In 2012, overwhelmed by grief, Hamilton-based painter Sandra Meigs produced a series of four large-scale paintings that translated her emotional state following the death of her husband into an imagery of subterranean architecture. One of the inspirations for the work was her sister’s basement in New Freedom, Pennsylvania. She found in the claustrophic, disused space, in the arrangements of half-forgotten things, a scene she linked to her emotional state and to the processes of stasis and change that preoccupied her. She described the experience:
“To get into the basement there’s a small door and rickety stairs, the ceiling there is quite low, and incandescent lights hang down just by their wires, from the ceiling. I found the basement so beautiful, especially when it was lit that way…there’s random stuff piled on other stuff, with narrow walkways through. It’s kind of like being in a museum…[but deposited] through normal accumulation over 40 years.”
The approximately 500 photographs Meigs took in New Freedom became source material for a series of modestly scaled paintings, The Basement Piles, and a catalyst for the more monumental The Basement Panoramas, which are each based on real basements whose locations are named in their titles.
This survey draws upon more than half a century of collecting to showcase the rich and diverse work of over 40 female artists highlighting mentors such as Elaine Harrison, Erica Rutherford and Hilda Woolnough.
This exhibition will revisit an important 1978 exhibition, Document of our Times, and the work of photographers, Lawrence McLagan, Lionel Stevenson and Jake Werner, hired to document contemporary life on Prince Edward Island. A selection of these images, along with the work of other documentary photographers active in PEI in the 1970s, such as George Zimbel, Richard Furlong, and Wayne Barrett, will revisit a moment when preserving evidence of the culture and landscape of the Island seemed particularly urgent in light of their rapid transformation.
VampSites is an exhibition as temporary occupation. Combining making and showing, employing a surreal personal lexicon and mythology of colours and textures, motifs and narratives, Mitchell Wiebe imports the chaos and theatre of his studio into the well-lit, rational architecture of the art museum. And he adopts a distinctive persona who emerges from the same fictive world inhabited by his array of fantastical animalesque characters. Wiebe openly embraces an artificial and attention-grabbing mode of address; he loves the cheap attraction of the fun house, the appeal to regressive fantasy, exuberance with a touch of poison. Optical effects coincide with pop culture references, spatial illusion reverberating with the visceral swoop and swish of paint; Wiebe plays with the procedures and boundaries of painting, with the ebb and flow of its credibility. To vamp is to build a rhythmic ground for improvisation; it also means to seduce in the night, to draw us into an alternate life.