I entered the facility to a quiet, eerie ambience of electronic and jazz music. I looked around the room, and noticed minimalist and abstract works of art; each highlighting a criticism of everyday life through the use of collage, found objects, and almost jagged, and disorienting shapes. A quick scan around the room left me with an overwhelming feeling of discomfort, but in a way that provoked a sense of freedom.
Jon Lockyer, Artspace’s director and curator soon greeted me. We sat down to chat about Artspace’s general vision, and place within the artistic culture of Peterborough.
We sat in the office type area located directly behind the walls of the exhibition room. The room had a feeling of progress, with papers, and art materials scattered around this eclectic workspace. Beside me sat two seafood ramen bowls (the meal of artistic inspiration), and Jon began to tell me about Artspace, and its vision.
Artspace’s beginnings are just as much about the artists themselves, as they are about the community that said artists reside in. Artspace was created as space for up-and-coming and established artists to present their work in a variety of disciplines, and to a variety of people.
Artspace was founded in 1974. Artists themselves run the venue, which presents a vibe of community and support. Their mission statement is one of advocacy. Not only do they exist to provide a space for artists to present their work, but also as a place of assistance, mentorship, and critique.
They will give you a space to present your work, but also, a place to get your work looked at, by people that are actually invested in the progress of art on a local level.
Their mission statements, which can be found on their website, include topics as the fight for artistic rights, leadership, critical investigation, and dialogue. Artspace is not your typical art gallery. There is not a theme of pretension, or academia there, but rather an atmosphere of inclusiveness, and necessity. Their pairings with many local businesses, artist, musicians, and even Trent University itself fosters the creation of the contemporary art that line its walls, and provides a place for presentation.
Their exhibition on display right now is entitled: ‘Sometimes the Story is Obvious.’ This exhibition is concerned with personal stories, and experience through the realm of craft. Each piece tells a story that is contained with the materiality of the objects involved, and the story that physicality gives to the actual objects.
Carolyn Code, Brette Gabel, and Sarah Gibeault, although assumingly not working together, create a trifecta of experience, and nostalgia that is highlighted by the depiction of everyday objects held in stagnation. I also got an overwhelming notion of the inaccuracy of memory by some of the pieces.
The next event, which opens on January 16th, is an exhibition on the Central East Correctional Facility (Lindsay’s super jail), and concerns itself with the theme of confinement, and authority.
With the ongoing debate on refugees, this showcase is of the utmost importance (considering that the Lindsay jail is detaining a large number of immigrants). This exhibition opens in the coming month, and is presented by Artspace, and Artist Sheena Hoszko.
Overall, Artspace’s role in Peterborough is one of support, and conversation. They engage with artists, and introduce a discourse between different artists, mediums, and subject matter. Artspace is a place where artists can feel comfortable stepping out of their comfort soon, and can seek out help from other artists.
They also can engage with artists of other mediums, and critics in order to better themselves, their work, and the world around them. Artspace is a place of inclusion, and is truly where the artist can thrive.