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21 works of art to inspire, disrupt, and challenge: Awakening opens at Queen’s Park

The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, addressing the guests at opening night


The Art Bank collection is versatile: its works are rented out to office spaces and events, loaned to museums, and—sometimes—come together to create new exhibitions.

In May 2018, works from the Art Bank came together for Awakening, an exhibition organized by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in partnership with the Art Bank at Queen’s Park in Toronto.

Curated by author, innovator and global design consultant Bruce Mau, the exhibition focuses on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals—an action plan promoting and coordinating the implementation of internationally agreed development goals by 2030.

For this exhibition, Bruce Mau poses the important question, “Now that we can do anything, what will we do?”

Art certainly has an important role to play in answering this question. As the Canada Council’s Director and CEO, Simon Brault, reminded visitors at Awakening’s opening on May 1, the exhibition provides “an opportunity to engage with ongoing conversations around sustainable development, and also a point of departure for new conversations that will help us build the society we want to live in.”

The exhibition includes both large-scale works on canvas, exquisite prints and intimate photographs, including pieces by Germaine Arnaktauyok, Edward Burtynsky, Michael Snow and Shirley Wiitasalo—the latter three being past winners of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts (GGAVMA).

You can visit the exhibition on a guided tour of the stately rooms in the Lieutenant Governor’s Suite at Queen’s Park until May 31, 2019.  You can also download the bilingual catalogue that accompanies the exhibition—which includes essays on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and images of the works on display from the Art Bank.

If you are planning an exhibition and wish to include works from our collection, please contact the Art Bank to find out more about our loans program and broader outreach activities.

The focal point of the exhibition is Eleanor Bond’s imagined world in “IV Converting the Powell River Mill to a Recreation and Retirement Centre”, which hangs in the drawing room of the Lieutenant Governor’s Suite at Queen’s Park


Simon Brault, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Canada Council for the Arts, speaking at the opening of Awakening


Amy Jenkins, Head of the Art Bank, with The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario


Antonia Hirsch’s simple black and white print, “World Map Project: Equal Countries A – Z”, hangs in the elegant dining room


About the Author:  Mike Steinhauer
Mike Steinhauer is the Manager of Exhibitions and Outreach with the Canada Council Art Bank. He is responsible for the loan program which allows Canadian and international galleries, museums and other cultural institutions to borrow artworks for group and solo exhibitions, as well as the Art Bank’s exhibition and outreach activities.

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