Helen Christou Gallery

A Colourful Journey
June 21 – September 21, 2024

Curator: David Smith

A tribute to gallery registrar Juliet Graham featuring behind-the-scenes photographs and works from Frank Stella, Nicholas de Grandmaison, and Maxwell Bates.

Curatorial Statement

My inspiration for this exhibition was sparked by our Gallery Registrar, Juliet Graham, when she recently announced that she will soon be leaving our team to embark on the next chapter of her life with her family in Nova Scotia.  Juliet joined the University Art Gallery staff in 2008, bringing with her a wealth of knowledge in best practices for collections care.  This expertise was acquired through her formal education in art conservation at Sir Sandford Fleming College, in Peterborough, Ontario and her subsequent decade-long tenure operating her own paper conservation business.  Her specialization in works on paper has been particularly invaluable at the University Art Gallery, where the majority of our more than 15,000 works are prints, drawings and other works on paper.

Juliet has often compared her role to that of a Librarian, when describing her work to those unfamiliar with the inner workings of an art gallery.  Each artwork, akin to a book, is assigned a number, and she carefully tracks each one as it goes out on loan or exhibition.  Her role however, has extended far beyond record-keeping.  In addition to her diverse list of responsibilities, she has played a crucial role in long-term planning, championed public programming events such as Knitting at Noon, and provided experiential learning opportunities to students.  This includes designing collections projects and offering mentorship to both museum studies interns and staff.

One of the greatest strengths of the Art History/Museum Studies program here at the University is the internship opportunity it provides.  While several institutions around the city accept interns, Juliet’s willingness to supervise and provide mentorship has created a consistent and professional learning environment that has positively shaped the student experience for many years.  Following their placement with Juliet, each student or young professional has embarked on their own journey, with success stories that have been truly inspirational.  These range from obtaining Master’s degrees in art history, history, and studio art, to securing professional employment at prestigious institutions such as the National Gallery of Canada, Glenbow and even the position of director at an art gallery in Dubai.

Having witnessed many interns and staff working under her supervision, I can say that the most magical moments usually escape photographs.  There is something profoundly special about experiencing a student’s excitement as they discover the perfect artwork for their curatorial project or witness their fascination growing as they delve into a research topic.  The photos in this exhibition only hint at these special moments.  Additionally, Juliet has generously shared her knowledge by co-curating two exhibitions on conservation, leading open-house-style conservation demonstrations, presenting at conferences, and offering professional advice to other local institutions and members of the public.  Her warm presence will be deeply missed by the campus and City community, but especially by all of us at the gallery.  We extend our heartfelt wishes to her for all the very best in her future endeavors.

David Smith, Assistant Curator / Preparator