Message from Carolyn
This year, we launch our five-year strategic plan, Enhanced Engagement. New initiatives are being shaped to foster greater physical and intellectual access to the Gallery, to our Collection and to the artworks on view; to support a curatorial direction embracing a “reading through place”; and to build new partnerships to extend our programming in the community.
Our artistic vision derives from our position as a regional public art gallery. Our exhibition and collection programmes will continue to explore the nature of regional identities and issues of place as well as the layered histories of our own region. For example, the role language plays in contemporary culture is a recurring exhibition theme, underscoring our building’s history as Barrie’s first public library. Projects programmed this year with our annual Carnegie Days festival of art and language include Derek Sullivan’s deconstructed books, Lucille Oille’s illustrations for The Owl Pen from our Collection and What is here has echoed, a group exhibition exploring the ways in which language is mediated through transmission.
In the winter months, investigations around “reading through place” highlight issues of territory, identity, memory, language and exchange within a postcolonial discourse. Northern Convergences is an ambitious group project that invites artists with research-based practices investigating notions of the North to work with our Sovfoto Archive, re-reading it as a colonial rather than as a Cold War archive, and responding to the resonance between Canadian and Soviet incursions into the Arctic at midcentury and beyond. The solo show of recent landscape paintings by Bewabon Shilling, Rama Mnjikaning First Nation, produced in the studio built by his late father Arthur Shilling, furthers discussions around the landscape, offering a personal counterpoint to the political. Through these exhibitions, we draw attention to the more marginalized narratives residing outside of our official regional and national histories.
As we move forward with an exploration of “critical regionalism”, we hope our programming not only reflects our changing regional identities but participates in encouraging cultural production that shapes new meanings and definitions of identity.
Carolyn Bell Farrell