People touring the Mann Art gallery this weekend will have noticed a common theme about some of the pieces, they were being painted over, pulled apart or cut up with a chain saw.
While public tours of the vault – a place where art works are carefully preserved, stored and catalogued – were available inside the building, on the outside Metis artists were busy destroying the creations they had made, deciding which paper bison they should keep and which should be consigned to a sacred fire.
It was all part of the focal weekend of Culture Days from the galleries perspective.
“This is kind of our big weekend day at the Mann Art Gallery,” said Lana Wilson, gallery educator on Saturday, Oct. 9. “This is the last day to see the Leah Dorian and Ashley Smith outdoor art installations,” said Wilson.
Dorian has taken on the role of mentor to Smith and 2021 marked the second year of the Inter-Generational Metis Artist Mentorship Project, a project she started with a different mentee, Danielle Castle.
“The goal of this is for Leah to be able to pass on different aspects of Metis culture,” explained Wilson.
While both mentees brought their own perspectives to the project, Dorian as teacher was passing on skills such as designing and planning a project.
“It involves Metis materials, skills, teachings and world views. They learned how to plan the project and do art installations,” Wilson said, “and, in these cases, using quite humble but accessible materials.”
An exhibit outside the door of the gallery showed colourfully painted cardboard bison being chased by cardboard horses over the cliff – in this case, a two inch high curb.
Another next to the provincial court house involved a willow woven meditation walkway decorated with orange ribbon tied on it and is dedicated to the survivors of residential schools.
“We think that a cross symbol – even a symbol that was widely embraced in the fur trade era by many cultures – placed beside a courthouse, we feel that’s a good site for a reconciliation piece,” explained Wilson. “So many people have interacted with it in a wonderful way.”
Inside the gallery, children or adults could pick a canvas painted by an artist who used to live in Prince Albert and choose to either keep it as is, add to it or paint right over it.
The idea was to educate people on what artists do with their finished pieces. Some sell it, some donate it or sell it to gallery collections. Others are prolific and just want their work out in the world.
The artist lives in a city for a few years, paints something every day and then divests it before moving to another city.
The artist suggested having other’s paint over his pieces.
“We can think of it as a collaboration,” Wilson said. “If they want, they can completely paint totally over his art and make it their own.” This is a technique used when an artist wants to add texture to their work.
Upcoming in this week for Culture Days activities in Prince Albert are a South Asian cooking class on Tuesday, Oct. 12 and a chance to try pottery on Thursday.
More details can be found a culturedays.ca and by going to Saskatchewan in the Regions pulldown menu.
Moose Jaw Art Guild meets to discuss its upcoming MJMAG exhibition – moosejawtoday.com
The Moose Jaw Art Guild is excited for their 54th Christmas exhibition at the Museum & Art Gallery
Led by President Karen Walpole, ten members of Moose Jaw’s Art Guild gathered for only the second time in 18 months to discuss their upcoming exhibition. The forms necessary for submission were distributed, and everyone chatted about how their works were progressing.
The theme for this year is “Looking Out My Window,” to be interpreted by the artist. A variety of mediums are encouraged, including drawings, pastels, watercolours, and sculptures.
Many of the works displayed in MJMAG’s lobby will be for sale. The exhibition will open on Nov. 12th, and continue until Jan. 9th of next year.
Karen Walpole noted that she is “always excited” to share some of the Art Guild’s venerable history, particularly in regards to its role in the founding of MJMAG. She says that, “Back in 1963, the City of Moose Jaw asked what was then the Moose Jaw Fine Arts Guild to comment on their plan to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday.”
The Guild took that chance to strongly endorse and lobby for a “Cultural Centre” in Crescent Park near the Public Library. The Moose Jaw Art Museum opened in 1967, and the Art Guild has had an annual exhibition there ever since.
Jennifer McRorie, MJMAG’s current curator and director, confirms that the Art Guild was “instrumental in getting the art museum established.” She adds that, “In 2017 we celebrated our 50th anniversary, and so we actually presented an exhibition from our permanent collection that was the result of 50 years of collecting the work of Moose Jaw artists.”
The Guild itself was established on a cold February night in 1929, after a presentation by influential Saskatchewan artists Vaughan Grayson and Barbara Barber. That night, the Women’s Art Association of Saskatchewan was voted into existence. In 1957 it became the Moose Jaw Fine Art Guild, and in 1984 it achieved its current form as the Moose Jaw Art Guild.
This year’s exhibition comes on the heels, obviously, of the enormous disruption of the global pandemic. Nevertheless, the Guild endures, and is always open to new members. Walpole sincerely emphasizes that one purpose of their showings is to, “provide encouragement and an introduction to many of us that want to try our artistic hands, but don’t know where to start.”
Art is about expression, moving beyond the limitations of language to convey emotion in a subjective, yet direct way. Although it is not possible to control exactly how one’s art is perceived, this should not be a barrier. The main thing, Walpole says, is “to have the confidence to at least attempt an art form of some kind.”
More information about the Art Guild, its meetings, and how to join can be found on their Facebook page.
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A rare opportunity saw Andrew Hawley join the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) as a casual art handler after graduating from his BFA in Drawing at RMIT in 2003.
Eighteen years later, he is now the Collection and Exhibition Preparator at Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona), known for their eccentric and challenging exhibitions, and undoubtedly, one of the most exciting environments in which to work in art installations, storage, and exhibition preparations.
He also holds a Masters in Cultural Materials Conservation from the University of Melbourne, and has worked across ACMI, the Victorian Arts Centre, ExhibitOne, POD Museum and Art services, and the Melbourne Immigration Museum.
From Ron Meuck’s 10 metre infant sculpture to Ai Weiwei’s White House (2015) in Mona’s Siloam, Hawley and his colleagues are the answer to your question: ‘But how did they manage to get it there?’
Here, Hawley shares the excitement of working on high-profile exhibitions and discusses the skills you would need to pursue this challenging but rewarding profession.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO?
In a nutshell; I prepare artwork and other culturally significant material for storage, exhibition and loan, and assist with exhibition/display installation. My role is quite varied but I spend most of my time at our off-site collection store where I design, construct and fit out custom packing units for artworks. These vary from timber crates and travel frames to archival board boxes, archival tubes for rolled works and the occasional solander box. I also ensure artwork is clean and display ready.
I organise and maintain the off-site collection storage area which involves a lot of 3D Tetris. I work closely with colleagues including registrars, a conservator, a mount maker and several other very highly skilled art handler/technicians as well as a wider team of kinetic artwork and time based media technicians.
I assist with exhibition installation/deinstallation and collection changeover at the museum and some external locations during festivals.
I’m also a qualified paper conservator so I undertake some conservation assessments and treatments when required.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN YOUR CAREER?
I finished a fine art degree in 2003 and was looking for something outside the hospitality industry and inside the museum/gallery industry. Luckily, a regular customer at one of the venues I worked in (as a chef/cook), let word slip that the National Gallery of Victoria were hiring casual art handlers to prepare to move into the refurbished premises at St Kilda Road. I got the boss’ details, wrote an application letter, attended a job interview and somehow was successful, despite no prior experience.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THE MOST IN YOUR JOB?
Unique challenges and a reliance on lateral thinking for solutions – something I experience almost every day. I also have great colleagues with whom I liaise about all aspects of the job. We learn from each others’ creative perspectives.
I love the excitement of a large or high profile exhibition, including engagement with external or international artists and curators, trying to help realise a vision that may or may not be clear in everybody’s mind. I equally love the calm and solitude of a collection store and the fact that I work so closely with museum objects on a daily basis. If I have a bad day, looking at an ancient Egyptian mummified cat or some 2,000 year old bronze knife coins is very soothing.
IN AN INTERVIEW FOR YOUR JOB, WHAT SKILLS AND QUALITIES WOULD YOU LOOK FOR?
Similar institutional experience in a similar capacity (eg. art handling, art packing) would be a must. It takes many years to attune yourself to the level of care required around culturally significant objects and irreplaceable artworks.
Other qualifiers would include:
- A strong work ethic
- An ability to handle multiple projects with strict deadlines
- The ability to delegate fun jobs
- The ability to undertake monotonous or tedious jobs
- Strong, clear communication
- Physically fit and able
The ability to look outside oneself and one’s own experience for solutions. It’s a bit of a ‘jack of all trades’ kind of position and a good Jack should know when they need to call on a master of something.
Someone who prefers order and neatness in their professional life. I’m in no way the neatest person in my private life but organising a storage area that keeps artwork safe and secure requires a high degree of attention to detail.
WHAT IS ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE INSTALLATION EXPERIENCES/PROJECTS THAT YOU’VE WORKED ON?
There’s been a lot over the years – I’ve done everything from helping carry and install a 10 metre silicon sculpture of an infant (Ron Mueck) to hanging iconic works from Picasso, Munch or Tom Roberts. From installing 100 tiny neolithic arrow/spear heads in one showcase to helping build a large, imperial Chinese house framework on glass balls (Ai Weiwei), and from installing famous AFL players’ jerseys in a sports museum (MCG/Australian Sports Museum) to hanging stills from Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey (ACMI).
It’s hard to pick one moment from one project. In recent times, it’s probably been the preparatory work and final install of big MONA shows like On the Origins of Art, The Museum of Everything and our recent Monanisms 2021 collection based exhibition.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING HAPPENING IN YOUR SECTOR AT THE MOMENT?
We’re still operating and I still enjoy my job.
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