Vancouver Art Gallery Exhibition “Transits and Returns” – a review

Vancouver Art Gallery presents:

“Transits and Returns”

“Ideas of Place and Movement in the Work of Indigenous Artists from Around the Pacific” 

“Transits and Returns” showcases the work of twenty-one indigenous artists from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States. The exhibition has been coordinated by five curators who represent the countries and who will host the exhibition at some point. Each iteration of “Transits and Returns” has been unique, as curators have worked to share the art while honouring each local context.

The four defining themes of the exhibition are territory, movement, kinship and representation. The artifacts on display address the motifs in a variety of unique forms and styles. For example, “Carrying Fish Traps 2018 – 2019” by Elisa Jane Carmichael from Australia, is fashioned from ghost net, synthetic fibre, raffia, yarn, wool, cane, wire and fish scales.

Hand woven baskets, lonely moccasins, re-working of Norman Rockwell paintings, videos, skulls and other treasures abound in each room. In one, for example, a beautifully set dining table, representing intercultural sharing through food, includes, among other things, beautiful red clay pottery from the Lakotas, Hiapo (tapa) cloth from Samoa, beaded napkins, wooden spoons and a velvet tablecloth.

Renowned local Musqueam weaver Debra Sparrow has provided four of her traditional Salish blankets, three of which have been gifted to members of her nation to commemorate significant events. As well, in partnership with the City of Vancouver Public Art Programme and the Canada Line Art Programme, Debra Sparrow will soon have a graphic mural installed at the Canada Line Vancouver City Centre Station.

“Transits and Returns” will be on view from September 28, 2019 to February 20, 2020. For more details, visit:, or ph: 604-662-4700.

article – Judy Robb

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