Petrina Ng: Distant water will not quench a nearby fire

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Petrina Ng: Distant water will not quench a nearby fire opens March 13 at the Textile Museum of Canada

For the past three months, Toronto-based artist Petrina Ng has been in residence at the Textile Museum of Canada. Through research at the H.N. Puller Library at the Museum, community consultations, and artist collaboration, Ng has developed an umbrella of programming that looks at legacies of colonialism both abroad from a diasporic perspective and locally, investigating the Museum’s own colonial histories. These important conversations will continue to inform the Museum’s work.


Distant water will not quench a nearby fire
Artist project by Petrina Ng
Exhibition Dates: March 13–April 12, 2020
Opening Reception: Friday March 13, 5-8pm
With contributions by Amy Lam, Serena Lee, Morris Lum, Amy Wong, and Florence Yee
A personal essay by Amy Lam accompanies the exhibition

“How do we navigate feelings of confusion, anxiety, and grief when confronting political violence in a distant motherland? Distant water will not quench a nearby fire is a new project that looks at diasporic experiences of Hong Kong’s colonial histories and ongoing political unrest.

In 1997, Hong Kong’s sovereignty was transferred from the United Kingdom back to the People’s Republic of China after over 150 years of colonial rule. Taking cue from a popular souvenir t-shirt commemorating the event, I have invited five diasporic artists to create bootlegs of the original design, re-appropriating dominant narratives of sovereignty and cultural identity.” –Petrina Ng

Souped Up: Collective Pot
Marsya Maharani & Geneviève Wallen
Friday January 31, 2020

“Souped Up! is a thematic dinner series conceived as a way to carve space for care and support building among curators and cultural workers who identify as people of colour, Black, and Indigenous. We hope to deepen our commitment to work beyond scarcity mentality and towards new collaborative models; to mobilize, advocate for, and build up one another; to dismantle hegemonic ideas of power dynamics, leadership models, winning culture; and to learn together.” –Marsya Maharani & Geneviève Wallen

Friends of Chinatown Toronto Fund
Artist project by Petrina Ng
March 2020

“For the month of March, I have allocated part of my residency’s budget towards supporting community advocacy group, Friends of Chinatown Toronto (FOCT). Acknowledging the Museum’s implicit role in Old Dundas Chinatown’s gentrification, this is an experiment exploring how artists can facilitate a re-direction of institutional funds outward towards neighbourhood housing and anti-displacement advocacy. I’ve asked the Museum to consider continuing to support this project after my residency ends, to commit to relationship-building with local communities outside of the context of thematic exhibition programming.” –Petrina Ng

To learn more about the work of FOCT, follow @FriendsofChinatownTO or subscribe to the FOCT newsletter.

Land Acknowledgment Workshop for Immigrants
Initiated by curator and writer Belinda Kwan
Saturday March 28, 2020 1–4pm
FREE. All welcome.

“This collaborative writing workshop will bring together voices and languages from Indigenous, diasporic, immigrant, and refugee communities to learn about the complicated histories we sustain with the land upon which we live. Proposed as a methodology for complimenting conversations about Settler-Indigenous relationships, we will consider how immigrant communities both experience and proliferate environmental violence.” –Belinda Kwan & Petrina Ng


Petrina Ng is the inaugural artist to participate in the Textile Museum of Canada’s Creative in Residence program, which provided the space, resources, and context to develop this new work. This program is generously supported by a Seed Grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Ng is an artist and cultural organizer. Her practice looks at diasporic loss and legacy, and the ways colonial histories continue to impact us in subtle or invisible ways. She was recently an artist in residence at the Scarborough Museum, invited by Aisle 4 curatorial collective. Ng has studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and the University of Toronto. She has previously worked with and for many cultural institutions and continues to advocate for equity, representation, and accessibility within the sector.

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The Textile Museum of Canada has been exploring ideas and building cultural understanding through the universal medium of textiles since 1975. Connecting international textile traditions to contemporary art and design, this national museum is one of Canada’s most engaging arts institutions, welcoming thousands of visitors from across the country and around the world each year. The Museum’s permanent collection spans 2,000 years and consists of over 15,000 artifacts from about 200 countries and regions, uniquely positioning the Museum to speak to global culture as well as our increasingly global communities. A leader in the digitization of collections and interactive environments, the Textile Museum of Canada is recognized for its innovation in the development of landmark educational, research, and creative initiatives.

Image: graphic by Petrina Ng

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