The Curator’s View: Revealing Spaces

Sonya Jones is the RMG’s assistant Curator and Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection. In this post she shares a reflection from artist Kate Wilhelm.

Revealing Spaces, is a current exhibition featuring three emerging Durham Region artists, Kate Wilhelm, Shaun Downey and Andrea Carvalho. One of the woman depicted in Kate Wilhelm’s photographs of derby girls sadly passed away just this past April. 

Here’s the artist’s reflection about Kiss My Ashlinn:


Kiss My Ashlinn
July 2, 1957 – April 5, 2012


She was in treatment when we first connected by email. We had to keep rescheduling visits because my family was a walking petrie dish all winter and her immune system was in no shape to protect her. If it wasn’t me suffering pinkeye, it was my six-year-old’s scratchy cough and runny nose or my baby’s diarrhea. When I finally managed to squeeze a visit in between illnesses, she told me her lung cancer was incurable. She also said she would skate again. “I just need to get off this damn oxygen, and then I will.” The way she said it, I believed her.

I photographed her and Thom just before Christmas. I was about to reschedule because I was still coughing, but she encouraged me to just wear a mask. She couldn’t keep her eyes off my baby, and she wrote me about a month later to tell me how much she enjoyed having him in her home. She had one granddaughter, whom she adored, and she couldn’t wait for more. 

I did see her once more, before she died, at a party. I hadn’t been expecting her or I’d have brought the copy of Spontaneous Healing I’d been meaning to give her for months. The book sat on the floor by my front door for ages so I wouldn’t forget. Around the end of March, I dreamed about her. I can’t remember now what happened in the dream, but I know I didn’t want to tell her the details. I think I dreamed she died before I gave her the book and I felt awful. I woke up determined to give it to her that week and thinking of another woman’s miraculous recovery from cancer. I tried to make a time to drop the book off, but she never replied. I found the silence ominous, and sure enough, 5 days later she had passed.


I only put the book back on my bookshelf a couple of weeks ago. As I type this, the mask I wore when I photographed her hangs on the window right next to me. I don’t know why I’m keeping it.

Revealing Spaces is on at the RMG until August 26.



Hot Topics – Artists Come Home to Durham Region

Hot Topics come from the desk of Jacquie Severs, Manager of Communications & Social Media

Durham Region is home to a multitude of artists, craftspeople, designers, and musicians. With a blossoming creative community gaining momentum, it is interesting to see artists and musicians who have moved to other communities return to their roots, even if for a brief visit.

Artists move for many reasons; post-secondary education, adventure, to seek new audiences, for love, for opportunity. Rare is an artist who stays in one place their whole career, though equally rare is an artist that doesn’t have a fondness, of one sort or another, for their home town.


Tonight the RMG officially opens Revealing Spaces, Curated by Sonya Jones, that is an exhibition of works by three artists who each have personal ties to Durham Region.  Andrea Carvalho spent her formative teen years in Uxbridge, where her parents still reside today, though she now lives and works in Montreal. Carvalho’s work is contemporary and highly conceptual installation work that explores space and human relationships within it.

Shaun Downey, Oshawa born-and-raised, paints portraits of people in his life, in spaces he inhabits, in incredible colour, light, and realism. His artistic practice is now located in Toronto, though his work has taken him as far abroad as the BP Portrait Gallery in London, England. Some of his works in this exhibition directly reference his former and current homes, for example his self portrait, titled Oshawa Shirt, Toronto Jacket. Shaun made a video promoting this exhibition: 


Kate Wilhelm, who grew up with her family in Orono, is a photographer who offers a glimpse at the public and private lives of the women of Roller Derby. Now living and working in Guelph, Kate’s photographs explore how public identity is constructed, while domestic private lives can present an entirely different picture.

Each artist’s work can be viewed within a concept of space; physical space, private space, public space, our relationship to spaces past and present, even our relationships to spaces we transition through.  The artists will be present tonight  (Friday 6 July, 2012) at the opening reception event for Revealing Spaces, held from 7 to 10pm as part of the monthly RMG Fridays event series.


Two bands are performing at the event, each with their own links to Durham Region. SPORTS are a four piece band that play out of Toronto, but members of the band grew up in Bowmanville. They play swirly pop-rock that some have compared to Fleetwood Mac or Flaming Lips. In addition, The Mark Inside, a four piece rock band originally from Whitby, but who are now based out of Toronto, are visiting the RMG event to play a set, bringing their rock and roll energy home again.


But what is the message of this return-to-roots story? I believe it is the creation of opportunity and the offering of inspiration. By creating spaces and venues for artists and musicians to return home to, we help to encourage our community development. We show that not only is there something to return for, but we also show that there is a world beyond our door step. For young artists this is an essential message; and in turn it encourages emerging local talent by providing motivation and a foundation for their careers.  

Can’t make it? Revealing Spaces is on at the RMG from July 6 to August 26.

Missed the bands? Follow them on facebook to stay up to date with their upcoming shows:

the mark inside