The cover of the current issue

Current Issue: FALL 2017

REBUILD

EMILY PITTMAN

BRENDAN FERNANDES

RAVEN DAVIS

From 2D to 3D: Mapping Halifax Over Time

From 2D to 3D: Mapping Halifax Over Time

The GISciences Centre has undertaken a project to create a digital platform that explores the geographic history of Halifax by recreating historic images in 2D and 3D. The images allow people to view streets, buildings, and other topographic features and the changes that have occurred in Halifax over time. While future additions of data and imagery will include early colonial maps of Halifax from the time of its founding in 1749, this exhibition presents depictions of Halifax from just before the Explosion to the present day.

Arthur Lismer and The Drama of a City

In addition to being an art educator and founding member of the Group of Seven, Arthur Lismer had also worked as a commercial illustrator and, while he lived in Halifax, produced illustrations for a number of publications, including The Drama of a City: The Story of Stricken Halifax by Stanley K. Smith. Published in early 1918, the book documents the aftermath of the Explosion and includes eleven original illustrations.

Courtesy of historian Alan Ruffman, one of the few extant copies of this book will be on display, together with copies of the magazine Canadian Courier which, in the first four months of 1918, printed Lismer’s ‘on-the-spot’ drawings related to the Explosion as Halifax began to rebuild. Because the original drawings for the book are not known to exist, the exhibition will include photographic reproductions of the illustrations to provide a closer look at what are some of the only artistic interpretations of this historic disaster.

Arthur Lismer and the Halifax Explosion

Arthur Lismer and the Halifax Explosion

Arthur Lismer and the Halifax Explosion

This exhibition highlights the work that Arthur Lismer, influential principal of the Victoria School of Art and Design (now NSCAD University), produced during his time in Halifax from 1916 to 1919. With the exception of the large oil painting Halifax Harbour—Time of War, from Dalhousie Art Gallery’s own permanent collection, the works presented are a selection of preparatory drawings and oil sketches that were made in situ as the artist explored the city and shorelines on foot. These were not made with the intention of public display—they are observational and documentary, and served an instrumental purpose in Lismer’s overall development of large studio paintings.

The legacy of this ambulatory field work is its contribution to our understanding of Halifax’s history, both civic and military, during World War One. Among the most significant of these works are his chronicles of the Halifax Explosion, few of which are known to still exist. Today, their significance lies not only as a record of a formative time in Nova Scotian history, but also in the insight they offer into the working mind and hand of one of Canada’s most renowned painters during the years that preceded the founding of the Group of Seven in 1920.

Negotiations

Negotiations

The Hydrostone neighbourhood, now nearly one hundred years old, is one of the most striking legacies of the Halifax Explosion. It stands as a powerful testament to the reconstruction efforts required to house the working-class families who were left homeless by the events of the Explosion. For many, however, the Hydrostone’s appeal lies in its unique ability to express the passage of time: in this neighbourhood, layers of the present co-exist with traces of the past. The original grey granite ‘hydrostone’ blocks live anachronistically side-by-side with a dizzying array of wood, composite, and vinyl siding materials. Extensions have been added, shutters have been removed, exterior walls have been painted, porches have been closed in, and trees, shrubs, and gardens have been cultivated.

Halifax artist Claire Hodge has systematically photographed all of the existing homes to create a portrait of the changing face of a landmark neighbourhood. Hodge notes, “The Hydrostone townhomes reveal a complex set of negotiations realized tacitly or explicitly by the people who have lived there. Some blocks of houses are united in their aesthetic vision. Others seem to attest to greater individualist streaks and look strangely disjointed. Most often, the blocks of houses suggest a series of compromises between harmony and difference, between the ‘greater good’ and tenacious individualism.”

Walking the Debris Field: Public Geographies of the Halifax Explosion

Walking the Debris Field: Public Geographies of the Halifax Explosion

The Halifax Explosion reverberates as a definitive historic moment around which themes of destruction, reconstruction, urbanism, and community continue to circulate. From 2014 through 2017, as the centenary of the Explosion approaches, Narratives in Space + Time Society (NiS+TS) has presented a number of public walking events designed to explore the ways in which the disaster, the ensuing relief efforts, and the reconstruction continue to shape the diverse experiences and understandings of this city.

Founded in 2012 and based in Halifax and Dartmouth, NiS+TS is an interdisciplinary creative research group that promotes walking and the use of mobile media by artists and members of the public. The group’s projects are situated in spaces that are often overlooked, disused, or vacant. Participants use walking, talking, and making objects in combination with technologies such as GPS, smartphones, and mobility tracking devices to conduct interactive explorations of locations and subjects.

Utilizing research methods such as psychogeography, an experiential approach to drifting through urban space devised by the French theorist Guy Debord, and creation models that emphasize interdisciplinary collaborations, the exhibition features new projects created by NiS+TS to mark the Halifax Explosion’s 100th commemoration.

Claire Hodge: Negotiations
Curated by Peter Dykhuis

The Hydrostone neighbourhood, now nearly one hundred years old, is one of the most striking legacies of the Halifax Explosion. It stands as a powerful testament to the reconstruction efforts required to house the working-class families who were left homeless by the events of the Explosion. For many, however, the Hydrostone’s appeal lies in its unique ability to express the passage of time: in this neighbourhood, layers of the present co-exist with traces of the past. The original grey granite ‘hydrostone’ blocks live anachronistically side-by-side with a dizzying array of wood, composite, and vinyl siding materials. Extensions have been added, shutters have been removed, exterior walls have been painted, porches have been closed in, and trees, shrubs, and gardens have been cultivated.

Halifax artist Claire Hodge has systematically photographed all of the existing homes to create a portrait of the changing face of a landmark neighbourhood. Hodge notes, “The Hydrostone townhomes reveal a complex set of negotiations realized tacitly or explicitly by the people who have lived there. Some blocks of houses are united in their aesthetic vision. Others seem to attest to greater individualist streaks and look strangely disjointed. Most often, the blocks of houses suggest a series of compromises between harmony and difference, between the ‘greater good’ and tenacious individualism.”

The Halifax Explosion

OPENING RECEPTION Wednesday 11 October at 6 PM
Halifax Explosion Panel at 7 PM, Sir James Dunn Theatre, with reception in Gallery to follow.

In October through December 2017, we will mount five projects to commemorate the centennial year of the Halifax Explosion, a maritime disaster that occurred on the morning of 6 December 1917 as the result of a collision between the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship laden with high explosives, and the SS Imo, a Norwegian relief vessel. The two ships collided in the Narrows, a strait connecting the upper Halifax Harbour to the Bedford Basin. Approximately 2,000 people were killed by the immediate blast, its concussion, and its debris, or by the resultant fires that engulfed collapsed buildings. An estimated 9,000 others were injured.

The historical narrative of the Explosion is often considered from a military point of view. As an alternative approach to this well examined event, the Dalhousie Art Gallery is working with several artists, urban planners, social historians, cartographers, and architects to explore its various social and cultural impacts, and will present five exhibitions.
 

From the Vault: Recent Acquisitions to the Permanent Collection

From the Vault: Recent Acquisitions to the Permanent Collection

THE PORTER COLLECTION
With a specific mandate to collect artworks by local and regional artists, and an emphasis on collecting works on paper, the Dalhousie Art Gallery permanent collection includes a number of mid and later twentieth century paintings and drawings of maritime subject matter. Because many of these have been acquired through donation, not only do they reflect the Gallery’s collecting interests, they also represent and reflect the various collecting interests of the donors.

The most recent donation to the Gallery is a selection of thirteen works from the private collection of Brian and Megan Porter and Family. Through their shared passion for art and a love for Atlantic Canada, the Porters have built a collection of early twentieth century paintings of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia maritime scenes, and works by several contemporary Atlantic Canadian artists.

Their donation makes a significant contribution to strengthening our collection, both by introducing the work of Molly Lamb and Mary Pratt—artists who were not as yet represented in the collection—and in complementing works by artists who are touchstones in the collection and in the Gallery’s collecting history, including AY Jackson, Robert Pilot, and Christopher Pratt.

From the Vault: Recent Acquisitions to the Permanent Collection

From the Vault: Recent Acquisitions to the Permanent Collection

The Gallery is very pleased to announce two significant contributions to the permanent collection that were received in 2016. Because we have very limited resources for the purchase of artworks, the Gallery relies on donations, of both acquisitions funds and artworks, to expand the collection, an activity that greatly enhances our ability to foster an appreciation and understanding of the visual arts within the Dalhousie University community, and to be a resource for our local and regional communities.

DANA CLAXTON: THE MUSTANG SUITE

This iconic series of five large-scale photographs by Dana Claxton, a Vancouver-based artist of Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux ancestry, spans considerations of popular western culture and assimilation, and Indigenous identity and representation. The suite presents staged portraits of members of a contemporary Indigenous family posing with various refigured mustangs: a muscle car, a banana-seat bicycle, a pony, and a white woman with horse blinders and mouth bit. Exhibited at the Dalhousie Art Gallery in 2011 as part of the National Gallery of Canada’s touring exhibition “Steeling the Gaze: Portraits by Aboriginal Artists”, The Mustang Suite is distinguished for its incisive and provocative humour, impeccable technical production, and its many layers of social commentary and critique.

The acquisition was made possible through the generosity of the artist, financial contributions from Alumni members of Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law, and support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisitions Grants program. Assistance with the transportation from Vancouver of the framed photographs was provided by TOTAL Museum and Fine Arts Services, Toronto