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Due to construction in the area, please allow extra travel time when visiting Harbourfront Centre. Details here.
April 12 - June 15, 2014
How does art become “art history”? It could be argued that history is what gives art much of its power. Artists reclaim history, scrutinize or even throw out the story. By doing so, they present a picture more complex and textured than any systematic academic account. All artists are therefore historiographers. Artists give a full picture to occurrences of the past, and question historical assumptions that may no longer speak to the lived experience.
The eight artists in this exhibition create works that look back in time in an attempt to seek answers and question conventional responses. They draw from many sources such as art history, historical events and personal memories. History is not fixed; these artists examine the past to build new forms on top of what has come before. Importantly, these artists reveal particular histories that may have been lost or forgotten. Historiographic seeks to account for what has passed and explore how art can claim and reclaim history for present-day insight.
– Patrick Macaulay, Director, Visual Arts
Black Nance was the name of the first Tancook Schooner built by Amos Stevens in 1903. I built a model that is based loosely on that boat. The Black Nance I built does not attempt to faithfully replicate the original, but the two boats exist in the same place – the original was the first of its kind and, within my practice, mine is as well.
As children, my brother Andrew and I played with toy boats that our father made for us. There was a tugboat with a stubby smoke stack, a shapely ocean liner and others. Donald, my boyhood friend, built miniature moorings for his own toy boats in the river behind his cottage. With bricks, cord and fishing floats he showed me how to make my own. Donald’s Atlantic Breeze was lost in that river when it broke from its mooring. His dad had made that boat, too.
When the Black Nance was complete I launched it in the ocean. Using a piece of cast steel as an anchor and a cork ball as a float I made a small mooring. The Black Nance stayed at its mooring for a time existing in a quiet moment of non-use with rigging lashed tight. The little boat pitched and rolled with the small waves and currents.
– Christopher Boyne
Christopher Boyne is a photo-based artist who uses found ideas, memory and fiction to create work with manifold complexities. His work has been shown in group and solo shows across Canada and the US. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Dick and Gretchen Evans Fellowship for Photography. He is currently based in Montreal and Halifax.
Growing up in the 1960s, the Apollo program symbolized, to me, the beginning of an exciting future filled with space exploration, flying cars, modular furniture and jumpsuits for everyone. By 1969, my life was totally consumed by the Apollo XI mission to the moon. I recall spending endless childhood afternoons drawing countless renditions of Saturn V rockets, Lunar Command and Excursion Modules, and astronauts strolling through crater filled landscapes.
I derived great pleasure from drawing such things. And still do. It felt as though drawing somehow connected me directly to the Apollo experience. It was probably when I discovered that the act of drawing and painting was a way of interpreting the world and creating meaning. I was filled, at the time, with a sense of eternal wonder and optimism.
I’ve carried those memories into my adult life, but experience and age have necessarily modified my perspective. Wonder and optimism have been augmented with reality, irony and a gloomy reckoning of mortality. The 1969 memory persists, but it is now bent out of shape, recast and forged by time.
– Gary Clement
Gary Clement has been the political cartoonist for the National Post since its debut in 1998. His freelance illustration work appears in magazines and newspapers as diverse as Mother Jones, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time and The Guardian and has been featured in American Illustration on numerous occasions. He has illustrated numerous children’s books in Canada and the US and has written and illustrated two children’s books: Just Stay Put, which was nominated for a Governor General’s award for illustration in 1996, and The Great Poochini, which won the award in 1999.
Clement has been exhibiting his drawings and paintings since 1999. His most recent show, Paintings for Modern Homo Sapiens, was held at Loop gallery in December, 2013. He has taught cartooning and illustration in Toronto at Ontario College of Art & Design University and in Hangzhou, China. Clement is represented in Toronto by Loop Gallery and Parts Gallery and in the US by Marlena Agency.
History is a study subject to interpretation, in which narratives become scattered and muddied, skewed and biased, altered and embellished, strewn and gathered, unpicked, and patch-worked back together. Maps form a part of the writing of this history, tracing our intimacy with the pathways and geographies they seek to explain. In my daily life I travel the same corridor along the shores of Lake Ontario; the waste places along the highways and rail routes are my accompanying panorama. All the scenes are fleeting because of the speed of travel, but as blurred images sweep past, I absorb the scenery and I wonder how the landscape might look without the last two centuries of human touch. I imagine myself as a lady geographer, traversing the landscape of this country, recording the terrain and documenting gathered specimens with needle and thread, the land shaping my character and leaving traces upon me as I traverse it.
– Thea Haines
Thea Haines is a textile designer, artist, curator, consultant and researcher. She received her MA in Textile Design from Chelsea College of Art and Design, in London, UK. She studied Textile Design at Sheridan College and holds an Honours BA in Art and Comparative Literature from McMaster University, Hamilton. Previously an Artist-in-Residence in the Craft Studio at Harbourfront Centre, and a member of the Contemporary Textile Studio Co-operative, Toronto, she is a founding member of the Beehive Craft Collective and Pulling Strings Curatorial Collective. Her studio practice revolves around the use of natural dyes as an aspect of sustainable textile craft production. She teaches textile design at Sheridan College.
These paintings are part of a larger exploration of subjects from natural history and material culture. In particular, I am fascinated by the structural, contextual and aesthetic aspects of historic religious architecture, and have a special fondness for architectural ruins. I was fortunate to have spent some years as a student at the Accademia dell Belle Arti in Florence, Italy, where, like so any other foreign painters, I became enchanted with the surrounding layers of civilization visibly preserved through the archeological and architectural record. Later, a year spent in in the Netherlands and travels through Germany and France fostered my appreciation of early Northern building styles. The paintings in this exhibition derive from my memories of buildings I have experienced as well as from buildings seen in some of my favorite sources such as engravings in antique geographic atlases, 19th century photographs and, of course, old master paintings.
– David Holt
Painter David Holt has been the recipient of a painting grant from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and an artist’s residency at the Ragdale Foundation. He has exhibited extensively and taught for many years in the US, where he chaired the Art Department at Marymount College (later of Fordham University) in Tarrytown, New York. Since 2005, he has lived and worked in Toronto, teaching art at Upper Canada College. He a member of the Loop Gallery collective (Toronto).
With the unreliability of perception and representation as a starting point, my practice is concerned with mark making, repetition and accumulation. Different representations of the same image subvert authenticity as an ideal. The history of the work itself is evident: the process and the material. The brushstrokes on the paper record the passing of time and serve as evidence of an experience of looking and making over time. Each painting is a version of what is represented, and any number of versions might construct a single truth. Yet it is the inherent unreliability of the process that interests me.
– Lynn Price
Lynn Price is an artist based in Powell River, BC. Her practice is concerned with the unreliability of perception in relation to time and representation. Lynn graduated from Emily Carr University of Art & Design in 2013 and was the recipient of the Mary Plumb Blade Award (for excellence in painting) and The Governor General’s Silver Medal. Her work, Your Past, was short-listed for the 2014 IDEA Award. In 2013, her work was included in Fresh Paint/New Construction at Art Mûr, Montreal. She will be participating in House Games Triennial in Finland this November.
In my art practice, I have been exploring the ambiguities inherent in the comprehension of language and the multiple meanings that texts generate. In my artwork, I simulate script. How we interpret meaning from texts is the essence of my work.
My current body of work is inspired by the handwritten drafts of autograph manuscript pages by authors as diverse as Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf and Guy De Maupassant. These manuscript pages bear witness to the working process of the authors showing corrections, deletions, even doodles. I examined the ways in which each author organized his or her thoughts and marks on the page. Through this I gained insight into their creative process as well as something of the authors themselves, which was very poignant to me.
As an avid collector of memorabilia, especially those associated with writing implements, paper and old journals, I simulate manuscripts onto a variety of paper including player piano rolls. I aim to translate each handwritten page into gestural marks which, although not legible, still retain the essence of each author.
– Sylvia Ptak
Sylvia Ptak is a Toronto-based artist. She received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has participated in solo and group exhibitions in Canada, the US and Italy. Exhibitions include Dissembling Language at Mercer Union, Sotto Voce at the Textile Museum of Canada, Commentary at University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and manuscriptus at articule in Montreal. Her work was included in Metalogos, a travelling exhibition which originated in La Spezia, Italy, and concluded its tour at Forest City Gallery, London, ON. She is represented by David Kaye Gallery in Toronto where she had a recent solo show in November 2013 entitled First Draft, Second Draft…
Part of a series entitled Toronto Souvenir, this project explores the that role memory plays in photography and history. In particular, it is about revisiting sites of memory within the city of Toronto that contain little or no visible trace of their public and private significance. Utilizing libraries and archives as well as surveying regional historical societies, the project attracted a variety of stories that warranted inclusion and perpetuation in Toronto’s living memory. The stories range from early aviation history, the trauma of Hurricane Hazel, the marginalized history of women in the war effort, and other site-specific memories. By photographing these sites and re-presenting them along with their hidden histories, this project intends to provoke dialogue about the in/tangible place of memories and their relationship to photography and storytelling.
– Garett Walker
Garett Walker is an artist and photographer. Having completed a BFA in Photography and a MFA in Documentary Media Studies from Ryerson University, he has traveled extensively across Canada, using his camera to document the country’s varied regional cultural heritage. He is a recipient of many private and public artistic development grants, which help to fund his ongoing work. He is an active participant in the Toronto arts community and his work is collected by various private collectors and public institutions in Canada.
“Have you occasionally experienced something like that – the shiver of history?”
– from letters by Gustave Flaubert to Louise Colet, 1846 to1854.
My work propels itself through various media bouncing ideas back and forth, in a practice where the studio process and resultant detritus are embraced. The work ricochets between architectural references, drawings, photographs and models, intentionally confounding the perception of scale for the viewer through an ambiguous or skewed context.
For Historiographic, I have looked at Old Union Station (1886 – 1927), referencing photographs found on the websites of the Toronto Archives and the Toronto Public Library. Located at the foot of York Street on the waterfront, the building was torn down, having served its purpose as a busy terminal for the developing city. Perhaps the bricks and mortar became part of the land fill that the current Harbourfront Centre sits upon. Certainly the “shiver of history” is in evidence.
– Lynne Wynick
Lynne Wynick was born in London, England, lived in Cardiff, Wales and immigrated to Canada in 1957, settling in Toronto. She studied at the Ontario College of Art, 1966-69. Wynick is co-founder and co-director of the Wynick/Tuck Gallery, Toronto
Wynick has exhibited in group and solo public gallery exhibitions, including Gallery TPW (Toronto), Modern Fuel Gallery (Kingston, ON), and Union Gallery (Queen’s University, Kingston). Her books and multiples are represented in the bookwork collections of the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), and the Art Gallery of Ontario, and numerous private collections. Her multiples are represented by Art Metropole (Toronto).