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Sonya Jones, Curator of Collections, stands before stored works by Painters 11.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Q&A with Sonya Jones, Curator of Collections

Sonya Jones, previously Associate Curator, is now taking on a new role at the Gallery as Curator of Collections. In this new role, Sonya will lead the management, care and exhibition of the RMG’s collections, including the Permanent Collection, Thomas Bouckley Collection, and library and archives.

What is it that you love about working with the collections?

I love sharing the collection with the community, whether that’s through exhibitions, tours or our online database. I also love collecting and sharing stories about each work – it gives you a whole different perspective and appreciation. While curating is definitely the highlight of my job, I absolutely love collections management. I’m lucky I get to do both. Also, it never gets old walking into the vault!

In your opinion, what makes our collections special?

While we have a huge variety of artwork, historical, contemporary, mediums, styles etc, the part of the collection that sets it apart from other permanent collections is the large number of Painters Eleven we have, over 1,000 works. We have visitors come specifically to see Painters Eleven, for example just this week we had someone come all the way from Halifax just to see works by Painters Eleven.

In your new role, what do you look to do with the collection exhibitions?

I’m looking forward to connecting with our community through the collection and finding new ways for public engagement.

Do you have a favorite piece in the Permanent Collection? In The Thomas Bouckley Collection? Why?

Joseph Sydney Hallam (Canadian, 1899 - 1953); Rainy Weekend; 1946; oil on masonite; Gift of Paul Hallam, 2002

Joseph Sydney Hallam (Canadian, 1899 – 1953); Rainy Weekend; 1946; oil on masonite; Gift of Paul Hallam, 2002

It’s so hard to choose just one! There are too many amazing works to choose from. I tend to have weekly favourites. One that I recently came across that left an impression was Joseph Sydney Hallam’s Rainy Weekend. This resonated with me because I saw it right after the most recent ice storm, which was a weekend where my family was stuck indoors. Despite grumbling at first, we soon took full advantage of spending quality time together. Like in Rainy Weekend, there’s a comfort and feeling of home just being together even if you are just in the same room doing your own thing. The weather forced us all to slow down, be present and be together. So that was that week’s favourite!

For the Bouckley Collection, I’ve always been drawn to the candid images, the ones that capture a moment rather than posed. For example, one of people walking down King Street during road construction. The majority of the photographs in the collection were taken for documentation purposes, so the candid photographs are extra rare and special.