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‘Past, Present, Pause’ art exhibition explores and celebrates 'notions of difference' – BradfordToday



be contemporary gallery’s latest exhibition, Past, Present, Pause is an exploration of “notions of difference” by five BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) artists.

It could as easily have been titled History, Essence, Vision,  or Heritage, Reclamation, Celebration: the exhibition, curated by Black Artist Collective member Sean George, is a thought-provoking look at objects, landscape and imagery through a BIPOC lens.

It’s about pushing boundaries, George says, and re-evaluating context within the framework of this digital age.

“I think what’s great about the internet is it can put things out of context, but can also bring things into context,” he says – providing a shared vocabulary of images that become defined by their context.

In his work, the Barrie artist challenges the viewer to reconsider meaning and context through the juxtaposition of images. His installation at be contemporary gallery is titled Strange Fruit – “kind of an homage” to the Billie Holiday song Strange Fruit, “the first protest song,” but also a new and personal interpretation.

George was inspired by the “chain of art” that generated Strange Fruit – the 1930 photograph of the lynching of two African-Americans, that led to the poem written by Jewish teacher and activist Abel Meeropol, that was turned into a song in 1937 and first performed by Holiday in 1939, and that contributed to her downfall.

“That song is about power and control and limitation, and the movements that rise up.” It inspired his “idea of a tree” created from power cords, both connected and disconnected, combined with an image taken from the Black Panther movement, and a colourful painting of children playing, mirrored by an equally colourful depiction of slaves picking cotton – a juxtaposition of innocence and subjugation.

Uncovering layers of meaning, the response is visceral; “That’s where the idea of Past, Present, Pause came from.”

In curating the exhibition, George has brought together works by artists who similarly revisit and interpret the past through the eyes of the present.

For Mauritian photographer Ryan Osman, it was important to revisit the iconic imagery of the far north, and challenge colonial traditions of art that portray the north as empty landscape, an “absence of presence.”

Osman sees the human element in the landscape as key – “the distinct yet diverse perspective of the life of northern Indigenous communities” within a landscape that is “majestic, and sometimes unforgiving” but always dynamic and beautiful.

Working on environmental and community projects in Northern Ontario, Quebec and Labrador, he says, “I usually try to document my travels (and) the unique relationship between indigenous populations and the land” – eliminating bias to present images of “what it looks like, how grand it is, how indigenous people have a symbiotic relationship with the land.”

For Dawn Cain, photography is a relatively new field of expression. The multi-media artist, writer, activist and film-maker saw the invitation to participate in the exhibition as an opportunity to “explore my heritage, culture and the contemporary issues that are front and centre for me individually, and my community collectively.”

With herself as model, she celebrates “the beauty of marginalized hair” in a series of three photographs that present images of tribalism, freedom, and escape from oppression.

As an Afro-Indigenous Canadian, “Tribal is very important to me… Even though we are so far ahead in history, we still need that guidance,” she says, offering a “modern take on what tribalism would look like now.”

Even more powerful is her stunning profile, Map to Freedom, evoking a sense of history with a visual reference to iconic beauty of Nefertiti, but with the tightly-braided hair that was a hidden language of slaves, mapping out routes to freedom.

“I was a line cook a year ago. I’ve always been a photographer at heart. I’ve always experimented with digital photography,” Cain says. It was the pandemic that provided freedom to explore, to “be so creative in our darkest hour.

“We have all the answers. We just have to work together.”

Indigenous artist Tim Laurin, who is Metis, and Nathalie Bertin, who describes herself as Metis, French and Algonquin, also build new vocabularies out of the imagery and traditions of the past.

Bertin’s works – a painting; Western-style handmade clothing featuring a traditional beaded medallion; a fur and beadwork “Moccushion” – are all expressions of her own Indigenous spirit, and part of a mission to “present a different view of Indigenous people – one that is positive, powerful, knowledgeable, gentle and kind,” but free of romanticism.

“The physical is not what matters. It’s the spirit essence that matters.”

Laurin describes art-making as “a search for belonging, and an assertion of my identity.”

His works are his version of visual archeology transforming glass, metal and found materials, including Dogwood sticks and a 1950s ceramic Indian head, into totemic and ceremonial objects.

“The objects we choose to keep have always fascinated me. What do these items suggest about our identity?” he asks, while creating a new, authentic and compelling narrative through the juxtaposition of materials.

Past, Present, Pause is not so much an ‘exploration’ as a celebration of difference.

Time, history and imagery are also central to The Age of Spin – Welcome to the Machine, Sean-William Dawson’s show in the smaller BHCV Project gallery.

“Our window to the world has now become a digital collage, where we question everything, even our own experiences,” Dawson says. His work combines the iconography of television, movies and pop culture with his own family history, and today’s social issues.

“I love pop culture. Ever since I was a kid, I was fascinated by the influences of TV shows on society. Now, with social media, tragedies are becoming parallel – we’re blurring the line between reality and entertainment.”

Downward, a series of four silk screens on vintage wallpaper in hand-made reclaimed wood frames, illustrates that theme: the decorative color scheme and color progression obscure the reality, that the images are comprised of superimposed photos of a screaming Janet Leigh from the iconic shower sequence in Psycho.

Dawson confesses to a fascination with pop culture villains and tragedies, into which he weaves his own personal story of family loss.  A number of works combine drawings based on family photos with pop images, using colours selected from a popular internet colour wheel to evoke emotion.

“Using pop culture in a different way. That’s how pop culture is, in our society – more and more layers.”

His work is all about layers, of meaning and recognition. “We’ve grown up cutting and pasting, and in a way, that’s what I do, too,” to the point of using song titles as the titles of his works. “I’m presenting the movie of my life through my art.”

Both Past, Present, Pause. and The Age of Spin are at be contemporary art gallery in Stroud, 7869 Yonge Street, until October 2.

The gallery is open to the public, following COVID protocols that include wearing face masks and maintaining physical distancing. No more than five visitors are allowed into the gallery at one time.

To book a visit, email or call 705-431-4044. The gallery is open Weds. to Sat., from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, click here.

There was no “Grand Opening” of the current exhibitions, but there will be a “Grand Closing” on Oct. 2, noon to 5 p.m., when the artists will be available to talk with the public about their work. Weather permitting, refreshments will be served outdoors on the patio. Watch for details.

Past, Present, Pause. and The Age of Spin were sponsored by Davidson’s Country Dining in Innisfil.

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Moose Jaw Art Guild meets to discuss its upcoming MJMAG exhibition –



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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Knitting for Guelph's Art Not Shame: 3 things to know about the organization and fundraiser –



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Knitting for Guelph’s Art Not Shame: 3 things to know about the organization and fundraiser

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So you want my arts job: Art Installer – ArtsHub



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.


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.

Read: So you want my arts job: Museum Program Producer


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.


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. 


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
  • Patience
  • 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.


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.


We’re still operating and I still enjoy my job.

Read: So you want my arts job: Theatre Technician

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