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NGV Triennial will see Boston Dynamics robot dogs set up studio in the National Gallery of Victoria over summer



A trio of finger-painting robotic dogs will share star billing with conceptual artist Yoko Ono, iconic fashion house Schiaparelli and British art heavyweight Tracey Emin in the third iteration of NGV Triennial, the National Gallery of Victoria’s behemoth exhibition of contemporary international art and design, opening in December.

Featuring more than 100 artists, and free to the public, the exhibition will take over the entire NGV International building — including the facade, which will feature a large text-based work by Ono, in the form of a question for Melburnians.

Inside the gallery, three robo-dogs — designed by Boston Dynamics for industrial applications such as data collection — will take up residence in a purpose-built art studio, where they will paint every day for the duration of the Triennial.

The instigator of the project, US-based Polish artist Agnieszka Pilat, says robots aren’t coming for our art just yet. While the dogs use AI to operate within their surroundings, their creative capacity is limited: “I’m very directly telling the robot what to do and how to operate.


“There’s a lot of anxiety about AI and robotics, and I want to show that actually in human years, these robots are young children, and they’re silly,” Pilat says, likening the dogs’ work to a child’s finger painting.

“I think it’s artists’ responsibility [to engage with new technology], and we have the ability to play on a much smaller scale before something becomes global.”

Agnieszka Pilat credits her upbringing in Cold War-era Poland for her embrace of colour and technology in her art.()

Pilat’s project is perhaps the perfect headliner for NGV Triennial: a marriage of art and design that grapples with the tech future.

It’s one of 25 world premiere projects commissioned specially for the exhibition, sitting within a larger program of new and recent works, subdivided into three loose themes: Magic, Matter and Memory.

The line-up of artists, spanning more than 30 countries, is eclectic: Big names such as UK satirist David Shrigley sit alongside emerging artists; British art world heavyweights Tracey Emin and Yinka Shonibare rub shoulders with drag luminary Raja Gemini (of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame) and instafamous creators such as Australian performer Smac McCreanor; textile artists and painters mix it up with animators and product designers.

David Shrigley’s monumental 2016 sculpture Really Good (pictured) will feature in the Triennial.()

“That false distinction between art, craft and design is something that we want to challenge throughout the Triennial,” says Myles Russell-Cook, NGV’s senior curator of Australian and First Nations art.

Russell-Cook is one of a team of 20 NGV curators who have collaborated on this edition, working across departments and specialisations.

“It’s a real all hands on deck [situation] — any idea is a good idea … And I think the result is, you get really exciting innovations that you wouldn’t get otherwise,” he says.

Russell-Cook has led one of the major new commissions: a 100-metre long woven “fish fence” made by women artists from Maningrida, Arnhem Land.

Australian artists include a collective of women from Maningrida (pictured, with a section of their “fish fence”) and Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara artist Betty Muffler.()

Inspired by fish traps common to the area, Mun-dirra will be presented in a maze-like formation, through which audiences can walk.

“It’s a beautiful celebration of women’s practice and the matrilineal knowledge transfer that takes place in western Arnhem Land, through weaving: the passing down of stories; the passing down of techniques; the passing down of the magical recipes that go into creating the beautiful dyes,” says Russell-Cook.

Textiles are the stars of this Triennial: Another major new commission is a 40-metre-long tapestry by Mexican product designer Fernando Laposse, who works with Indigenous artisans and materials such as sisal and corn leaves.

Modelled on the narrative-led Bayeux Tapestry, Laposse’s work will tell the story of avocado production in Mexico: a battle between crime cartels and local militia led by women.

“There’s quite a lot [of works] in the show around plants, trees, and the more-than-human world view,” says Ewan McEoin, NGV’s senior curator of contemporary art, design and architecture.

Other textile highlights include a colourful installation of massive fabric boulders by Paris-based senior US artist Sheila Hicks, and an allegorical woven work by mid-career US artist Diedrick Brackens.

For the Triennial, NGV’s historical galleries will host contemporary works — including this installation by Sheila Hicks.()

McEoin says this year’s Triennial is more “tactile” and focused on “material cultures” (as opposed to digital works) compared to previous editions, reflecting a general shift in artists and audiences in the wake of COVID.

“[There has been] a reappraisal of what was important or fundamental, and the return to things that are very tangible and physical was a consequence of that — a sort of refocusing on things that might be seen as being more traditional,” he explains.

“Maybe it’s [part of a] yearning for a simpler time [and] a slowing down — we all slowed down. But also, I do think there was a very strong sense of our relationship to nature as a human species [as a result of the pandemic].”

NGV Triennial will open December 3 at NGV International, Melbourne.


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Art therapy space gutted in 'terrible' Montreal heritage building fire – Montreal Gazette



Les Impatients, which uses art to help people with mental health problems, lost its downtown workshop space, offices and gallery.


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A fire that swept through a 19th-century former monastery in downtown Montreal last week gutted the fourth-floor space of Les Impatients and has left participants in shock.

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The blaze broke out late Thursday afternoon at the Monastére du Bon-Pasteur building and quickly became a five-alarm fire requiring the intervention of 150 firefighters. It took until Saturday to bring the fire under control.

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The mission of Les Impatients, established in 1992, is to help people with mental health problems through the vehicle of artistic expression. The Monastère du Bon-Pasteur building, a multi-purpose building on Sherbrooke St. E., had been home to Les Impatients since 1999.

“A lot of people are in shock,” Frédéric Palardy said of participants. “It’s almost like a home for them. Some come twice a week.”

They participate in art workshops and, as well, some are in music and dance workshops and a choir — all organized by Les Impatients.

“The main thing is that everyone is safe and no one was hurt,” Palardy said. “My thoughts are for our neighbours.”

The multi-purpose building housed a seniors’ residence and a housing co-operative, Heritage Montreal, a daycare centre, condos and a chapel that served as a concert hall.

“I know a lot of people in the residence and the co-op,” he said.

But the fire “is terrible for us, too.”

Les Impatients was on the top floor and among the building’s most severely affected by the blaze, said Palardy. Although it is not yet known for sure, the fire is believed to have started in the roof.

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The space the organization occupied included its downtown workshop space, offices, gallery space and a boutique. Also lost in the fire were the organization’s archives, its musical instruments and about 10 per cent of its artworks.

With about 30,000 works, Les Impatients has what is believed to be North America’s largest collection of outsider art, Palardy said. The term describes art that has a naïve quality and was often produced by people without formal training as artists.

Les Impatients had insurance, but it was primarily for theft, Palardy said.

“We have to start from scratch,” he said, adding that the organization is working on an appeal.

Meanwhile, Palardy said the organization has received countless emails and messages of support, including a text Sunday from deputy health minister Lionel Carmant and messages from representatives of the City of Montreal’s culture department.

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“A part of the soul of Les Impatients has gone up in smoke,” the organization said in a communiqué. “The emotion and the sadness are vivid but the priority for the organization is to continue its mission, through this chaos, to serve its community well.”

Two women work on paintings at a long table
Jocelyne Potvin (left) and Johanne Marino work on new pieces at Les Impatients on Jan. 29, 2009. Photo by JOHN KENNEY /The Gazette

An interim location for Les Impatients administrative offices has been found, Palardy said Sunday, but the activities of the downtown section, which were held in the former monastery building, are suspended for now. That location normally serves about 130 people five days and three evenings every week through its workshops and the organization is already at work to find a new location, Palardy said.

The former monastery location is the largest and most well-established of Les Impatients’ 25 locations elsewhere in Montreal and across Quebec which, together, serve more than 900 people. The other locations will continue to function, he said.

The Parle-moi d’Amour event, the biggest fundraiser of the year for Les Impatients, is set for September. Sadly, Palardy said, some of the works that were to be included were lost in the fire.

  1. Firefighters battle a blaze at the former Monastère du Bon-Pasteur in Montreal on May 26, 2023.

    Firefighters stamp out blaze in former monastery 42 hours after it ignited

  2. Admirer takes in the artwork up for auction at the 17th annual Parle-moi d'Amour exhibition and auction being held at the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur on Shebrooke St. E. until March 18.

    Art and mind connect at ‘Parle-moi d’Amour’ auction

  3. Works by Les Impatients, a collective of artists who live with mental-health issues, are on display at the Wellington Centre in Verdun until May 3.

    Les Impatients’ exhibit shows the healing power of art


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Remembering a pioneer of local Indigenous art – Sault Ste. Marie News – SooToday



From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:

John Laford was a prominent Sault Ste. Marie artist, who was born in 1955 on an Indigenous reserve in the West Bay area of Manitoulin Island.

Leaving his home at the age of 15, he eventually made his way to Sault Ste. Marie by his early 20s.


He felt that he had been painting for as long as he could remember. He always enjoyed art, design and doodling after he finished school but with no formal training, he was largely self-taught.

Laford travelled throughout Europe, Canada and the United States, studying and learning from various artists along the way.

“I would only paint to get enough money to continue along the way,” he said.

By 1969, Laford began painting full-time. In 1977, at the age of 22, he had his work exhibited at the Centennial Room at the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library. He used his work to show his Ojibway legends and spiritual beliefs. His spiritual beliefs and Ojibway legends were central not just to his artistic career but to his personal life as well.

Laford went on to be a vocal critic of the Children’s Aid Society (CAS).

As a child, he played with a young boy who lived next to him. In a 1978 Sault Star article he explained, it was not until he was 12 that he realized that the boy was his older brother.

When he was one year old, his father died. His mother took his four sisters and two brothers and moved back to her reserve. She did not receive any financial assistance to care for her children and CAS took over.

“CAS saw my mother had too many kids and just took them away,” Laford said. “To me, it seemed they just wanted to scatter the family. I wasn’t adopted into a native family and the Children’s Aid paid for my care but no one ever bothered to tell me about my real parents and brothers and sisters.”

The foster family cared for four of them for a while which he described as very strict but fairly good people which he says helped him.

At the age of 15, he ran away from home with his older brother and travelled to Toronto in an attempt to find their mother.

“I quit school. Things weren’t too good on the reserve. I was drinking a lot,” he said.

When they arrived in Toronto it took them a week to find their mother. He spent three years with her getting to know her and the rest of his family.

“What I’m saying is my opinion, just my own ideas about the things I went through with Children’s Aid. I would have liked to have grown up with my mother, stayed with my real mother, but it didn’t happen that way. You could look at it (CAS) as destroying Indian families but they’re trying to do something good,” he said near the end of the Sault Star article.

Laford and two other Indigenous artists Cecil Youngfox and Peter Migwans formed a group called “Artists of the Northern Sun.” They hoped it would “form the nucleus of the Indian community in Sault Ste. Marie.” 

The three artists created the group around 1977 when Laford moved to Sault Ste. Marie. They planned on organizing events that would bring Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Canadians together. The three wanted to create a higher profile and take on a leadership role in the community.

By 1980 Laford had become a well-established artist in his own right whose work was included in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. His work had been exhibited in Hamilton, Toronto, and Montreal and in 1980 his work was part of the Manitoulin Island artist’s show at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). In 1990 his work was once again featured in Sault Ste. Marie at the Art Gallery of Algoma.

Laford passed away in 2021 at the age of 67. He left a lasting mark and legacy in the

Indigenous community. He used his spirituality and culture’s legends to create works of art that are enjoyed and viewed by Canadians and the world alike.

Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provide SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Public Library has to offer at and look for more “Remember This?” columns here.

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Indigenous art market comes to downtown Kitchener – CTV News Kitchener



A celebration of Indigenous culture is in downtown Kitchener for the weekend.

The “I Am Kitchener: Indigenous Art Market” has taken over the Gaukel block, with everything from clothes, to art, to beadwork.

The two-day event is a showcase for artists across Southwestern Ontario, but also a welcoming to the wider community.


“I think it’s really important for folks in the region to really come out and support events like this,” said co-organizers Maddie Resmer. “It’s a huge step forwards. What it means to connect with Indigenous community members in the region, in Kitchener, and for folks in the area to get to know some of the Indigenous artists that live here and are close to these territories, that’s how we celebrate ourselves, right?

“We highlight the positive and brilliant people who come from our culture.”

The Indigenous art market wraps up Sunday.

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