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A season for inspiration

[Comrade Objects]
Ciara Phillips: Comrade Objects is one of three exhibitions featured for the Fall Season at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Supplied Photo)

With Queen’s University marking its 175th anniversary it is only fitting that the Agnes Etherington Art Centre be part of the celebrations.

The Agnes will be celebrating the Fall Season launch on Thursday, Sept. 15 with three new exhibitions – Ciara Phillips: Comrade Objects; Treasures and Tales: Queen’s Early Collections; and The Other NFB: The National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division, 1941–1971.

“Two of our three new exhibitions this season are inspired by Queen’s University’s 175th anniversary,” Agnes Director Jan Allen points out. “Treasures and Tales: Queen’s Early Collections brings the past to life through the rare art, artifacts and documents that formed the foundational holdings of the Agnes and Queen’s Archives. Every item reveals the personalities, aspirations and shifting networks of influence that shaped the university and the nation itself. Ciara Phillips: Comrade Objects projects this history into the present and the future through the practice of an extremely talented alumna, who holds social forces up to scrutiny while exploding graphics across our gallery spaces.”

[Arthur Lismer]
Arthur Lismer, Quebec Village (Saint-Hilarion), 1926, oil on canvas. Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen's University. Gift of H. S. Southam, 1949 (00-094).

A graduate of the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at Queen’s, Ciara Phillips was a finalist for the prestigious Turner Award in 2014 and returned to her alma mater as the Koerner Visiting Artist last year. This year she will be on campus for six weeks as a Queen’s University Artist in Residence. Her exhibition for the Agnes, Comrade Objects, presents a new body of work that brings together energetic blocks of colour, echoing motifs, useful slogans and black and white portraits of women engaged in focused work.

At the same time Ms. Phillips is offering a new iteration of her Turner Prize-nominated Workshop (2010–ongoing), which brings screen printing equipment into the gallery to create an active space of investigation, discussion and debate.

To explore the ethics and potential of “making together,” Ms. Phillips has invited fellow Canadian artist, artist-curator and artist-publisher Clive Robertson to co-produce posters and publications.

With Treasures and Tales: Queen’s Early Collections, curators Alicia Boutilier and Deirdre Bryden mark Queen’s 175th anniversary through significant artworks and archival documents from the university’s early collections.

Produced by Carleton University Art Gallery and curated by Carol Payne and Sandra Dyck, The Other NFB: The National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division, 1941–1971 looks at how the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) imagined Canada and Canadian identity, the role photographs played in that imagining, and how the NFB’s photographic archive was — and continues to be — used.

The Fall Season launch starts with a members’ preview from 5 to 6:30 pm with brief curatorial presentations and Ms. Phillips will introduce her work. Formal remarks will take place at 6:30 pm, at the beginning of the public reception, which runs to 8 pm. Artists and special guests will be present. All are welcome to attend.

[NFB]
Unknown photographer, Veronica Foster, an employee of John Inglis Co. Ltd. and known as “The Bren Gun Girl” in the John Inglis Co. Ltd. plant, Toronto, 10 May 1941, Contemporary print from vintage negative, National Film Board of Canada.

Ms. Allen says she is eager to celebrate and scrutinize the shows through new eyes.

“The season launch is a special moment in which the culmination of prolonged effort encounters its audience; I always learn something unforeseen about the exhibitions from our visitors,” she says. “We’re very excited to present these extremely fine new and continuing shows.”

A number of events are also being held this fall at the Agnes to mark the 175th anniversary of Queen’s. During Homecoming Weekend the Agnes will extend its hours to 10 am-5pm to welcome alumni back to the university. A special guided tour is available on Friday, Oct. 14 from 2-3pm. The Agnes will also host an Open House 175th Anniversary Party on Thursday, Oct. 20 from 4-8 pm. Visitors will be able to see the new David McTavish Art Study Room in action while selected works of art will also be brought out of the vault with Agnes curators on hand to discuss the pieces that are currently not on display.

Continuing exhibitions at the Agnes are Stories to Tell: Africans and the Diaspora Respond to the Lang Collection and Singular Figures: Portraits and Character Studies in Northern Baroque Painting. The latter features the recent addition to The Bader Collection, Rembrandt’s splendid Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo. Additional new installations are featured in the Atrium and Etherington House.

For more information visit the Agnes Etherington Art Centre website.