Looking back in honour of Durham Region Pride!

In 1972, Paul Bennett (Director, 1969 – 1972) was “asked” by the Board of Directors to resign because of his sexuality.

This is a part of the Gallery’s history we are not proud of. What we are proud of is how far we’ve come: that we have exhibitions that boldly address queer issues; that we can work closely with our queer community in developing relevant and required programming; that we support queer creatives and make space for their vibrancy.

This week is Pride in Durham Region. This week (and everyday) it’s important to live as proudly as you can, and support others as they do. We invite everyone to celebrate with us at RMG Fridays: Pride with live music from I. M. Brown & The Transcendents and film screenings, openings for new exhibitions, and much more.

Leila Timmins joins the RMG as Curator and Manager, Exhibitions and Collections

The Robert McLaughlin is excited to announce that Leila Timmins will be joining the Gallery as Manager and Curator, Exhibitions and Collections. In this new role, she will be replacing Linda Jansma who is retiring after 28 years at the gallery.

Previously Curator of Exhibitions and Public Programming at Gallery 44 in Toronto, Leila is dedicated to working with community to contribute to important conversations happening around and through art.

At Gallery 44, Timmins produced over 60 exhibitions and public programs with over 100 artists from across the country and abroad while working tirelessly to build the gallery’s audience and increase online engagement.

Accessibility is also an important part of Leila’s curatorial practice. Her work with Workman Arts, CAMH, Tangled Art + Disability, and numerous other groups and collectives has contributed to conversations around reducing barriers and increasing access.

“I am thrilled and honoured to be joining the team at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. I’ve long admired the way the RMG centres relationship-building at the core of its operation, working closely alongside artists and community. I look forward to continuing the important work the gallery has done to build greater accessibility, equality and inclusiveness into all aspects of its programming.” says Timmins

“We’re very excited to have Leila at the RMG and working in Durham Region. She was selected from a pool of candidates nationally and abroad because her passion for community building is determined, which is demonstrated in her impressive list of experiences and accomplishments. Get ready, Durham.” says Donna Raetsen-Kemp, CEO, of the new arrival.

Her writing has been published in notable publications including FUSE Magazine and C Magazine, and was awarded the Emerging Cultural Leader Award by Artist-Run Centres and Collectives of Ontario (ARCCO) in 2017.

Leila starts at the RMG on June 11.

An event everyone is welcome at – RMG Fridays: Pride

Recently, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery made the decision to step away from Pride Durham in organizing RMG Fridays: Pride.

The RMG is committed to building and maintaining safe and accessible space so that the arts can be shared and enjoyed with the entire community. We also works closely with members of our communities, representative organizations, and groups when developing programming and exhibitions to ensure we are meeting the needs of our community.

At a recent meeting held by Pride Durham, members of our queer and racialized communities came forward to express their concerns and explain their requirements for safe space, including their stance on uniformed police walking in the parade. Pride Durham made a decision to move forward with plans that oppose those needs. Doing so holds the potential to compromise safe space and excludes those voices from the upcoming celebration. This does not align with the RMG’s values.

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery believes Pride is a celebration of resistance and resilience, differences and the vibrancy that come with being queer. Though intimately linked at times, Pride is about finding yourself not your profession. We invite the entire community to come together, whether in celebration or support, as the people they were born as.

We also understand that the uniform may be viewed as a symbol of years of oppression and the enforcement of laws that oppress many queer and racialized peoples. While the police are invited to participate in plain clothes, the presence of uniforms may be a barrier to access for many.

We hope to work with Pride Durham in the future, in ways that are safe, respectful, and healing for the community.

To learn more about the upcoming RMG Fridays: Pride event click here.

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.