“Does that give you any insight on the unifying theme?” asked Nate, a writer for Rooms Magazine. He asked me because I’m Canadian and thought I might have a bit more of an understanding of the pieces Creative Saskatchewan and curator Adrian Stimson brought to London.

Creative Saskatchewan, Leah Dorian, Dancing Women. Marcia Chikeness, Residential School Baby

The cradleboard, Residential School Baby by Marcia Chikeness, caught my eye. I explained that the residential school era was a horrific time in Canada’s history so I found it interesting to see one embellished with rhinestones. It wasn’t the only work juxtaposing the ugly with the beautiful, the past with the present.

Small Pox and Tuberculosis, pieces by Ruth Cuthand, challenges views on the relationship between European settlers and Natives in Canada.

Ruth Cuthand pieces, Blackall Studios, London, Creative Saskatchewan
Small Pox and Tuberculosis to the left

Sherry Luther, Export and Industry Development Manager of Creative Saskatchewan, said these were some of her favourites. It’s “the beauty that you can see and the horror at the same time.” Smallpox and tuberculosis were two of the diseases that wiped out populations of Aboriginal, but Cuthand represents them using glass beads onto canvas.

There is a postcolonial theme to many of the pieces but most of what it has in common is that the artists are from Saskatchewan.

Adrian Stimson, Creative Saskatchewan, Blackall Studios, London
Adrian Stimson

Adrian Stimson curated the work, travelling around Saskatchewan to meet with artists. He wanted to show “Metissage, the mixing of Saskatchewan.” The works show artists playing with masculinity of the farm, using landscapes (a staple of Canadian art), and commenting on postcolonialism and the disappearance of small farms in the Prairies.

“Saskatchewan has a strong history and tradition of finding and creating strong artists,” Stimson said. “To be able to work with these artists…it was an honour.”

The show is headed to Bilbao, Spain, SOFA in Chicago, and the Lakebox Gallery in New York. Essentially, this exhibition is here to promote the artists and the creativity that comes out of Saskatchewan. Creative Saskatchewan is an independent Crown agency developed to bring in more support for art and culture in Saskatchewan.

“There was a need to move and help them [artists] market and sell their work,” said Luther. “We want to put money in the pocket of the artists and make it a viable occupation.”

Engine on Chair, Clint Neufeld, Blackall Studios, London, Creative Saskatchewan
Engine on Chair, Clint Neufeld

The organization also helps artists secure grants and other aid to continue enriching Canada and the world with Saskatchewanian art.

The unifying theme at this exhibition is diversity, representative of Saskatchewan itself. Stimson wanted to show the the breadth of skill and variety of styles in Saskatchewanian art: from stone carvings to traditional weaving, from inkjet photography to oil painting.

“It’s a province you’ve probably never heard of, but you will,” said J.P. Ellson, CEO of Creative Saskatchewan.

All of the pieces in Creative Saskatchewan London are for sale throughout the exhibitions and you can have a look at all of the work at Blackall Studios in Shoreditch from October 14, 2014 until October 18, 2014, from 11:00AM – 6:00PM daily. Creative Saskatchewan will also be hosting ancillary cultural events and concerts around London.

Blackall Studios

73A Leonard Street

Shoreditch

EC2A 4QS

Free

 

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