Presented by Embassy Cultural House and the GardenShip and State Project
Join us Sunday, May 2, at 1:30 p.m. for A Virtual Exhibition Opening and Video Presentation. The event will begin with a Land Acknowledgment and welcoming by Mary Lou and Dan Smoke.
The Embassy Cultural House (ECH) and GardenShip and State are pleased to present a virtual group exhibition Stop Extinction! Restore the Earth to celebrate Earth Day, April 22, 2021. Works in the exhibition are by artists from within the ECH community and Gardenship and State participating artists. The 50 artworks that make up this ambitious project take on a broad range of issues related to the climate crisis and other threats to our ecology, emphasizing decolonial practices as central to addressing this urgent moment.
A concise animation, “Up in Smoke,” by the youngest presenter in the exhibition, 15-year-old Kian Saadani-Gordon, portrays the blue planet with a giant, billowing smokestack protruding from its body. It is a poignant yet frightening reminder of our predicament. Equally caustic in its critique of human culpability regarding the plight of gaia are the ‘earthly non-delights’ portrayed by Carole Conde and Karl Beveridge in their photo-triptych, “Futures.”
Numerous other artists in the exhibition, including Jessie Amery, Stephen Cruise, and Jamelie Hassan, also allude to the garden – as by turns a troubled sanctuary and a site of potential regeneration and possibility. In works by Sharmistha Kar, Roland Schubert, Jean Spence, and Christine Walde, rivers, lakes, and waterways feature as emblems of devastation, but also as reminders of human and more than human indebtedness to the earth’s water sources as central to survival.
GardenShip and State co-curator Jeff Thomas invokes colonization and decolonization, reminding us of the inseparable linkage between stewardship of the planet and the legitimacy of Indigenous land claims. Perhaps nowhere in the exhibition is the spectrum of human experience, aspiration, and often failure as fully pronounced as in the juxtaposition of Ron Benner’s digital photograph of seeds, grains, beans and pottery shards, labelled, “Remains in Association with cultural deposits: 10,000 years before present era,” and Mark Kasumovic’s stirring black and white image of a vast, florescent-lit cavern, entitled, “Vault #3 [from the series, A Human Laboratory,”2015]. Benner’s colourful, living archive, and Kasumovic’s frozen image of an empty Svalbard Global Seed Vault, are the exhibition’s alpha and omega moments.
Stop Extinction! Restore the Earth contributors include: Jessie Amery, Tariq Amery, Ron Benner, Paul Chartrand & Michelle Wilson, Carole Condé & Karl Beveridge, Stephen Cruise, Tom Cull, Susan Day, Holly English & Olivia Mossuto, Mike Farnan, Michael Fernandes, kerry ferris (1949 - 2016), Jan Figurski, Mireya Folch-Serra,Fatima Garzan, Joan Greer, Dave Gordon, Tariq Hassan Gordon, Jamelie Hassan, Fern Helfand, Lisa Hirmer, Sharmistha, Kar, Mark Kasumovic, Brian Lambert, Patrick Mahon, Kim Moodie, Catherine Morrisey, Troy Ouellette, Jill Price, Judith Rodger, Kian Saadani-Gordon, Niloufar Salimi & Mohammad Tabesh, Jayce Salloum, Jenna Rose Sands, Roland Schubert, Sandra Semchuk, Carolyn Simmons, Mary Lou & Dan Smoke, Ashley Snook, Jean Spence, Diana Tamblyn, Jeff Thomas, Bernice Vincent (1934 - 2016), Esther Vincent, Christine Walde, Paul Walde, and Jade Williamson.
www.embassyculturalhouse.ca is a volunteer digital project originally launched in July 2020 to recognize the contributions of the arts and culture community which came of age in London in the 1960s-1970s. Artists Jamelie Hassan and Ron Benner and jazz musician Eric Stach founded the Embassy Cultural House (1983-1990), located in the restaurant portion of the Embassy Hotel at 732 Dundas Street in East London.
In 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Embassy Cultural House was re-envisioned as a virtual artist-run space and website. ECH emphasizes activism, community engagement, and diverse and intergenerational collaboration. As a not-for-profit collective, the ECH has quickly grown into a network of 100 contributors from across Canada and around the world.
GardenShip and State is an artistic research project conceived at the intersection of environmental critique, decolonial theory, and artistic practice. Involving a diverse group of twenty Canadian-based and international artists and thinkers, the project examines urgent issues confronting us today: climate change and global warming and the measures states and non-state actors can, or should, take to resolve them. These challenges are of global concern because local actions and global effects are intertwined, as shown by the destructiveness of the environmental crisis on humans and more than humans experiencing colonialism.
Co-curated by Patrick Mahon and Jeff Thomas, an on-site exhibition planned for Museum London (Sept.2021 – Jan. 2022) will play an important role in promoting regional discussions about the consequences of living in the Anthropocene. The project began with a Launch Workshop held in Fall 2019 at Museum London and Western University. Since then, some of its participants were featured presenters in a panel for this year’s Words Festival (Nov. 2020), and a slide show of works by seventeen of the project’s collaborators was projected on the giant screens overlooking the Deshkan Ziibi (Antler River, also known as Thames River) from Museum London’s Centre at the Forks.
The GardenShip and State exhibition in Fall, 2021, will be a multi-sensory experience that inhabits the Ivey Galleries at Museum London, and spills into other areas of the Museum, inside and out. Comprising textiles, photography, sculpture, video, and installation, the exhibition emphasises environmental critique and decolonization through projects that are aesthetically rich and culturally complex. (
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A big thank you to Esther Vincent for sharing with us drawings by her father, Don Vincent, from his sketch book done circa 1990 at the Embassy Cultural House. The drawings were done during Eric Stach's regular Free Music Unit performances which were held weekly on Thursday nights.
Don Vincent, (1932-1993), a graduate of H.B. Beal Art and husband of London artist Bernice Vincent (1934-2016), worked as a graphic designer at London Life, but he was well-known for his documentary photographs of the art scene in London, Ontario. Don’s photographic archive is in the collection of the McIntosh Gallery, Western University, London, Ontario.
Bernice and Don were avid supporters of the Embassy Cultural House and regulars at Eric Stach's Free Music Unit events. These drawings capture the energy and dynamism of these musical events and the Embassy Cultural House era.
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