home

profile

contact

news

press


‘Piece by Piece’

 

The Gardiner Museum, Toronto, Canada.

4th October 2014 - 4th January 2015

 

KELVIN BROWNE, Executive Director & CEO Gardiner Museum

 

If you see an exhibition of an artist’s work, and like it, or love it, you look forward to his or her next exhibition, confident you’ll be delighted again. Or enlightened, shocked, or otherwise stimulated. The tantalizing aspect is you expect the next not exactly to be what engaged you before, but something new that continues the conversation. However, there’s a different kind of excitement, and some degree of worry, when you’re a museum director and you a commission a work. What will it be? Will it be like something that connected you with the artist in the first place, or like the work of someone you don’t know, or appreciate? And the risk of the unknown intensifies when the artist is known to respond differently in each situation when creating new work in context, be it a different museum or corresponding to a specific collection.

 

So it was with the work of Clare Twomey, and her installation Piece by Piece, at the Gardiner Museum. It was a commission of the unpredictable. Having been enthralled with Clare Twomey’s work at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, it was exciting to have her agree to create a work responding to the Gardiner Museum’s collections to mark the Gardiner Museum’s thirtieth anniversary. The realization came later that it wasn’t necessarily going to be something similar to what we’d see before but more likely something new, and quite intrinsic to us. How comfortable we are with art that is within parameters, even art that is radical but has become predictably radical through exposure to a consistent style or intent. How exciting, and terrifying, the truly new can be, and a commission like the one Clare accepted. If you see an exhibition of an artist’s work, and like it, or love it, you look forward to his or her next exhibition, confident you’ll be delighted again. Or enlightened, shocked, or otherwise stimulated. The tantalizing aspect is you expect the next not exactly to be what engaged you before, but something new that continues the conversation. However, there’s a different kind of excitement, and some degree of worry, when you’re a museum director and you a commission a work. What will it be? Will it be like something that connected you with the artist in the first place, or like the work of someone you don’t know, or appreciate? And the risk of the unknown intensifies when the artist is known to respond differently in each situation when creating new work in context, be it a different museum or corresponding to a specific collection. So it was with the work of Clare Twomey, and her installation Piece by Piece, at the Gardiner Museum. It was a commission of the unpredictable.

 

Having been enthralled with Clare Twomey’s work at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, it was exciting to have her agree to create a work responding to the Gardiner Museum’s collections to mark the Gardiner Museum’s thirtieth anniversary. The realization came later that it wasn’t necessarily going to be something similar to what we’d see before but more likely something new, and quite intrinsic to us. How comfortable we are with art that is within parameters, even art that is radical but has become predictably radical through exposure to a consistent style or intent. How exciting, and terrifying, the truly new can be, and a commission like the one Clare accepted.

 

Even in a museum with wonderful permanent collections, the new is the essential ingredient to keep the permanent galleries alive, be it the new from rotation of the objects, a change in interpretation, or the appearance of an intervention. The new, created in conversation with the existing, puts it in the midst of a history, and simultaneously makes what is familiar unexpected, and suddenly, unfamiliar. How extraordinary to have the blood of creation pumped through the veins of our Museum by Piece by Piece.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Clare Twomey conjures ghosts for Toronto’s Gardiner Museum JAMES ADAMS
The Globe and Mail
published Thursday, Oct. 02 2014

 

There are ghosts on the third floor of Toronto’s Gardiner Museum of ceramic art, white, silent, frozen in mid-gesture, eerie. More than 2,000 of them, in fact, with at least another thousand to be conjured in the next three months.

 

The ghosts are the creation of noted British ceramist Clare Twomey, 46, whom the museum has commissioned to help mark its 30th anniversary by preparing a “performative installation” called Piece by Piece.Opening Saturday to coincide with Nuit Blanche, the installation, a Canadian first for Twomey, takes its inspiration from the commedia dell’arte porcelain figurines in the Gardiner’s permanent collection, in particular a 1755 German Harlequin, a 1760 Leda, also German, and an Italian-made Scaramouche from 1770.

 

Twomey has positioned multiple unpainted, rather rough iterations of these characters in various “narratives” – dramas of dance, destruction, love, violence, failure and celebration – within a 14-by-14-metre “frame” on the Gardiner’s dimly lit floor. A visitor circulates the Lilliputian contents as he would the perimeter of an Italian piazza. Mounted on separate lofty plinths, are the exquisite Leda and the two male companions Twomey used as source models. To their north there’s a table covered with moulds, tools and powders where weekdays until exhibition’s close on Jan. 4 artisan-performers will quietly make additional Harlequins, Scaramouches et al. for installation.

 

“The idea is that it’s a place where you forget where you are; it’s magical, enchanted,” Gardiner curator Rachel Gotlieb says.