The Art Gallery of Burlington (AGB) is celebrating its fortieth anniversary with an intimate and personal retrospective exhibition titled, The Weight of Clay 40 Years of the Collection, running from June 16th to October 8th in the Lee-Chin Family Gallery. The exhibition represents a broad selection of work in the collection, ranging from functional ware to sculptural installations that illustrate the intersection of technical proficiency and artistic expression, from artists from across the country.
Over the last forty years, the AGB has amassed the largest comprehensive collection of contemporary Canadian ceramics in the world, totaling more than 4,000 works. The Weight of Clay exhibition and programming series honours the artists, curators, educators, volunteers, and donors who have built the gallery’s holdings and contributed to the intellectual growth of ceramics in the country.
“The Art Gallery of Burlington is paying homage to our Ruby anniversary by acknowledging our unique past and celebrating our tremendous success within contemporary Canadian ceramics.” says Suzanne Carte, Senior Curator. “Our previous exhibition titled, The Weight of Clay, From Collector to Collection, championed our beginnings with the 1984 Herbert O. Bunt donation which aided in establishing the focus of our collection. Now we are acknowledging the testimonials, stories, archives, and energies of the artists, curators, gallery staff, collectors, committee members, and clay communities who have, over the decades, demonstrated that the collection truly is a sum of its parts.”
At the centre of the exhibition is the selection of forty works by forty artists representing each year of the AGB’s history. Looking at the archive of work from 1983 to 2023, the AGB’s Curator Emeritus, Jonathan Smith, compiled a chronological timeline of works illustrating the growth of the collection. From Jim Hong Louie to Brendan Lee Satish Tang, the assembly of works reflects a history of burgeoning techniques and acknowledges each artist’s contribution to the rise of clay in the country.
Functional forms are also in the spotlight. Unifying technical proficiency with beauty, this selection of works is drawn from two subsections of the collection, mugs and place settings, which showcase the diversity of form and aesthetics that can derive from the execution of single functional object.
The Dan Lawrie Courtyard, an architectural feature, is the centre around which the building’s energy circulates. For decades, artists have been commissioned to dream in the outdoor space and create site-specific installations here. Many of the artworks taken into the collection were from the courtyard commission, including those from Sally Michener, Susan Low-Beer, Sarah Link, Aleksandr Sorotschynski and Magdolene Dykstra, which have been reinstalled for The Weight of Clay.
In most collecting institutions, only a fraction of what they hold makes its way out of the vault to be on view at a time. Throughout the building’s corridors we are debuting some of the newest acquisitions, to celebrate their addition to the Canadian ceramic narrative at the AGB and to ensure that they have their moment to shine.
The exhibition’s public programming series will feature hands-on workshops and courses for clay artists to build a greater personal connection to their craft and experience professional growth by learning new techniques, discovering other artists’ practices, and understanding contemporary art in greater depth. A digital program with panel discussions and artist talks will accompany the series to transport the exhibition to national and international audiences.
The Weight of Clay 40 Years of the Collection
June 16–October 8, 2023
Art Gallery of Burlington
1333 Lakeshore Rd., Burlington, ON L7S 1A9
Lee-Chin Family Gallery, Dan Lawrie Courtyard, and corridors
Members, Media, and VIP Preview: Thursday, June 15, 5:30–6:30pm
Public Opening: Thursday, June 15, 6:30–8:00pm
Regular Hours: Tuesday & Wednesday: 10 AM – 9 PM, Thursday to Sunday: 10 AM – 5 PM
For full programming details, visit HERE.
1333 Lakeshore Rd
Burlington , Canada
About Art Gallery of Burlington
The Art Gallery of Burlington is Burlington’s public art gallery and community centre. We are a place of intersection where creators, cultures and communities meet and share in the wealth of human creativity.