Sunday, June 29, 2014


Yesterday's early start included the 8AM ferry to Schwartz Bay, with a 10:30AM arrival time at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, where there are at least three exhibitions on display: Indian Candy, featuring the work of Vancouver-based Dana Claxton, in the Lab; Girls: Historical Portraits from the Collection in the Drury Gallery; and Through the Looking-Glass: A Modern Story from the Collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in the Ker and Centennial Galleries.

The first two exhibitions are curated by AGGV curators Toby Lawrence and Michelle Jacques, respectively, while Through the Looking-Glass, an exercise in creative curation if ever there was one, is curated by The Apartment co-director Lee Plestad.

Not sure I have much to say about the rather spare Claxton exhibition, apart from a recognition of what the artist herself says (in a recent Winsor Gallery publication) regarding the exhibition space as one of the few spaces in which issues concerning aboriginal people can be expressed, discussed and debated.

As for Girls and Looking-Glass, Plestad's picture book narrative approach is enriched by Jacques deceptively simple casting call.

Below is is an image from Plestad's exhibition, a quadruple portrait by Michael Snow (with a Claude Tousignant peeking out from behind):

Below is an image from Jacques's exhibition, a single portrait by Victoria-based artist Richard Ciccimarra:

On the other side of town at Open Space is the recently-opened The Travelling Republic, featuring three artists: Gerri Lynn Mackey, Ingrid Mary Percy and Colette Urban. Although billed as a three-person exhibition, the show is bracketed by Urban, an influential artist and educator who passed away in June, 2012.

At the north end of the gallery is a lyric documentary on Urban by Katherine Knight; at the south end, a series of reproduced india ink and collage drawings the artist did near the end of her short life.

Among the art works and artifacts in-between include Grenfell Parkas from the collection of Percy.

Below is a picture I took of three of them (and below that, a text sent to me by Percy):

The origin of Grenfell Handicrafts dates back to the early 1900s when Sir Wilfred Grenfell, an English-born medical doctor and missionary, served among the fisherfolk of northern Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dr. Grenfell was impressed by the quality of clothing handcrafted by housewives in tiny communities along the rugged coast. He was equally impressed with their expertise in mat-hooking and embroidery.

He recommended that families use these skills as a means to supplement the meager incomes they earned from fishing.

To assist in making and marketing their handcrafted parkas, mitts and slippers, he established Grenfell Labrador Industries as a division of the Grenfell Mission. It quickly gained a reputation for excellent quality and workmanship. Grenfell Handicrafts - Gift Shop. The products are still made today!

Grenfell products have been sold around the world and have served as gifts to members of the Royal Family, leading heads of state and even Pope John Paul II.

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