Arts·Gallery Tour

Galleries have been closed for weeks — so we asked curators about the artworks they miss most

Curator Mireille Eagan takes us on a walk through The Rooms in St. John's, NL to launch our new series Scenes from an Exhibition.

We're launching our new series Scenes from an Exhibition with a walk through The Rooms in St. John's, NL

Curator Mireille Eagan takes us on a walk through The Rooms in St. John's, NL to launch our new series Scenes from an Exhibition. 3:55

In our new series Scenes from an Exhibition, Canada's top curators showcase some of their favourite works from exhibitions that were closed off to the public due to COVID-19.

Among the countless institutions affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are art galleries and museums, which have been forced to shut down to stop the spread of the coronavirus. This means exhibits that have been years in the making have been left hanging, unseen — and museum-goers have been missing out on that crucial opportunity for quiet contemplation in our screen-addled times.  

In our new self-shot video series Scenes from an Exhibition, we've asked curators to bring some of these exhibits right into your home —virtually, of course — and walk you through various pieces that hold particular significance for them. In our first video, Mireille Eagan, curator of contemporary art at The Rooms in St. John's, hand-picks three of her favourite works from that explore isolation in different ways. 

Façade, Northern Peninsula, 2009 by Ned Pratt. Digital photograph — pigment-based archival print 152.4 x 152.4 cm. (Ned Pratt/The Rooms)

Mireille shows us work from two Newfoundland-based artists, Ned Pratt and Rhonda Pelley. Pratt's Façade, Northern Peninsula represents isolation through a barren, hard landscape, while Pelley's White Horses examines the sadness and lack of control that isolation may bring. 

White Horses, 2017 by Rhonda Pelley. Digital image on paper 116.84 x 82.55. (Rhonda Pelley/The Rooms)

For Mireille, isolation also brought new meaning to Shuvinai Ashoona's lithograph Arctic Evening. "It's a family, in a home, together. It is a simple moment. It is extremely boring, and that's why it's beautiful. And I think it's an experience that many of us can relate to as we're in our houses waiting this pandemic out." 

Arctic Evening, 2003 by Suvinai (Shuvinai) Ashoona. Lithograph on arches paper (P.P) 57 x 76.5. (Suvinai (Shuvinai) Ashoona)

While this video is a great way to get an inside look at artworks we otherwise wouldn't be able to see, Mireille says she can't wait for The Rooms to reopen. "The first thing I'm going to do is go look at a painting or a sculpture. I need to look at something physical and tangible!"

CBC Arts understands that this is an incredibly difficult time for artists and arts organizations across this country. We will do our best to provide valuable information, share inspiring stories of communities rising up and make us all feel as (virtually) connected as possible as we get through this together. If there's something you think we should be talking about, let us know by emailing us at See more of our COVID-related coverage here.

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