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Kingston arts scene: Art and remembrance – The Kingston Whig-Standard

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With Remembrance Day just behind us, and not yet being in the throes of the festive season, it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on the relationship of Art and War (or Art and Conflict, or Cultural Property and Conflict, depending on how one wishes to frame the subject). Is there such a relationship, you might ask — indeed there is. And while art and conflict may seem like uneasy bedfellows, they have marched alongside one another for nearly as long as both have existed. Not always in step, and not always from the same point of view, but together nonetheless.

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Historically speaking, we start seeing large-scale conflict in the region of Mesopotamia sometime before 4000 BCE, due in large part to the establishment of city-states there. With city-states came the need to protect and defend them, and a parallel rise of persons of influence and power who did the ruling and defending of said city-states in conflict. One of the earliest examples of a representation of war is the so-called “Royal Standard of Ur” of Sumer from about 2600 BCE, which has on one side (the “war side”) narrative bands depicting charioteers and infantry soldiers in battle trampling and capturing opposing forces, stripping them of arms and armour. On the opposite side of the Standard (the “peace” side), there are similar narrative bands showing the collection of war booty by the victors, and a victory banquet in progress in the top register. Like this object, many of the earliest examples of representations of conflict show the ruler of the conquering people larger than life and glorify their prowess in battle.

The depiction of the collection of war booty, which often consisted of the movable material wealth and cultural property of a defeated people, is significant, because the accumulation of art as the spoils of war is just one other aspect of the conjunction of art and conflict. One clear illustration of the practice can be seen in the “Spoils of Jerusalem” panel of the Arch of Titus in Rome (circa 81 CE), in which Roman troops loot the Second Temple there, which they afterwards destroyed. (The Second Temple replaced, as you might guess, the First Temple (a.k.a. Solomon’s Temple), which the Babylonians had looted and destroyed in 586 BCE.) War booty was sometimes used to enrich the treasuries of a conquering people and was also often used to pay troops for their service in war. The practice was condoned for centuries but was also questioned on moral grounds as early as the Classical Greek period. Nonetheless, the seizure of art as war booty continued into modern times — and likely continues, despite international treaties and policies against the practice — to the enrichment of many of the world’s most prestigious galleries and museums. One has only to look to the Louvre in Paris (the foundation of its vast collections consisting of war booty collected by Napoleon’s troops in the late 18th and early 19th centuries) and the scrutiny of many of the world’s galleries with respect to Nazi War Art and its possible repatriation to get an idea of the scope of the activity.

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There are, fortunately, efforts being made to repatriate some portions of art looted from one culture and in the possession of another, but it can be a thorny endeavour for a variety of reasons. For example, how does one return artwork to a culture or entity that no longer exists? And is the cultural property perhaps better off remaining in an institution that can care for it properly? The act of repatriation may also be politically motivated — just as the act of the destruction of cultural property in times of conflict may be. Think of the destruction by the Taliban of the seventh-century Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001 — a means of demoralizing local cultures and causing outrage in the international community. The destruction of cultural property (often artwork, monuments or architecture) to oppress a people and erase cultural memory is a practice that goes back to ancient times, and is one that continues today.

Not that the association of art and war is all negative — indeed, conflict has been the catalyst for many new types of artistic expression and movements. In particular, many of the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century (such as expressionism, vorticism, cubism, etc.) were more effective at capturing and illustrating aspects of modern warfare than were more traditional and staid styles of representation. In fact, it has been suggested that it is truly only artists who can accurately relate what being at war is actually like — visually, emotionally, psychologically and physically — through the power of imagery that words cannot begin to match.  Canadian artist W. Thurston Topham’s impressionist painting “Moonrise over Mametz Wood” of 1916 has been described by veterans as an “eerily accurate impression of the Somme battlefield in 1916.” As well, starting in the First World War and continuing in the Second World War, many nations, including Canada, established Official War Art programs. Many of a country’s notable artists were sent overseas to record and represent the conflicts and were indelibly marked by the experience. It has been argued, for example, that the art of some members of Canada’s Group of Seven was influenced more by the blasted landscapes of war in Europe than by the austerity of Canada’s North, as has so often been stated. Canada continues to invite artists into theatres of conflict, with some moving imagery coming out of such collaborations as a result.

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While the subject of art and war may seem to be a gloomy one (and this essay has merely scratched the surface of the topic), many beautiful and even humorous objects have resulted from the association. Art produced as a result of war is a testament to the enduring human spirit and the act of creativity, which may help us to understand events and experiences of the past.

Kamille Parkinson earned a PhD in art history from Queen’s University and is presently a writer, burgeoning copywriter and art historian at large. You can find her writing at Word Painter Projects on Facebook and can contact her at wordpainterprojects@gmail.com.

The Vimy Memorial, designed by Walter Allward, in Vimy, France.
The Vimy Memorial, designed by Walter Allward, in Vimy, France. Photo by Kamille Parkinson /Supplied Photo

Art About Town

Gallery Raymond

Annual Open House — Works by Gallery Artists

Annual Harambee fundraiser (to Dec. 2)

Studio 22 Open Gallery

Autumn 2021 Artist Portfolio Series. Now open Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. and online.

• Victor Oriecuia, “Sacro Fiore”

• Bruno Capolongo, “Drips”

Window Art Gallery

• Nov. 16-30: Kingston Printmakers

Union Gallery

• Print Pulse (to Dec. 11)

• Coping and Care (to Dec. 11)

• Side-Ways (to Dec. 4, in conjunction with the Modern Fuel ARC)

• What Are You Reading? (to Dec. 11)

• Intimacies (to Nov. 27)

Modern Fuel ARC

• There are Minimums to Operate Properly (to Dec. 4)

• Turbo (to Dec. 4)

• Side-Ways (to Dec. 4, in conjunction with the Union Gallery)

Agnes Etherington Art Centre

• Studies in Solitude: The Art of Depicting Seclusion (to June 2022)

• Pandemical Lonliness (to March 2022)

• Humour Me

• Superradiance

• With Opened Mouths)

• Other Worlds

• Worrying the Mask

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Restoration of Michelangelo’s Pieta statue in Florence reveals flaws in marble

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The restoration of Michelangelo’s famed Pieta dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence has revealed that the single block of marble from which the masterpiece was sculpted was flawed, offering a likely reason for why it was abandoned before it was completed.

The statue, better known as the Bandini Pieta, represents the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene holding the body of Christ as he is taken down from the cross by a man, Nicodemus, whose face is the self-portrait of the Italian Renaissance artist.

“It’s a Pieta that has suffered and is very intimate… it is a really personal statue,” Beatrice Agostini, director of the restoration project, told Reuters.

The works of restoration confirmed that the 2,700 kg piece of marble had veins and numerous minute cracks, particularly on the base, which may have been the reason for Michelangelo’s decision to stop working on the sculpture before finishing it, a statement said.

The artist had initially planned to place the sculpture next to his tomb but only years after beginning to sculpt it, in the mid 1500s, a then 75-year old Michelangelo decided to abandon the masterpiece, giving it as a gift to a servant, who then sold it to a banker, Francesco Bandini.

Restorers did not find any sign of hammer blows, making it unlikely the widespread hypothesis that an unhappy Michelangelo tried to destroy the sculpture in a moment of frustration, the statement added.

The non-invasive restoration started in 2019 but was interrupted several times due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Deposits were removed from the sculpture’s surface, which was then cleaned, bringing it back to its original hue.

The project was commissioned and directed by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and was financed by U.S. non-profit organization Friends of Florence.

“The operation has restored to the world the beauty of one of Michelangelo’s most intense and troubled masterpieces,” a joint statement said.

Visitors have been able to witness all stages of the process as the statue was always on display, in an open laboratory, on a platform, behind a glass screen.

 

(Reporting by Matteo Berlenga in Florence, writing by Giulia Segreti in Rome, editing by Angus MacSwan)

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Art Beat: Arts Council keeps its friends close – Coast Reporter

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Until Feb. 6, the Sunshine Coast Arts Council is exhibiting works by its members in a variety of mediums.

The annual “Friends of the Gallery” show is hosted in the Doris Crowston Gallery of the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre, at 5714 Medusa Street, in Sechelt.

Now in its 20th year, the “Friends” event began as a way to encourage emerging artists. Today, individual artists from the community are invited to submit one piece of work they completed in the previous year to be shown in the group exhibition.

Artworks are also available for purchase.

Youth Urged to Float Beachcombers-Inspired Creations

The Sunshine Coast Writers and Editors Society describes itself as “a magnet for creative souls on the Coast.” To mark this year’s golden jubilee of The Beachcombers, the iconic CBC Television program, the society is seeking to attract young creative souls through an art and writing contest.

Various types of submissions are welcome, including short stories, creative nonfiction, poetry, scripts, cover artwork and colouring for the planned anthology and exhibit.

Written entries must contain at least one reference to The Beachcombers, the Coast or the beach. Allusions to jet boat manoeuvres and amicable ribbing at the lunch counter of Molly’s Reach are likely assets as well.

Details are online on the Society’s website at scwes.ca. Submissions must be received by midnight on June 1.

Family Literacy Week: Tales on Trails

The Province of British Columbia has proclaimed Jan. 24 to 31 as Family Literacy Week, marking the fifth successive year that Family Literacy Day (Jan. 27) has overflowed with a sevenfold increase in bookish intensity.

“Children’s literacy skills expand and grow much faster when families read, play and learn together,” said Jennifer Whiteside, B.C.’s Minister of Education. “Family Literacy Week is a great opportunity to focus on dynamic ways to support our youngest learners so they can develop the skills they need to succeed in their school years and beyond.”

Decoda Literacy Solutions, a province-wide literacy organization, is hosting a photo contest. Participants may take a photo using a “Let’s Be Active” theme and submit it by email to contest@decoda.ca or post it on social media using these hashtags: #LetsBeActive and #FLW2022. There will be a class prize and a prize for individuals.

To mark the occasion, the Gibsons and District Public Library has encouraged families to host “reading walks” in which families and individuals stroll through local parks, reading along to stories.

The Coast Reporter encourages all such literary ramblers to glance up from time to time, in order to avoid mid-chapter collisions incurred while covering one’s tracks.

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Library Line: Parrott Art Gallery open to viewers online – Belleville Intelligencer

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By Wendy Rayson-Kerr

Although the Parrott Gallery is closed until at least January 26 due to public health restrictions, we are still working to bring you art.  We hope that our awesome gallery supporters will sign onto our website to view new virtual exhibitions, participate in online art workshops and register for free Armchair Traveller presentations on Zoom. We’ll also be increasing our social media posts, so please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to view artwork from our current exhibitions as well as from our permanent collection, because everyone could use a little more art in their life right now!

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Coming next: The Bay of Quinte Modern Quilt Guild is presenting an exhibition called, “Outside the Block” which will be available to view online through our website starting on Saturday, January 22. The traditional Log Cabin Quilt design, generally speaking, starts with a center shape which is surrounded by strips of coloured pieces that follow a specific sequence of light and dark patterning. Colours have meanings in these quilts, whose shapes can be seen to symbolize log cabins with both dark and sunny corners, and much has been written about their connection to North American pioneers. In our upcoming exhibition, this traditional pattern has been given a modern interpretation. The twenty quilters represented in this group show have all used the Log Cabin Quilt pattern as their inspiration, resulting with an assortment of unique designs. Each artwork is as original as the artists themselves, and we certainly hope you will log in to view them on our website (for now) as well as get the chance to view them in our gallery in the near future.

Another exhibition that will soon be available to view online is called “Corona and Friends” by George Kratz. This prolific Stirling artist has assembled a large collection of paintings that he has been working on over the past two decades. He describes his Corona series as, “an abstract journey” which he completed during the pandemic. The earlier work in his Friends series is equally intense, full of symbolism both borrowed and unique to the artist. George Kratz is a story-teller and this exhibition tells the story of vivid colour, strong lines and imagery you will not soon forget.

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Both of these online shows will be available to view in person when we are allowed to re-open our doors once again.

We continue to offer Online Acrylic Pouring Workshops at the Parrott Gallery. These monthly projects are meant for beginners and skilled artists alike, and are the perfect way to learn knew creative skills. Prepared and presented by Warkworth artist Sheila Wright, these workshops are fun and easy to complete. Each kit costs thirty dollars and contains all you will need to create a unique artwork, including materials and video instructions. The January project is a painting called “Rainbow Swipe” and the deadline to register is Saturday, January 22. Please email us at gallery@bellevillelibrary.ca or call us as 613-968-6731 x 2040 if you are interested or would like more information.

On February 19, Photographer Lydia Dotto will be sharing her online Armchair Traveller presentation on the Antarctic. From the comfort of your own home you can take a journey across the globe, for free! “The Antarctic: Abundance of Life” is your chance to view a place that most of us will never have the chance to visit. You can register for this live Zoom presentation through our website. When we re-open our doors, our Corridor Gallery will feature the photography of Susan and Clint Guy, in a show they have called “India: The Golden Triangle”.  Plans for an in-person presentation are also under way, so stay tuned for this next part of our Armchair Traveller Series.

We know 2022 is going to be an exciting year of exhibitions and programs here at the Parrott Gallery, so we won’t let the current closures discourage us. We hope that we will be open for in-person viewing again soon.

Wendy Rayson-Kerr is the Acting Curator of the John M. Parrott Art Gallery

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