Permanent Collection of Art
Many significant changes have occurred in the area of the collection in the last five years, the very positive ramifications of which will shape and improve the collection for many years to come.
The main role of the permanent collection to date has been to represent, protect and make available to the public and to other institutions regionally significant works. ‘Regionally significant works’ has been interpreted as works by artists resident in or visitors to the region, or the works may be linked to the area through subject matter or provenance. This role continues to be pivotal for the collection, and unique in its capacity for comprehensiveness and depth. As a result the Collection is a meaningful repository of regional works which reflects aspects or parts of the community back to itself.
With severe limitations on safe storage space, collection guidelines until 1999 restricted acquisitions in terms of size and dimensions. But as of 2000, the recognition of the strength of the collection in the area of land and landscape, and the imminent move to a new facility with vastly expanded, environmentally sound and secure storage space, led to the decision to broaden collection guidelines to include three-dimensional, multi-media and installation works, both from the region and outside. Building on the collection’s strength in land and landscape provides direction for acquiring contemporary works from outside the region. Widening the parameters of size and media allows us to more accurately reflect the production of regionally significant work..
Highlights of the early collection which illustrate the emphasis on subject matter of land and landscape, to which recent and planned acquisitions of contemporary art respond, include the Kathleen Daly/George Pepper estate of 80 oil paintings and drawings executed in south eastern Alberta, and paintings by H.G. Glyde, Takao Tanabe and Illingworth Kerr.
Recently several large acquisitions served to bolster the collection as a full representation of regionally significant art works: the William Stewart collection is comprised of over 100 drawings, prints and paintings spanning the full length of his career and includes many of the original printing woodblocks; three bodies of work by Edmonton-based photographer Orest Semchishen significantly expand our holdings of contemporaryCanadian photography (many of which were featured in the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography exhibition, In Plain View/Voir Clair), and the 8 paintings and watercolours by Luke Lindoe which initiated the collection in 1981, have recently been augmented by an estate donation of 26 ceramic pieces, 14 sculptures and 5 watercolours.
While numerous other acquisitions of regionally significant works have taken place recently, with the expansion of allowable dimensions and media we have been able to strengthen our representation of contemporary media and approaches: for instance,Rory Mahony’s Physis, a large format Light Jet Duraflex print which draws together ideas around baroque collections and personal histories; Martin Bennett’s oil on canvas, Static Painting/2nd Variation/Red/River/St. Patrick’s Church; Which subtly explores the history of landscape painting and souvenir snap-shot photography; and Deborah Forbes’ Durafilm print, Infanta Margarita/Jonbenet Ramsay Fusion, which takes as its subject the long tradition of political/economical use and abuse of children in western history.
Initial steps in the direction of acquiring national and international contemporary works about land and landscape were taken with the acquisition of a photographic assemblage piece by Newfoundland artist Marlene Creates, from the body of work entitled Language and Land Use, Alberta 1993, and Saskatchewan artist Marsha Kennedy’s Setting IX, an oil on board/glass etching work from the seriesStilled Lives. Recently, other such acquisitions include an untitled encaustic work by Alan Harding MacKay, Susan Detwiler’s Bronco, a cast aluminium and rubber sculpture from the Roadkill series, and Angela Inglis’ mixed media, 18 part three dimensional work, General Ideas. Mark Gomes’ large photographic/steel piece The Lion’s Share was recently transferred to the Collection from the Canada Council Art Bank, for installation in the Esplanade.
The development of the Collection of Art will include national and international contemporary art which takes as its subject the complex interplay between land, nature, the environment, and human action and interaction. The Collection will continue to reinforce regionally significant holdings with contemporary works which are the product of rigorous artistic exploration.
Documentation of works in the collection consists of informational entries maintained in our database, along with colour images of the work. Other documentation internally includes publications on the artists whose work is collected, ranging from pamphlets to catalogues. The collection is fully available for research and loans to public institutions. Works can be viewed on line through the database, or in house (by appointment), and inquiries can be made by mail, email or telephone. Collection database entries can and have been saved to disk for, or
emailed to, off-site researchers.