Dream Islands

Lari Robson Jug
Dream Islands
Sonnet L’Abbé, Derya Akay, Vanessa Brown, Maggie Groat, Yuki Kimura, Anne Low, Lari Robson
Join us for the opening reception on July 20, 7 pm
July 21 - September 17
Curated by Jesse Birch and Emma Metcalfe Hurst
Dream Islands is a group exhibition that takes the work of late Salt Spring Island-based potter Lari Robson (1942-2012) as a central point of inspiration. The exhibition features Robson’s pottery alongside new artworks by Derya Akay, Vanessa Brown, Maggie Groat, Yuki Kimura, and Anne Low, with writing by Sonnet L’Abbé that navigate islands of the imagination through intersections between art and craft practices.
As a creator of refined and useful pottery, Robson maintained a devoted and humble practice as an island potter. He sold vases, mugs, tea bowls, lidded jars, casseroles, jugs, serving bowls and other dishware every Saturday at the Salt Spring Island Farmers Market. He made personal and lasting relationships with his patrons and his community, and his pottery continues to be used and treasured in many households on Saltspring Island and beyond.
In December 2016, Nanaimo Art Gallery received a generous donation of ceramics from the estate of Victoria-based Curator and Art Historian Diane Carr (1941-2016) which included a unique stoneware jug made by Robson in the 1970s. Jugs are inherently social objects: they constantly empty themselves out through the act of giving. This spirit of reciprocity became a guiding inspiration for the exhibition. 
For the occasion of Dream Islands each participating artist was gifted a pot of Robson’s to live with, and reflect on while creating new works for the exhibition. Through a variety of different media including weaving, metalwork, and blown glass the artists employ the materials and labours of craft, but as contemporary artworks, these creations avoid the burden of use. The artworks will be on display in dialogue with a selection of Robson’s pots borrowed from personal and private collections of his patrons, friends, and family, now also liberated from their daily use through new social and aesthetic encounters shared in the gallery. 
On August 27, in dialogue with Dream Islands, we present a special event on Saysutshun (Newcastle Island), an island park on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nations located fifteen minutes away from the Nanaimo Art Gallery in the Nanaimo harbour. Titled Island Dreams this event inverts Dream Islands by offering an embodied and communal experience of the physical space on an island, while encountering performances, poetry readings, and temporary installations by Tent Shop, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Gabi Dao, Tiziana La Melia, Sonnet L’Abbé with an introduction to Saysutshun by Snuneymuxw artist and storyteller Celestine Aleck. 
These projects are presented as a part of Nanaimo Art Gallery’s celebration of our 40th anniversary in 2017. All year, through exhibitions, special projects, education programs and events, we explore the question “What does it mean to live on an Island?”
Image: Stoneware jug with tenmoku glaze, Lari Robson, circa 1970s
Emma Metcalfe Hurst's curatorial internship at Nanaimo Art Gallery is funded by an Early Career Development grant through the British Columbia Arts Council.
Maggie Groat would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council.


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