Beyond the red doors of McIntosh Gallery

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

McIntosh Gallery

We pass by the McIntosh Art Gallery frequently, but rarely take the time to step through its bright red doors. But as the second oldest university art gallery in Canada, built over 65 years ago, the gallery offers plenty to see.

The art gallery’s collection holds over 3,000 pieces and its earliest work, created by well-known Canadian oil painter William Nichol Cresswell can be dated back to the early 18th century.

The collection is stored at Althouse College; however, one-third of the collection can be found all over campus including the Brown Stone Columns just north of the McIntosh, Weldon Library and outside Ivey. McIntosh Gallery also showcases work from artists all over the world.

The staff selects exhibitions that explore issues relevant to the London community. The gallery’s curator, Catherine Shaw, personally visits studios and chooses artists who have similar artistic themes, but different perspectives.

Currently, the gallery is hosting an exhibition featuring six artists from Canada, the U.S. and Great Britain. The exhibition, “A Sense of Space: Blind Culture”, focuses on art created specifically for the visually impaired.

“Most of the work was created by sighted people with the idea that it can be touched and experienced beyond looking at it,” Shaw says. “The surfaces of several pieces are highly textured, and the exhibition also features a large wooden sculpture created by a blind artist.”

Inside the McIntosh Gallery

Although the gallery usually only showcases the work of professionals, twice a year it features student artwork. The upcoming exhibition in April will showcase the work from Fine Arts graduates at Fanshawe College. In August, two candidates completing their Master of Fine Arts degree will be selected to exhibit their work.

Currently, two-thirds of the visitors are students, and every two years the staff surveys the Western student population to find out how the gallery is viewed in their eyes. Last fall, a new strategic plan was passed that called for changes to the gallery over the next five years.

“Different projects are going to be started in the next few years that will contribute to the student experience here at Western,” Shaw says. This will include classroom visits to the gallery and gallery staff visiting classrooms.

So take a moment and pop into the gallery if you have time in between classes. Admission is free and it never hurts to stimulate your creative juices.

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