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Past Exhibitions: 2010

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14 January to 7 March 2010

Lord Dalhousie:
Patron and Collector

Organized by the National Gallery of Canada

Curated by René Villeneuve
Associate Curator of Early Canadian Art

Opening Reception Wednesday 13 January at 8 pm

George Ramsay, 9th Earl of Dalhousie, was Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia from 1816 to 1820, then Governor-in-Chief of British North America until he returned to his native Scotland in 1828. This exhibition features 94 works – watercolours, sketches, lithographs, models, architectural drawings and objets d’art – that he commissioned during his tenure in Canada and offers a unique portrait of one of the first patrons of Canadian art. Many of the works in this exhibition are on public display for the first time.

Inspired by his love of art and the preservation of heritage, Lord Dalhousie left a rich artistic legacy composed of a large number of artworks and cultural accomplishments, making him the first true major art patron in Canada. Along with the many extraordinary artworks that he commissioned and collected, he was responsible for a number of major initiatives, including the oldest public monument in Québec City, the first library in Halifax – today the Cambridge Military Library – the Literary and Historical Society of Québec, which is still active, and our home, Dalhousie University, one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in Canada.

Excursions and journeys were the hallmark of Dalhousie’s approach to governing. While he was in Canada, he sponsored a number of artists who accompanied him on his official visits to the four provinces that formed British North America at that time, and who executed his commissions. Among the most prominent were James Pattison Cockburn, Charles Ramus Forrest, James Smillie, John Crawford Young and John Elliott Woolford. The numerous landscapes painted by these artists, and by others, attest to the importance that the Governor attached to having illustrations to accompany his journal notes. Thus, Lord Dalhousie laid the foundations for the visual memory of a fledgling nation.

During his time as Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Lord Dalhousie commissioned John Elliott Woolford to create watercolours and engravings depicting key public buildings, notably Government House, the Province Building and the original 1818 building that housed Dalhousie University. Woolford also recorded numerous views of the Halifax landscape and environs, including York Redoubt and, farther inland, the estate at Mount Uniacke. The Nova Scotia Museum is a major lender of Woolford’s work to the National Gallery for this exhibition with other significant works loaned by Government House, Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management, and Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections.

Lord Dalhousie: Patron and Collector
organizes Lord Dalhousie’s legacy in eight thematic groupings beginning with one which paints a portrait of the man – his career and his cultural and historical interests. Another grouping concentrates on the principal artists whose work Lord Dalhousie collected and with whom he maintained ongoing relationships. Other key sections focus on the subject matter of the commissioned artworks: The Human Landscape, brings together works that depict the villages and towns in the territories under the Governor’s jurisdiction; Projects in Architecture, Engineering, and Urbanism, which presents Lord Dalhousie’s contributions in these areas; Grand Estates, a selection of works portraying estates and their majestic residences in Nova Scotia and Québec that are reminiscent of the Scottish and English estates of the period. Two large groupings are The Spectacle of Nature, which assembles watercolours and washes showing the wealth and diversity of virgin nature and the Other: First Peoples and Canadiens, which displays objets d’art and artworks that testify to Lord Dalhousie’s curiosity and interest in cultures different from his own.

René Villeneuve, Associate Curator of Early Canadian art at the National Gallery of Canada, conducted detailed research into Lord Dalhousie’s collection over a six-year period and unearthed previously undiscovered works, including seventeen that now belong to the National Gallery. Affiliated with the National Gallery for more than twenty years, Mr. Villeneuve and has made important scholarly contributions through his exhibitions, books and articles about Canadian art.

The exhibition at Dalhousie Art Gallery is supported by funding from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia (JSF Fund) in recognition of the importance of primary research to curatorial excellence.

René Villeneuve's curatorial work would not have been possible without the initial work of the late Marjory Whitelaw, a Nova Scotia resident, who made Lord Dalhousie's activities known through her editorial work that resulted in the publication of the diaries kept by George Ramsay while Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia and then Governor-in-chief of British North America.




William Douglas, George, 9th Earl of Dalhousie
with His Dogs Basto and Yarrow
, c. 1816
private collection

19 March to 9 May

Disrupted Pictures:
Dyan Marie and Bill Marshall

Curated by Peter Dykhuis

Opening reception Thursday 18 March at 8 pm

Free Public Guided Tour with Bill Marshall
Sunday 11 April at 2 pm

Dyan Marie and Bill Marshall began their careers in the late 1970s when late-Modernist abstraction was under critical re-evaluation re-evaluation by younger artists who were also reinvestigating image making and the politics of postmodern representation. Both artists were on the frontlines of this resurgence but were also engaged with social and cultural issues in their urban neighbourhoods. Marie continues to be an urban activist in Toronto’s Bloor Street and Lansdowne Avenue district – an engagement that has deeply informed her current art practice. Marshall, however, relocated ten years ago to Chester Basin, Nova Scotia, after many years of fighting Vancouver’s exorbitant cost of living and experiencing a high degree of urban burnout.

Now, after a few decades of living and making art in the world, both Marshall and Marie are making art of the world, enfolding their personal ‘worldviews’ into their art practices. Without returning to the strategies of 20th century modernist abstraction, they apply tools of abstraction to their use of representational images. They obliterate, overlay, blur, disrupt and further manipulate what they initially represent in pictorial space – informed by their social/political engagements with their environments, and within a cultural milieu now defined by digital technologies. Marshall still paints landscapes the old-fashioned way – with brush on canvas – but with a palette that quotes the unnatural glow of LED (light emitting diode) illumination and dotted overlays that suggest pixelation. Marie’s photo-based work, fully digital in its production, explores the tension between source images and their manipulations while quoting ‘still life’ painting in a very unstill, urban environment.

In the process of presenting these two artists’ work together, an unusual reversal of expectation occurs. The picturesque Nova Scotian landscape, often portrayed as benign and unspoilt for tourism purposes, provides dark subject matter for Marshall’s depictions of contested territories in his Nova Scotia’s picturesque South Shore region that, for example, will see the destruction of fragile ecosystems due to commercial development. In contrast, Marie’s beleaguered urban context is infused with euphoric colour and energy in images that champion positive social climates within her stressed inner-city neighbourhood. Both Marshall and Marie are keenly aware of their surroundings and the dynamics of the forces of change – for better or worse. The transformations within both bodies of work, however, serve to focus attention on what is unaffected and comprehensible: the landscapes and the figures that endure.






Dyan Marie
Un-still Lives with Traffic: School Girl, 2007

image courtesy of the artist

Bill Marshall
Navigating Complex Systems - 091, 2009
image courtesy of the artist






21 May to 4 July

Peter Coffman
Anglicana Tales: Stories of the Nova Scotian Church, Shown and Told

OPENING RECEPTION Thursday 20 May at 8 pm

ARTIST TALK Thursday 10 June at 8 pm

Halifax will host the 39th Session of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada from 3 – 11 June. Central to the activities will be the commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the first Anglican service in mainland Canada at Annapolis Royal in 1710.

Peter Coffman, a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at Dalhousie University, is an architectural historian specializing in English medieval and Canadian Gothic Revival architecture. During his tenure at Dalhousie, Coffman, also an accomplished photographer, has been documenting the rich and varied architecture of urban and rural Anglican churches in Nova Scotia – including the recent controversial dismantling of the 200 year-old All Saints Anglican Church in Granville Centre due to its sale and export to a Baptist congregation in Abita Springs, Louisiana.

In response to the presence of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, Coffman was invited by the Dalhousie Art Gallery to prepare an exhibition that photographically illustrates and poetically elucidates his recent research. Playing with the structure of Chaucer’s medieval Canterbury Tales, Coffman offers:

Anglicana Tales is a celebration of the extraordinary contribution of the Anglican Church to the built heritage of Nova Scotia. A series of photographs divided into eight narrative ‘tales’, it is a visual and verbal evocation of memories and stories drawn from three centuries of Anglican presence in the province. As well as marking that tricentennial milestone, the exhibition coincides with the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod in Halifax.

These ‘tales’ present a polyphony of stories that interweave, intersect, diverge, complement, and even contradict one another. Each tale is like the lens of a camera: it includes some features, excludes others, puts certain things into sharp focus and blurs the rest. Together, they form a tangled collage that is as delightful to the photographer as it is perplexing to the historian.

Integral features of a uniquely compelling natural and human landscape, the churches shown in the exhibition contain much of the cultural DNA of the province. Anglicana Tales fosters the hope that these buildings, memories and stories will prove to be as indelible as they are beautiful.

Safe Passages and Welcome Harbours:
Works from the Permanent Collection

Curated by Peter Dykhuis

OPENING RECEPTION Thursday 20 May at 8 pm

2010 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Navy. During the spring and summer, Halifax will host a series of commemorative events including: the annual Sea Power and Maritime Security Conference organized by the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies; an international fleet review of visiting, foreign naval ships; and the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo whose program will honour the Navy’s place in Canadian history.

Recognizing Nova Scotia’s complex relationship to the sea and its maritime history, this exhibition of works from the Permanent Collection considers the harbour as a functional contact zone between navigation routes and the ships and boats that call the coves, jetties and wharves “home”.

With works in a variety of media by Jack Bush, Arthur Lismer, Alex Livingston, Aileen Meagher and Marguerite Zwicker, among others, Safe Passages and Welcome Harbours also features representational ship and boat portraits, images of ships at sea in their “work” environment and portrayals of the sea itself as subject matter.

Whether defined by nearby edges of rock and sand or distant horizon lines, the sea is ever-present in these artworks that regard the ocean’s waters as a surface for both nautical transport and poetic contemplation.






Peter Coffman
Christ Church, Karsdale, 2009

image courtesy of the artist




























Richard Jack
From Lord's Point, n.d.
Purchased with funds donated by an anonymous Dalhousie Alumnus, 1960


27 August to 3 October

Giving Notice:
Words on Walls

Thursday 23 September at 8 pm

Giving Notice: Words on Walls presents projects by artists who, with hand-painted letters or custom-cut vinyl, apply font-based words, phrases and sentences directly onto gallery walls; in effect, these artists borrow the walls as public tablets to write on. The texts – in some installations filling entire walls – play with the ‘authority’ of the gallery and the written word while exploring the relationship between visual art and language. The works in the exhibition, which exist only for the duration of the public display and, in the end, will be painted over or destroyed, also challenge traditional notions regarding artworks as aesthetic objects and portable cultural and economic commodities.

By working with existing commercial fonts and sign painting systems, the artists in this exhibition align their projects with the history of typography, stencilled lettering and industrial printing affiliated with temporary, text-based communications posted on billboards, signs and walls in the everyday environment. Indeed, the use of larger-scaled, font-based words – rather than personal and human-scaled cursive handwriting – imbues each artist’s text with an architectural and institutional presence, assertively placing their messages into the public realm. Some pieces investigate the formal conundrums of exhibiting imagistic words on walls rather than wordless images; others point to literary conversations or socio-political contexts with roots in urban and military environments well beyond the gallery walls.

Curated by Peter Dykhuis the participating artists are: Brad Buckley (Sydney, Australia), Cathy Busby (Halifax, NS), Garry Neill Kennedy (Halifax, NS), Gordon Lebredt (Toronto, ON), Micah Lexier and Christian Bök (Toronto, ON and Calgary, AB), and Lawrence Weiner (New York, NY).


Garry Neill Kennedy, New!, 2010
image courtesy of the artist

10 to 17 October

2010 RBC Canadian Painting Competition

Established in 1999, the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, with the support of the Canadian Art Foundation, is a unique initiative to help nurture and support promising new artists in the early stages of their careers, at a time when they need both recognition and financial support. The competition provides the artists with a forum to display their artistic talent to the country and hopefully open doors to future opportunities.

Montréal-based artist Alexis Lavoie was recently selected as the national winner for his work Restants and was awarded $25,000. The two honourable mentions, who each received $15,000, were given to Jon Reed from Toronto for his work Stato di Impotenza and Mark Stebbins from Toronto for his work Data Centers.

The national winners were chosen from more than 600 works submitted by artists from across the country. Regional jury panels of distinguished members of the arts community selected five paintings from their regions as follows: Eastern (Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador), Central (Ontario) and Western Canada (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut).

This year’s finalists are: Hugo Bergeron, Scott Bertram, Benjamin Klein, Alexis Lavoie, Rick Leong (Eastern Region); Sarah Cale, Scott Everingham, John Reed, Mark Stebbins, Beth Stuart (Central Region); Eli Bornowsky, Aaron Carpenter, Megan Hepburn, Laura Piasta, Melanie Rocan (Western Region).

For more information about the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, visit:




24 October to 28 November

David Diviney
Head for the Hills

OPENING RECEPTION Sunday 24 October at 2 pm

Thursday 25 November at 8 pm

Born in the Appalachian foothills of Pennsylvania, David Diviney is an artist whose practice is rooted in rural culture. In a recent artist statement he offers, “I have been taken by the notion of ‘the rural’ as a point of transition between the man-made and natural worlds – a somewhat abstract space – and how it meets up with popular culture as well as personal and shared histories.” His sculptures and installations are made from everyday hardware-store supplies and lumberyard materials (galvanized buckets, garbage cans, rubber boots, wool socks, sonotubes, cedar shingles and particle board) deftly manipulated into assemblages that fuse Minimalist aesthetics and production sensibilities with tongue-in-cheek references to vernacular constructs – outsider art forms, do-it-yourself ethics, folklore, etc. – and imagery. This balancing of disparate aesthetic and cultural agendas is a foundational strategy in Diviney’s work that respectfully quotes Modernist sculptural history, tradition and formal language while combining them with Postmodernist narrative structures, humour and cultural parody.

David Diviney attained his BFA degree in 1995 from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia. He graduated in 1998 from the MFA program of NSCAD University in Halifax, and was the Director of Eye Level Gallery until 2002 when he moved to Lethbridge, Alberta, then Kamloops, British Columbia, to pursue curatorial and teaching positions. In 2009, Diviney returned to Nova Scotia to work as Curator of Programs for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia at the Western Branch in Yarmouth and, as of this year, as the Curator of Exhibitions at the AGNS’s main gallery in Halifax. This exhibition, an overview of Diviney’s practice, begins with early works produced in Halifax but predominately debuts many works created during his sojourn in Western Canada.



10 to 19 December

57th SSFA

Thursday 9 December at 8 pm

In its 57th year, this exhibition is our annual celebration of the creativity of the students, staff, faculty and alumni of Dalhousie University and the University of King’s College, in painting, photography, mixed media, video, sculpture and crafts.































David Diviney
Decoy (Canadian), 2005-06
image courtesy of the artist

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