Community News

Gallery A

September 2nd, 2014

Things are changing around here.

As some of you may have heard, we’re undergoing renovations right now and one of the biggest changes is the creation of Gallery A.

Aileen’s Legacy

The space is named for one of our major funders,  the Aked Endowment, which was created from funds donated by the late artist Elizabeth Aileen Aked, who lived in Tyrone, Ontario. Aileen and her parents frequently traveled between Tyrone, Bermuda, Florida and England and Aileen documented every moment of it. Throughout the spring, I worked with Christine our Special Projects Assistant, to go through Aileen’s archive which totaled over 10 banker boxes filled with a lifetime of slides, photographs and 16mm films. (Aileen’s gift also included her 1928 Kodak Kodascope, which was lovingly restored to full working order by Pickering Audio Visual). The films, which date as far back is the early 1920’s,  are probably my favourite – these rich black and white silent films, depict her and her family on long rambling road trips in their classic antique Buick, pet parrot in tow. The films include scenic vistas of Gaspe, a road trip to Banff National Park, road-side picnics and sun-filled summer swims.


During all of these trips, Aileen spent a lot of her time painting, and she was an accomplished painter. As an artist, her donation to The Robert McLaughlin Gallery was quite purposeful – she wanted the endowment to support local artists in their professional development and provide opportunities for them to advance their practice.

A Place for Artists

In addition to being the Manager of Public Programs here at the RMG, I’m also an artist and when I came into this position almost 2 years ago, we started thinking about how best to achieve Aileen’s vision. I know that for myself, professional spaces to exhibit are not easy to come by and are often programmed far in advance. I’m always looking for opportunities (and space!) to experiment with new ideas and work with large materials and I want more opportunities to talk with other artists critically about my work.

After surveying and speaking with local artists, the concept of Gallery A was born. We decided to keep the use of the space flexible, to allow artists options in how they wanted to use it. I am imagining most will want to use it for solo or group exhibitions, but there is room for creativity, and thinking outside of the box. We also set up the Art Lab artist residency program so artists can use the space for experimentation, collaborations, new directions and this will hopefully lead to some new exciting work.  Gallery A artists will be invited to give public lectures and tours, and we’ll be hosting a slew of professional development workshops, including grant writing, documenting your work, peer-to-peer feedback sessions and hands-on studio retreats.

The letter A is a starting point.  It represents a new beginning, and a priority.

It represents our commitment to supporting local artists, which are at the center of Durham Region’s arts community. It all starts with artists. Gallery A can be a starting place for emerging artists as a new generation emerges from Durham Collage’s Fine Arts program. It can be a place for established artists, to exhibit their work, collaborate with peers, and perhaps even take some risks. And it can be a meeting place for communities to work with artists to engage in the arts in ways they had never imagined before. The possibilities for the space are wide open – all you have to do is get started.


Information Sessions:

Thursday 18 September 7pm

Sunday 19 October, 1pm


To find out more and to access the guidelines and application form, please follow this link:

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