Exhibitions in 2016

    Hungry Valley

    Sarah Burwash

    September 2016 - December 2016
    The Dayroom, 177 Water St, St. John's, NL

    Opening reception
    Thursday, September 22, 2016
    7-10 PM
    All welcome

    The Dayroom is proud to present Hungry Valley, a new body of work by Sarah Burwash spanning watercolour, silks and sculpture.

    I held the handle bars and again I recited the most pertinent advice:

    “Ok, she’s in neutral now
    now pull in your clutch
    and remember your front brake is on the right
    and the clutch is on the left - your left
    pull your throttle gentle
    and rev her up to about thirty five hundred
    kick her down into first gear and let your clutch out gentle.
    Don’t be afraid, she’ll feel it!

    … I am right here”

    There have been a handful of times when I’ve recited these well worn lines to a new rider. My 1974 RD350 sits low and snug to the inner contours of those with narrow hips and slender frames.

    You need trust if you want to be any good at teaching someone how to ride. First, you need to trust them, so that they can trust themselves, and in turn, trust the bike. It was the experience I had when my father first taught me how to ride a motorbike, an exceedingly heavy, aggressively wide, and masculinely powerful bike. And yet, generously absorbed in his embrace of confidence, I had no hesitation. No anxiety induced fears.

    I would like to think my mother felt the same way when he taught her to ride. But then, it’s also unimaginable. How she felt when she was letting the clutch out for the first time. When she revved up the bike and spat out in first gear. At that time, bikers were proud to self-identify as existing within a misogynist society. Women were bitches or ol’ ladies, a mere accessory for a sissy bar toted around on the back of a motorbike. The remnants of this society still exist today, in leather patches that exclaim “if you can read this the bitch fell off” and in garages adorned with stolen pages from mechanics’ catalogues advertising exhaust pipes, nestled among irrelevant backdrops of cleavage.

    Talking with Sarah Burwash, I hear about Babes in the Dirt, a weekend-long campout, oriented around dirt biking, hosted in the American badlands, and exclusive to those that self-identify as women. Of course I would hear about this from her. After all, she’s the woman I met in a basement, wielding a high powered demolition hammer, dressed in a pale pair of carharts, her hair slung back in a slick pony tail. Burwash is the type of woman who won’t be told no, or at least won’t listen if you dare project her interests or typecast her gender. Of course she would travel off alone and seek out this oasis of assertive femmes roaming on two stroke bikes. Sensibly, these women are just like Sarah, gentle in their assertion of authority but confident about their confidence.

    Sometimes, it’s not about being included in a dialogue, it’s about making your own conversation. Perhaps this explains why Burwash chooses to paint motorbikes and also accessorize with soft silk, an obvious reference to femininity. After all, it’s time we get off the back and make this all our own.

    Text by Nicole Westman.

    Couple on the Beach

    Alyssa Matthews, Sarah Sands Phillips, Hazel Eckert, Walter George

    Jul 13, 2016 - Sep 18, 2016
    The Dayroom, 177 Water St, St. John's, NL

    Stella: Maybe one day she'll find her happiness.
    Jeff: Yeah, some man'll lose his.
    --Rear Window (1954)

    Couple on the Beach

    Alyssa Matthews (Brooklyn, NYC)
    Sarah Sands Phillips (Toronto, ON)
    Hazel Eckert (St. John's, NL)
    Walter George (Conception Harbour, NL)

    The Dayroom is proud to present artists Alyssa Matthews, Sarah Sands Phillips, Hazel Eckert and Walter George as part of our inaugural exhibition and public opening. Couple on the Beach takes its name from the iconic 1954 painting by Alex Colville (1920-2013). In the painting, a woman lays on her side, the curve of her body forming the contour of the horizon. Her face is hidden by a straw hat. A man, crouched at the knees, faces the woman, his back to the viewer. Both the male and female figures possess independence while occupying a space of unfeigned intimacy. In typical Colville fashion, the languor of a day at the beach is offset by invisible, hovering disquiet: a private scene simmering with danger and violence. Couple on the Beach takes note of the richness of Colville's composition and re-positions the figurative painting through discretionary references to hot sand, threat, closeness, emptiness, man and woman, fields of vision and desire.

    --Penelope Smart, Director, The Dayroom


    Sarah Sands Phillips (b. 1984, Toronto, Canada) has a multidisciplinary practice encompassing painting, sculpture, photography, and experimental film. She received a BFA from Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, with majors in studio art and art history. Sands Phillips has exhibited locally (General Hardware Contemporary, Gallery 44: Centre for Contemporary Photography, Videofag, DNA Artspace, Art Toronto) and in the US (MULHERIN NEW YORK, New York, NY). In summer 2016 she will be publishing her first book of poetry with Swimmer’s Group. Her work is in the collection of TD Bank Group. She currently lives and works in Toronto.

    Investigating themes of beauty, decay, and revival, I am interested in working through the inherent restrictions and limitations of found materials to unveil renewed forms. In various ways my work addresses the shifting and fading quality of memory, as well as our connection to the body, both present and absent. In the waves (images of my father) is a series of photographs printed from screenshots of footage from a family vacation to Florida in 1954. Found undeveloped, and one of only a few existing filmic documents of my family, the film contains images of my four-year-old father playing in the waves with his older brother. In many of the images my father is obscured by water, his body blurring into the abstraction of the ocean.

    Alyssa Matthews grew up in South Louisiana and received her MFA from the University of Connecticut in 2012. She lives and works in New York.

    Matthews' practice investigates her personal and commercial relationships to feminine fantasy, in turn through validation and criticism. Examined within each picture is the reliance of fantasy on both image-viewing and image-making - ranging from online media consumption to the practice of painting itself. Matthews' found media images of Princess Diana look to Degas' bathers and also translate as advertisement photography; her shoreline abstractions are inspired by pop songs on her summer playlist. Inspiration here maintains close ties to nostalgia. Both are heralded yet possibly undermined.

    Hazel Eckert is an artist, printer and designer from Toronto Ontario. She holds a B.A in printmaking from OCAD University, 2008. With a background in graphic design and letterpress printing, commercial materials and techniques inform her art practice. As a recipient of numerous awards and grants from the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, Open Studio and Atelier Graff, Eckert's work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions across Canada. She has participated in artist residencies in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Eckert lives and works in St. John's, NL.

    Three Brides is a series of photographs taken from different issues of Life magazine. Each photograph depicts a bride-to-be and suggests a more complex story than the conventional happily-ever-after narrative. The archetypal man-and-wife/love-and-marriage scenario is seemingly absent in these images; instead each offers a contemplative scene - the bride is solitary in her thoughts challenging the ideal of finding completion in another person.

    Walter George lives and works in Conception Harbour, NL. After a 30 year career as an electronics technician Walter has turned his lifelong affair with wood into a profession. His home studio, known as Georgecraft, is best known for unique, wooden kitchen utensils and furniture with clean Shaker-inspired lines. Walter favors local woods such as plum, cherry & maple for his smaller items and white or yellow birch for his furniture designs.

    Dueling Daggers is a set of two Damascus steel Daggers. The hand forged blades originating in Pakistan are 200-plus layers of carbon steel forge welded to create hard durable steel. The pattern in the blades is called Ladder Pattern. The handles crafted from exotic wood and pinned with brass. The red wood handle is made from Padauk commonly grown in the equatorial rain forest and the dark wood handle is Wenge grown in Central Africa. Both are finished with Teak oil. The daggers are mounted on a Cherry wood stand finished with Tung Oil. As tools, the knives speak to the tradition of hunting and fishing across Newfoundland. As decorative objects, the knives hold connotations of chivalry, self-sufficiency, romance, and danger.

    The Mirror City and her envoy | curatorial notes on Janet Frame


    Apr 21, 2016
    Eastern Edge Gallery

    speaker, Words in Edgewise, Mental Health edition, curatorial notes on Janet Frame.

    I inhabited a territory of loneliness which I think resembles that place where the dying spend their time before death, and from where those who do return living to the world bring inevitably a unique point of view that is a nightmare, a treasure, and a lifelong possession; at times I think it must be the best view in the world, ranging even farther than the view from the mountains of love, equal in its rapture and chilling exposure, there in the neighborhood of the ancient gods and goddesses.