Margaret Priest: The Construction Series: The Monument to Construction Workers

Margaret Priest, "Workers Monument Suite – No. 5 Terrazo", 1994, etching on paper, P.P. ed. of 7, 49.5 x 49.5 cm. Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Gift of Stu Oxley, 2000. Photo: Andre Beneteau
December 7, 2017 - March 11, 2018

Margaret Priest
The Construction Series: The Monument to Construction Workers
December 7, 2017 to March 11, 2018
Joan Lehman Gallery and online
Curator: Renée van der Avoird
Reception: Thursday, December 7, 7 to 9 pm

Margaret Priest’s The Construction Series: The Monument to Construction Workers is a suite of twenty-seven etchings that honour the courage and perseverance of tradespeople, whose work, although essential in city building, usually goes unnoticed. Eight of the prints are on view in the Joan Lehman Gallery; the remaining nineteen are featured online.

The suite explores the veiled textures, shapes and patterns of urban building methods and materials. It complements Priest’s Monument to Construction Workers (1994), a distinctive public artwork in Toronto’s financial district. For the monument, Priest collaborated with twenty-seven Ontario trade unions, each fabricating a panel representative of their materials and technical expertise. For example, Copper Shingles, (bottom far right) evokes the repetitive gesture of roofing—a trade that requires precision and endurance—as well Priest’s fastidious skill as a draughtswoman. Her hand-drawn designs served as blueprints for the panels during the fabrication process, and were the direct inspiration for the etchings you see here.

Margaret Priest was born and raised in London, England. She completed a MFA at the Royal College of Art. Her practice is largely influenced by conceptualism with a specific interest in architectural forms and spaces. In her drawings, sculptures and prints, Priest explores the spatial and material qualities of modernity with an aim of articulating the urban and suburban structures that surround us. In 1976, she moved to Toronto and has resided there since. She is a Professor Emerita at the School of Fine Art and Music, University of Guelph, and has also taught at the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo. Priest is represented in Toronto by Georgia Scherman Projects.