Helen Christou Gallery

Caring for the Collection
October 3, 2022 – January 6, 2023

Works from the ULethbridge Art Collection curated by Juliet Graham & Andrea Kremenik.

Curatorial Statement

Our jobs as Registrar and Collections Assistant require us to look at the artworks in the collection in a number of different ways. Some days we approach artworks in terms of preparing a loan to another institution which requires us to consider the logistics of shipping fragile and valuable objects. Other days we see artworks that require conservation care forcing us to look at a problem area rather than at the artwork as a whole. Perhaps our favourite task is pulling artworks out for tours in our viewing area, or helping student interns curate exhibitions, allowing us to view our artworks with a fresh perspective.

After a decade of working together we have regularly found ourselves shifting gears to keep up with the different needs of an art collection containing more than 15,500 artworks.Everyday work at the gallery changed with the pandemic and the brief respite from routine allowed us to pursue projects we normally do not have time for. Thanks to a grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage we were able to provide professional conservation care to a few artworks from the collection. To complete this work we contracted Paper Conservator Lisa Isley and Objects Conservator Sophia Zweifel, both from Calgary, as well as the firm, Fraser Spafford Ricci Art and Archival Conservation from Vancouver.

While most of our collection is in good condition, having some condition issues with artworks is inevitable. In choosing which artworks were to receive conservation treatment we considered the breadth of the collection and chose works that were in high demand, well-loved works done by leading artists; we also needed to establish which works had damage that would be fixable. You can see the conservation work that went into these artworks on the TV.

Beside some of the artworks are text panels: we invited our art gallery colleagues to contribute to this exhibition and reflect on what the artworks in this show mean to them. These quotes offer an additional perspective from the scientific nature of conservation and provide a glimpse into the variety of ways in which the artworks in our collection are considered and cared for.

Juliet Graham & Andrea Kremenik

Gallery Staff