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The Art Bank – Behind the Scenes at a Warehouse of Visual Delights

Visit the Canada Council Art Bank on September 26, 2015, from 10 am to 4 pm, as part of Culture Days.


In August, as a summer student at the Canada Council, I had the opportunity to tour its Art Bank, home to over 17,000 artworks by 3,000+ acclaimed Canadian artists. At any time one-third of the collection is on view, either through loans or rentals to public and private organizations across Canada.

Upon entering the Canada Council’s Art Bank, I was greeted by staff and a scintillating painting by Harry Kiyooka. Moving forward and inward, I encountered the area where most of the artwork is stored, and the discovery continued…

Wandering the jewelry art-box

Paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs – it was a plethora of art, presented on the walls, on the floors, and hung on the infamous grated-pull-out shelves.

Each work is catalogued with barcodes, and categorized through strategic planning – rather than collecting and displaying an artist’s work all within the same area, the members of the Art Bank choose to place them by size, as a means of employing as much available space as possible. The end result is a community of artwork, pleasing to the eyes in each their own way – you never know what you’re going to see until you see it.

“I felt like a child in a toy store; except these “toys” were created by masters of the fine arts, spanning across the 1960s to the present-time.”

What a fruitful experience! I felt like a child in a toy store; except these toys were created by masters of the fine arts, spanning across the 1960s to the present-time. It’s incredible that private and public sectors have the opportunity to rent these works and I briefly wonder if the walls in my home can be considered an establishment.

Now it’s your turn…

As I leave the Art Bank after this well-appreciated art-therapy session, I feel privileged to have had this rare behind-the-scenes peek at an amazing collection. And you can too – if you’re in Ottawa on September 26 from 10 am to 4 pm. The Art Bank will open its doors to the public as part of Culture Days, a national grassroots celebration of arts and culture. Along with exploring the collection, visitors can experience contour drawing, colour collage, interactive paper sculpture-making, and can talk art with Art Bank art consultants, framer and technicians. The location can be accessed by car, bus and even bike!

Also on:
Pre-screening of Marie-Hélène Parant‘s visual and interactive installation, Fluxus∞
Canada Council’s offices at 150 Elgin, Ottawa
More details to come regarding the vernissage of the work at artist talk.


About the Author: Danielle Havimaki

Danielle Havimaki is a multi-disciplinary artist with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Communication Studies from the University of Ottawa. During the summer of 2015, she worked at the Canada Council as a summer intern for the Marketing Communications Department. She is currently in Toronto where she is completing her studies in Web Design, Development and Maintenance at Humber College. @havimaki

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