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Shipbreaking #30 by Edward Burtynsky

Quest Art Upper Gallery presents

Shipped – Gary Blundell, Edward Burtynsky, Todd Tremeer, Murray Van Halem, Victoria Ward

Exhibition Reception: Friday, January 12, 2018, 7 - 9 pm
Opening Remarks: 7:30 pm
Lunch time curatorial talks with Jill Price: Mondays, January 29 & February 19 at 12:30 pm

In commemoration of Midland’s past and present shipping industry, as well as in response to the increasing rate of migrating refugees and trade across water, land and sky, Quest Art is proud to present Shipped. Encouraging dialogue around industrialization, commodification, globalization and the social or environmental impact of all three, five artists use different modes of mapping, model making and mimicry to present narratives about why, when, where and how we transport living and non-living material.

Via paint, Murray Van Halem honours the monumentality of tankers and passenger boats witnessed on the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay. Van Halem professes, “Painting ships is like painting a portrait. Each and every line on the hull is a story. It is a seafaring story of heavy seas, corrosive salt, imprisonment in ice and often years of neglect.” Humanizing each ship through his expressive application of paint, surrounding shipyards, tethered ropes, portholes and references to scale begin to provide context into what it would mean to work on, in or beside these massive boats.

I am in awe of the big ships. They are the length of a city block or more, the height of an apartment building, and yet float effortlessly on water […] They also work tirelessly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Through paint I explore their structure and gritty appearance […] to reflect the toughness of the ships themselves. — M. Van Halem

Edward Burtynsky's large photograph from his Shipbreaking in Bangladesh series reminds us of refuse imported and exported by such industries. The image also teaches us to think about the discarded in new ways. Once functional, decommissioned and abandoned ships were transformed from carrying devices into arrangements of readymade and raw materials, set to be mined and refined once again.

After the Exxon Valdez oil spill I heard […] about the danger of single-hulled ships. The insurance companies were refusing to cover them […]. Only double-hulled ships would be allowed on the open sea to prevent that kind of catastrophe from happening again. What went off in my mind was, wouldn’t it be interesting to see where these massive vessels will be taken apart. It would be a study of humanity and the skill it takes to dismantle these things. I looked upon the ship-breaking as the ultimate in recycling, […]. It turned out that most of the dismantling was happening in India and Bangladesh so that's where I went. — Ed Burtynsky

Gary Blundell’s bold sculptural paintings explore shipping from a rural perspective. His carved and painted wood panels simultaneously reference human interference and nature’s resistance and the frenzy of parallel and intersecting lines communicate the force used to alter natural habitats in order to accommodate the shipping and receiving of goods.

Once I became “rural”, I learned lakes, in what is now described as “cottage country”, were created during the building of the Trent Canal; a series of built dams eliminating wetland areas to allow for the organized flow of water into the canal to ensure an ongoing movement of shipped forestry products. As the area became more populated, roads were built; […] another type of shipping route. — Gary Blundell

Victoria Ward’s quieter works acknowledge the journey of the individual. Narrative depictions of “ice huts, shacks and shoreline factories” become emblems of humans interacting with shorelines, constantly transporting themselves into different environments where they indefinitely leave traces of their presence on the ‘natural world’. Ward shares, “Waterways are built, dredged, filled in and worked on endlessly in efforts to move people and goods. Water bodies are also places of leisure, romance, myth making and danger.”


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Battleship by Todd Tremeer

Bowmanville artist Todd Tremeer’s use of military model kits and war toys speak to our naval history of shipping troops, armaments and aid abroad. Drawing “analogies between the model and playing with space, time and narrative” he notes, “Models reveal how we picture our world and the history we choose to remember. We gaze upon models like we consume media coverage of distant tragedies – including war and terrorism – as spectators, at our leisure and from afar.” Playful at first glance, Tremeer’s work alludes to different ways in which violence is distributed, reproduced in miniature and packaged for play. His boxed ship constructions employing pop-up book mechanics, successfully point to the irony of shipping parts of ships. When considering the non-material, Tremeer’s reiterations of history camouflage how globalism often delivers conflicting perspectives, directives and agendas.

Notwithstanding self-critique, Shipped embodies the act of shipping art and artists during an environmental crisis where scientists are choosing not to travel to international conferences. What is the responsibility of artists, galleries, funding bodies and international art fairs? Do we continue to import block buster shows at the expense of natural resources and air quality, or do we nurture and celebrate the local? Perhaps for some, the virtual will be the only way to travel and view international works of art? As you meander through the gallery, we hope you will ponder all that is shipped into and out of our lives each day.

Curated by Jill Price

For more information about each of these artists visit http://www.questart.ca/upper-gallery-exhibitions


Other Exhibition Programming:

Atrium Gallery presents On the Move, January 12 – March 10, 2018
Project Gallery presents Mapping Surface and Beyond: Ginette Pelletier and Sue Street, January 12 – March 10, 2018 funded by Ontario Arts Council

Jill Price,MFA, OT
Curator
Quest Art School + Gallery
333 King street, Midland, Ontario, L4R 3M7
705-526-2787 (ARTS), jill@questart.ca


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