Tools of the Maker

Mel Beaulieu, Tools of the Maker, 2024, 11/0 seed beads on stiffened felt, Collection of the Owens Art Gallery, Commissioned and purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Blanche Peppard Art Acquisitions Fund. © Mel Beaulieu.

Tools of the Maker

Carrie Allison | Masato Arikushi | Mel Beaulieu | Arthur Brecken | Joyce Chown | Beth Mann Couillard | Jean Dixon | Marjory Rogers Donaldson | Margaret Harris Fraser | Betty Sawler Goble | John Hammond | Ursula Johnson | Wenda Lyons | Patricia Pollett McClelland | Margaret Fraser Murray | Ethel Ogden | Greta Ogden | Mary Pratt | Ellis Roulston | Dan Steeves | The Notman Studio | Ermine Thompson | Muriel Thompson

June 22 – October 20, 2024
Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University

Curators: Emily Falvey, Jane Tisdale

Tools of the Maker explores the relationship between artistic practice and craftsmanship through a selection of works and art tools from the Owens’ permanent collection. It is organized around a recent commission and acquisition: Tools of the Maker, by Mi’kmaw artist Mel Beaulieu. Made using traditional beading techniques, this intricate snapshot of the artist’s studio shows a work in progress surrounded by their tools, including jars of colourful beads, scissors, a pin cushion, and a smudge bowl. The landscape outside the window connects the creative process back to the gifts of the land, and offers a new perspective on traditional Indigenous creative practices in contemporary art.

Among the works on display is another important recent acquisition: the woodblocks carved by Japanese master printmaker Masato Arikushi for Mary Pratt’s print A Glow of Grapes on Garnet Glass, 2002 (part of the series Transformations, 1993-2002). This generous gift from the Pratt Family shows the labour and skill required to make this spectacular print. Of her nine-year creative exchange with Arikushi, Pratt once wrote, “I found an artisan who understood my ideas so well that he needed little input from me once he had studied the paintings I provided. Gradually his own ideas melded with my original images, and I detected his own imagery inserting itself into my own. I liked that. It all fit.”

Drawing from both the historical and contemporary collections, the exhibition also includes works associated with the Mount Allison Ladies’ College, the Mount Allison Fine Arts Department, and the Applied Arts Program (1906-1960). These works further explore the techniques, labour, and materials required to make art objects through the display of an array of tools, including cancelled intaglio plates, silver jewellery making tools, porcelain pigments, design sketches, textile graphs, and photographic sources. These materials are displayed alongside the final works they were used to create, and they show a variety of behind-the-scenes fine and applied arts processes.

We would like to acknowledge that the Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University, is located within the traditional territory of Mi’kma’ki, the unceded ancestral homelands of the Mi’kmaq. Our relationship and our privilege to live on this territory was agreed upon in the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1725 to 1752. Because of this treaty relationship, it is to be acknowledged that we are all Treaty People and have a responsibility to respect this territory.

Owens Art Gallery
Mount Allison University
61 York Street Sackville, NB, E4L 1E1 • 506-364-2574
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Vimeo

Monday to Friday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Admission is Free

The Owens is partially accessible. The stairs from the entrance nearest the University Chapel have a handrail. There is also ramp access at this entrance, however, the ramp is steep. The stairs to the entrance off York Street have a handrail, but no ramp, and are covered with temporary wood treads. The main floor of the Owens is wheelchair accessible. Our second-floor gallery and gendered bathrooms are located in the basement and are not accessible. Two flights of stairs lead to each of these floors. LED lights are used throughout the building. The Owens welcomes guide dogs and other service animals. The closest accessible parking spaces are located on York Street across from the Owens. For detailed information on venue access, please visit our Accessibility page. If you would like to visit the Owens at a quieter time, or when all staff and visitors are masked, private visits can be arranged from 9:00-10:00 am on weekdays.

If you have any questions about your visit, please email or call (506) 364-2574.