour Inua, the centre’s inaugural exhibition.

Calvin Lee Joseph/Winnipeg Art Gallery

Part of Lafreniere’s job is to figure out what Qaumajuq means to the Indigenous community on Treaty One, the 1871 agreement covering southern Manitoba, a territory that is home to five First Nations and the Métis.

“It’s really important that we are praying for the artwork and welcoming it to this territory; welcoming Inuit knowledge to this territory,” Lafreniere said, adding there were many similar traditions among Indigenous peoples but that Inuit geography was very different. She pointed to the figure of Sedna, the goddess of the sea who features in Inuit creation myths and visual art, as an example of a maritime culture quite foreign to First Nations in Manitoba. Blending the various cultures, Lafreniere has been organizing a series of opening ceremonies, some virtual, some outdoor, relying on Inuit and First Nations elders for appropriate prayers, songs and dances. Until the pandemic is clear, the only Inuit who can visit Qaumajuq are the few who live in Winnipeg already or who have come south for medical care, but the WAG is offering free admission to all Indigenous people on March 22.

“My favourite thing is to bring Inuit people into the building and see their faces light up,” she said.

Physical visitors will also be able to tour Inua, the centre’s inaugural exhibition. It’s another exercise in inclusion, organized by four curators from each region of the Nunangat. From east to west, Igloliorte comes from Nunatsiavut, Asinnajaq is an artist from Nunavik in Northern Quebec; Krista Ulujuk Zawadski is the curator of Inuit art for the government of Nunavut, and Kablusiak, an Inuk artist from the West now based in Calgary, was shortlisted for the Sobey Award in 2019.

The show they have put together, featuring 100 works by artists from across the circumpolar region, includes some Inuit art from the 1960s and 1970s, but also some highly contemporary examples, including Jesse Tungilik’s sealskin spacesuit and two works by Eldred Allen, a Labrador photographer who stitches together multiple drone photos to create digitally altered landscapes.

“We want to surprise people and say how you are thinking about Inuit art is not the only way to think about Inuit art,” Igloliorte said.

The four have also included an ancestor display where each presents a work by a forbearer, recognizing the way Inuit art is often created by artistic dynasties. Igloliorte has included a caribou skin purse sewn by her grandmother, the seamstress Susannah Igloliorte.

Photo by Labrador photographer Eldred Allen, who stitches together multiple drone photos to create digitally altered landscapes.

Winnipeg Art Gallery

The bold contemporary works, many specially commissioned for the opening, will provide a powerful contrast to Ilavut, the open vault that features many of the stone carvings on loan from Nunavut.

How long will they stay there, thousands of kilometres away from home? The WAG has renewed a five-year loan agreement with Nunavut to 2025, but “I will be the first to send it back as soon as they want it,” Borys said. “It’s a wheel, and we are not the hub, but a spoke.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled the Inuit art centre Qaumajuq.

Qaumajuq, the new Inuit art centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, opens to the public March 27 with a limited number of free timed tickets that day. The virtual opening celebrations take place March 25 and March 26 at 6:30 p.m. CST, and can be viewed at wag.ca/opening.

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Mapping Art show to reach five communities with Indigenous film – NNSL MEDIA – Northern News Services

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The Northern Arts and Cultural Centre is hitting the road to five NWT communities with five separate mapping art shows this month. 

There will be three shows per night in each location, each featuring a portfolio of International Indigenous art shown on a prominent building wall.

Marie Coderre, NACC’s executive and artistic director, announced the Ebb + Flow: Outdoor Project Show of International Indigenous Artists, which NACC is putting on in collaboration with the GLAM Collective – a group of Indigenous scholars who use public art and other visual elements.

A still image of Amrita Hepi is taken from the Movement of Place (2019), highlighting New Zealand and Australia. It will be part of the outdoor mapping art shows in Inuvik, Fort Smith, Hay River, Fort Simpson and Norman Wells this month.
image courtesy of NACC

Coderre said NACC typically puts on 40 shows a year outside of Yellowknife. The mapping art projects are special because of the lack of shows over the last year. 

“It has been really hard,” she said when asked about preparing shows for areas outside the capital. “We were able to do a lot of stuff this year for Yellowknife. But with the Covid restrictions, it has been really hard to plan something around the small communities when it’s time to present something that was performing arts.” 

Coderre said since last spring she has been working with the Western Arctic Moving Pictures’ Davis Heslep on the idea of having mapping art shows. 

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“Back in Montreal, back in my home, I grew up with mapping art,” Coderre said. “It was everywhere and it is a project I had been wanting to do for a long time. It was just a matter of finding this technology and securing the money.

“The project that we’re presenting is a collective of six artists from different places like Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. And we are presenting a series of short films from them on a wall and in each community.”

Inuvik’s show is delayed until March 7 due to complications shipping the two projectors, which are being sent by cargo on Saturday.

It had been scheduled on March 6 at Chief Jim Koe Park.

A still image by Logan McDonald from Newfoundland will be shown at the mapping art shows this month.
Image courtesy of NACC

The time slots of 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. will be the same for every location.

The tour will also include Norman Wells on March 10 at Mackenzie Mountain School, Fort Simpson on March 14 at Líídlįį Kúę Elementary School, Hay River on March 17 at Aurora Ford Ice Arena and Fort Smith on March 20 at the recreation centre. 

Coderre said each show will be 30 minutes with a series of five-minutes videos. 

The idea of having it shown on a wall outdoors is to ensure it is accessible to all people in the community during the pandemic.

“It’s very organic and is art gallery style, and people can come and go so it’s very casual,” she said, adding that the event is free.

“People can expect to see different kinds of films. Some will be of a more graphic design, projected on a wall, or some are more realistic with a dancer in a desert and the movie is choreographed and beautiful. Sometimes it’s going to be (a) film more with visual effects and lighting and graphic design. So people will get a blend of more abstract film and more reality.”

Coderre said Heslep had already been doing the screening of mapping art on a smaller scale and both were excited about doing it in the North. They finally were able to proceed with the project after securing enough money to travel and to rent large film projectors from Ontario. 

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New Inuit art centre Qaumajug at Winnipeg Art Gallery is all set to open doors for public – The Globe and Mail

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Qaumajuq is the first of its kind in the world – a unique sharing space where Inuit voices are front and centre.

Lindsay Reid/Winnipeg Art Gallery

In a prairie city, 2,000 kilometres from Iqaluit, Canada is building a monument to Inuit culture: Qaumajug, the new Inuit art centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, opens to the public March 27. It will house the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world, with examples from all four regions of the Nunangat – the Inuit homeland in Canada – as well as work from other circumpolar territories; the planning has involved Inuit curators, artists and elders from the start. And yet Qaumajuq sits on the Métis homeland and traditional territories of the Cree, Dene and Dakota, a place of tall grasses and big rivers far distant from the blue ice and sharp peaks of the Nunangat.

Why Winnipeg?

“We get that question a lot,” WAG director Stephen Borys says.

Story continues below advertisement

Truth is, Winnipeg has always been a cultural crossroads. With a colonial history as a fort, a Hudson Bay depot and a medical centre, it is the place where East meets West and the South goes North. In the 1950s, it was already a city where a Viennese art historian could start the WAG collection by buying Inuit carvings at the Bay. Today, it’s the place where the first Inuk with a PhD in art history can help launch a unique collaboration between the gallery, the government of Nunavut, the First Nations of Manitoba and the people of the North.

“Museums came out of a history of the Western [way of] knowing, documenting, classifying and colonializing: Museums were places to hold knowledge of other cultures,” said curator Heather Igloliorte, the Labrador Inuk and Concordia University art historian who advised the WAG. “It’s a lot of work to unpack how institutions function in the present. I am very proud of the work we are doing and grateful to everyone at the WAG. … We are really going somewhere.”

South-facing view of Visible Vault at Qaumajuq, designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture and associate Cibinel Architecture.

Lindsay Reid/Winnipeg Art Gallery

One of the reasons this is happening at the WAG is because the institution has a long commitment to collecting Inuit art created after 1949. It began buying seriously in the 1950s long before other Canadian public galleries, which tended to view the carvings and prints as ethnographic material best left to what was then called the Museum of Man in Ottawa. This origin story is a funny one: Ferdinand Eckhardt, the Austrian lured to Winnipeg to lead WAG in 1953, first saw Inuit sculpture in the gift shop at the Bay, located just across the street from the gallery. Why, he wondered, wasn’t his institution collecting this unique Northern art form?

The collection grew rapidly, regularly enhanced by donations from local collectors encouraged by Eckhardt’s interest, but also including several pieces he actually purchased from the Bay. By 2008, when Borys arrived on the scene, the WAG had amassed more than 13,000 works, both sculptures and prints, including many of the most recognized Cape Dorset images such as Kenojuak Ashevak’s The Enchanted Owl. (Only the archive of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative of Cape Dorset has more items, while the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa has a larger collection of archeological material.) Meanwhile, the WAG has continued to acquire the increasingly non-traditional and unconventional work produced by contemporary Inuit artists.

Jesse Tungilik’s sealskin and beads spacesuit (2019), a collection of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) Indigenous Art Centre.

Jessica Kotierk/Winnipeg Art Gallery

With that scale of collection, overseen by curator Darlene Coward Wight, the WAG became an obvious partner for Nunavut after the establishment of the new territory in 1999. The Nunavut archives hold a collection of more than 7,000 works, all kept in storage awaiting the day when the territory can finally build an art centre of its own. In the meantime, it has lent the material to Winnipeg, where many pieces will go on public display for the very first time and will also be digitized for remote access.

Physically, many of the sculptures will be housed in the three-storey-high open vault that is the centrepiece of Qaumajuq and the new building designed by Los Angeles architect Michael Maltzan. It’s a tower of glass shelving that brings 4,500 carvings into the light, profiting from stone’s immunity to UV damage. It can be seen from the street through the glass façade that makes up the lower half of the building; the curving upper portion, clad in white granite, echoes the shape of an iceberg, and the whole wing tucks up alongside the blunt end of the modernist triangle that is the original WAG building. At night, the vault will shine like a lantern and at any time of day it stands as a symbol of the new institution’s transparency. Qaumujuq means “it is bright,” or “it is lit,” in Inuktitut.

Before Maltzan came on board, the WAG had already established an Indigenous advisory circle co-chaired by Igloliorte, who grew up in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL: Her father’s family hails from Nunatsiavut, the Inuit territory in Labrador, while her mother is a white Newfoundlander. The advisory circle has stressed several areas in which the WAG could decolonize as it built Qaumajuq; the most obvious is the use of Inuktitut and First Nations names for all the galleries, chosen by a group of 14 elders and language keepers. The front lobby and vault are called Ilavut, meaning “our relatives,” recognizing both the artists and the artworks as spiritual predecessors.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s not just lip service but making Indigenous language part of the institution,” Igloliorte said, stressing that Inuktitut names, rather than generic English descriptors, were being used by gallery staff. “What’s unique about this advisory circle was it was formed before ground was broken. … The WAG was willing to give up some power and authority to Indigenous people.”

The circle also recommended there be an Indigenous member of the WAG executive – she is Julia Lafreniere, head of Indigenous initiatives, who is Métis – and more Indigenous participation in the education department. (The nearby Canadian Museum for Human Rights got in trouble last year after it was discovered that non-Indigenous docents were telling First Nations stories to visitors.)

Left to right: Nicole Luke and Jocelyn Piirainen. Physical visitors will also be able to tour Inua, the centre’s inaugural exhibition.

Calvin Lee Joseph/Winnipeg Art Gallery

Part of Lafreniere’s job is to figure out what Qaumajuq means to the Indigenous community on Treaty One, the 1871 agreement covering southern Manitoba, a territory that is home to five First Nations and the Métis.

“It’s really important that we are praying for the artwork and welcoming it to this territory; welcoming Inuit knowledge to this territory,” Lafreniere said, adding there were many similar traditions among Indigenous peoples but that Inuit geography was very different. She pointed to the figure of Sedna, the goddess of the sea who features in Inuit creation myths and visual art, as an example of a maritime culture quite foreign to First Nations in Manitoba. Blending the various cultures, Lafreniere has been organizing a series of opening ceremonies, some virtual, some outdoor, relying on Inuit and First Nations elders for appropriate prayers, songs and dances. Until the pandemic is clear, the only Inuit who can visit Qaumajuq are the few who live in Winnipeg already or who have come south for medical care, but the WAG is offering free admission to all Indigenous people on March 22.

“My favourite thing is to bring Inuit people into the building and see their faces light up,” she said.

Physical visitors will also be able to tour Inua, the centre’s inaugural exhibition. It’s another exercise in inclusion, organized by four curators from each region of the Nunangat. From east to west, Igloliorte comes from Nunatsiavut, Asinnajaq is an artist from Nunavik in Northern Quebec; Krista Ulujuk Zawadski is the curator of Inuit art for the government of Nunavut, and Kablusiak, an Inuk artist from the West now based in Calgary, was short-listed for the Sobey Award in 2019.

The show they have put together, featuring 100 works by artists from across the circumpolar region, includes some Inuit art from the 1960s and 1970s, but also some highly contemporary examples, including Jesse Tungilik’s sealskin spacesuit and two works by Eldred Allen, a Labrador photographer who stitches together multiple drone photos to create digitally altered landscapes.

“We want to surprise people and say how you are thinking about Inuit art is not the only way to think about Inuit art,” Igloliorte said.

The four have also included an ancestor display where each presents a work by a forbearer, recognizing the way Inuit art is often created by artistic dynasties. Igloliorte has included a caribou skin purse sewn by her grandmother, the seamstress Susannah Igloliorte.

Photo by Labrador photographer Eldred Allen, who stitches together multiple drone photos to create digitally altered landscapes.

Winnipeg Art Gallery

The bold contemporary works, many specially commissioned for the opening, will provide a powerful contrast to Ilavut, the open vault that features many of the stone carvings on loan from Nunavut.

How long will they stay there, thousands of kilometres away from home? The WAG has renewed a five-year loan agreement with Nunavut to 2025, but “I will be the first to send it back as soon as they want it,” Borys said. “It’s a wheel, and we are not the hub, but a spoke.”

Qaumajuq, the new Inuit art centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, opens to the public March 27 with a limited number of free timed tickets that day. The virtual opening celebrations take place March 25 and March 26 at 6:30p.m. CST, and can be viewed at wag.ca/opening.

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