Bonavista Biennale Launching Art on the Edge

Art on the Edge will give visitors to the Bonavista Peninsula an understanding of the cultural context that surrounds the area’s striking physical landscape while also imbuing the installation sites with new layers of meaning. 

The inaugural Bonavista Biennale, a multi-venue contemporary visual art exhibition, will launch on August 17that the Ye Matthew Legacy Centre in Bonavista.

This year’s exhibition is titled Art on the Edge and features work by 26 local, Canadian, and Indigenous artists displayed in unique sites all over the Bonavista Peninusla.

Curators Patricia Grattan and Catherine Beaudette chose work from a broad spectrum of established and emerging artists for the month-long exhibition.

“This is a rare opportunity to present Newfoundland and Labrador artists’ work in the context of a national exhibition organized here in their home province…” said Grattan.

During the Bonavista Biennale, visual art will be displayed at 24 indoor and outdoor sites, many of which are unconventional spaces for viewing art. Some of these locations include the salt fish plant in Catalina, the Old Post Office in Port Rexton, and a root cellar in Elliston, along with outdoor venues like a beach in Knight’s Cove and a dramatic lookout in Maberly.

“As a curator, I also am excited by our experiment with an unusual format: a large multi-site exhibition in diverse non-gallery spaces spread through communities across a rural area,” Grattan said, “Artworks we chose or commissioned reflect contemporary issues and practices but also relate to the area’s history, environment and culture…”

Many of the artists participating in Art on the Edge explore the concept of place in their work. One example is sculptor Omar Badrin, a transracial adoptee who grew up in Newfoundland where his appearance caused him to be perceived as an outsider.He uses his lived experience to examine race and cultural identity through a series of sculptural, crotched masks.

Will Gill’s Biennale piece, The Green Chair also investigates place through sculpture. The piece is a site-specific steel sculpture of the type of wooden chair commonly found in Newfoundland kitchens. The piece will overlook the ocean, where it will be bathed in fluctuating light, wind, and water.

Pam Hall’s contribution to Art on the Edge also uses a site-specific outdoor installation to look at our relationship with the environment. Her piece, tentatively titled Re-Seeding the Dream East is a return to her 1997 piece about the cod moratorium, Re-Seeding the Dream. For the original piece she made 150 fish-shaped windsocks and installed them in a field of growing winter wheat in Lethbridge, Alberta.

Hall’s new piece is simultaneously “calling the cod fish home” and honouring their historical abundance in the Bonavista area. She invites Bonavista residents to visit the installation and share local expertise and experiences.

Art on the Edge will give visitors to the Bonavista Peninsula an understanding of the cultural context that surrounds the area’s striking physical landscape while also imbuing the installation sites with new layers of meaning.

“Bonavista Biennale is a unique opportunity to experience contemporary art embedded in the existing cultural context of rural Newfoundland: art on the edge, on the beach, in fish stores, root cellars, community halls and historical buildings,” said Beaudette.

A program of free workshops and talks will run concurrently with the Bonavista Binenale. To see the full schedule of events visit: https://bonavistabiennale.com/events

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