Changing Tides: Contemporary Art of Newfoundland and Labrador - January 25 to April 27, 2014


January 25 to June 1, 2014
Organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Guest curated by Patricia Grattan.


Ned Pratt (b. 1964), Façade, Northern Peninsula, 2009, digital photograph - pigment-based archival print, 152.4 x 152.4 cm , Collection of Mr. Barry Appleton, Image courtesy of Christina Parker Gallery, St. John's, NL

Pam Hall, The Coil That Binds, The Line That Bends 1988-1993, Newfoundland cod trap, red twine, 3 framed elements of various media including colour photocopy, 24 dye coupler
prints (Ektacolor), coloured pencil and graphite on wove paper cod trap wrapped in twine: dimensions variable 3 framed elements, each: 101.6 x 76.2 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Newfoundland and Labrador, in recent years, has become a growing presence in the Canadian consciousness owing to factors such as its oil-fired economic boom, effective provincial tourism marketing, and the many local writers, musicians, actors, comedians, and filmmakers who have emerged on the national stage. Among these notable figures are Wayne Johnston, Lisa Moore, Allan Hawco, Jonny Harris, Shaun Majumder, Great Big Sea, and Hey Rosetta.


The visual arts—which is the art form least rooted in the province’s traditional culture—has commanded comparatively less national attention, excluding the work of David Blackwood, Christopher Pratt, and Mary Pratt who emerged in the 1960s when the province’s first professional visual arts community was taking shape. This group exhibition, entitled Changing Tides, calls attention to the rich and diverse work that is now emerging—quietly but with increasing confidence—from the country’s eastern edge.


The artists featured in the exhibition include: Marlene Creates, winner of the BMO Exhibition Prize at the 2013 Scotiabank CONTACT Festival; Will Gill, a past participant in Nuit Blanche and the Venice Biennale’s collateral program; photographer Ned Pratt, whose work appeared in MASS MoCA’s recent exhibition Oh Canada; and Michael Flaherty, an Emerging Artist Nominee for the 2013 RBC Prize in Ceramics. 


The sixty-eight works, by twenty-nine artists, have been provided by public, corporate, and private lenders in Newfoundland and the Toronto area. The artists represented are either based in Newfoundland and Labrador or possess significant bodies of work depicting the province. The latter category includes painters John Hartman and Ron Bolt, as well as photographer Scott Walden.


Diversity is the hallmark of Newfoundland and Labrador art. There has never been a shared aesthetic or approach to art making beyond a widely shared use of realism, or at least figuration, employed in a variety of different ways. Newfoundlanders, however, are famous for their deep and enduring attachment to home—an attachment that has been embraced by most incoming artists; therefore it is not surprising that the landscape and references to traditional cultural practices serve as central sources of imagery in their work. The exhibition also explores the concepts of narrative, memory, loss, and the human relationship to the natural environment.


Viewers will notice these elements woven throughout works in a variety of media: from David Blackwood’s narratives of outport communities and the seal fishery, to Labrador sculptor Mike Massie’s gently humorous “teapots”; from Mi’Kmaq artist Jordan Bennett’s interactive sculptural sound and video installation, to Scott Walden’s photo-documentation of clubs along Conception Bay; and from Gerald Squires’ romantic painting of the Barrens, to the more subtle poetry of Ned Pratt’s increasingly abstract large-scale photographs.


Artists in Exhibition: Anne Meredith Barry, Jordan Bennett, David Blackwood, Grant Boland, Ron Bolt, Marlene Creates, Barb Daniell, Marlene Creates, Michael Flaherty, Billy Gauthier, Will Gill, Scott Goudie, Michael Gough, Kym Greeley, Pam Hall, John Hartman, Barb Hunt, Christine Koch, Michael Massie, Michael Pittman, Barbara Pratt, Christopher Pratt, Ned Pratt, Mary Pratt, William B. Ritchie, Bill Rose, Gerald Squires, Scott Walden, Don Wright. 

About the Curator:

For over twenty years, Patricia Grattan was Director and Chief Curator of Memorial University Art Gallery in St. John’s, Newfoundland. In that role, she curated over 150 exhibitions and eventually initiated and led the gallery’s transition into The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery. Now based in St. John’s and Ottawa, she undertakes curatorial and writing projects with a particular, but not exclusive, focus on Newfoundland and Labrador. Her book City Seen: Artists’ Views of St. John’s 1785-2010 was published in 2011.

Grattan holds an Hon. B.A. in Journalism (Western University), a BFA (Concordia University) and a Master’s of Philosophy and Humanities (Memorial University). A 2006-2007 Research Fellow in Canadian Art at The National Gallery of Canada, she is examining the multiple connections between visual art and geology as reflected in Canadian landscape art from 1800 to the present day. Her contributions to the development of the visual arts in Canada have been recognized through several awards, most recently the Royal Canadian Academy’s 2012 RCA Medal and a 2013 induction into the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Hall of Honour.


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