The Vancouver Art Gallery Presents Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me

The Vancouver Art Gallery presents
Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me

The multi-sensory exhibition features larger-than-life-sized automatons,
two-way mirrors, a coin-operated sculpture and an interactive score.

The Vancouver Art Gallery proudly presents: Outside the Palace of Me, a major exhibition of new work by Canadian visual artist and performer Shary Boyle, organized by the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, ON. A gripping assembly of provocative and timely works, this multi-sensory exhibition explores perceptions and modes of identity through the context of theatre. In a time where social media has become a stage for self-presentation, Outside the Palace of Me showcases Boyle’s ever-mounting anxieties about global and social crises while highlighting the increasingly blurred distinction between personal integrity and public persona.

The exhibition title is inspired by the lyrics from the 2016 song “Europe Is Lost” by UK poet Kae Tempest. Outside the Palace of Me uses costume, character, set design and stage effects to explore what makes us, us. Boyle invites viewers to consider how we see each other and ourselves through a multi-sensory installation featuring drawings, sculpture, large-scale mechanical devices, trick mirrors and music. Reimagining the museum as an arena for performance, the artist worked closely with a scenic designer, robotics engineer, amusement park innovator and costume artists to set the stage for accessible and playful interaction.

“Boyle’s exhibition presents a well-timed and thought-provoking exploration of personal identity and self-perception,” said Anthony Kiendl, CEO and Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “Her clever use of theatre and performance make this exhibition engaging and expansive, offering visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in a multi-sensory experience.”

Upon entering the exhibition through a set of stage curtains, visitors will find themselves greeted by a procession of the artist’s uncanny cast of characters and given the opportunity to assume the role of a performer on a theatrical stage. Notable works in the exhibition include larger-than-life-sized automatons White Elephant (2021) and Judy (2021); a coin-operated sculpture Centering (2021); and an interactive score.

Outside the Palace of Me opens on March 4, 2023, and will be on view to the public until June 4, 2023. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication entitled Outside the Palace of Me, published by the Art Canada Institute and is available for purchase from the Gallery Store or online. The book, based on the exhibition of the same name, reflects on global and individual struggles of identity to wonder at the possibilities of a just, joyous and collective future.

Born in 1972, Shary Boyle works across diverse media, including sculpture, painting, performance, installation and drawing. She is known for her bold, highly crafted and deeply imaginative explorations of the figure. Boyle has a long history of collaboration and mentorship with specialists inside and outside the contemporary arts such as hobbyists, artisans, tradespeople, musicians, writers, dancers, etc. In her practice, she considers the social history of ceramic figurines, animist mythologies and folk art forms to create a symbolic, feminist and politically charged language that is uniquely her own. Shary Boyle’s work is exhibited and collected internationally, and she represented Canada at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. An expanded exhibition of Outside the Palace of Me will be presented at the Museum of Art and Design in New York, NY in September 2023.

Dr. Sequoia Miller Chief Curator & Deputy Director, Gardiner Museum
Sequoia Miller is a historian, curator, and studio potter. He is the Chief Curator and Deputy Director at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, Toronto. Miller holds a Ph.D. in the History of Art from Yale University; an MA from the Bard Graduate Center for Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture; and a BA from Brandeis University. Recent curatorial projects include RAW and Ai Weiwei: Unbroken at the Gardiner and The Ceramic Presence in Modern Art at the Yale University Art Gallery. Miller is an author of the upcoming book Ceramic Art from Princeton University Press. Prior to his museum and academic work, Miller was a full-time studio potter based in the Pacific Northwest.

The piece, Centering (2021), requires $1 or $2 coins to activate which will be made available at the front desk (100% of the funds collected will be donated to the YWCA Inspirations Studio). The exhibition texts from Outside the Palace of Me will be available on the Vancouver Art Gallery’s mobile guide and can be accessed via QR codes located throughout the exhibition. A described tour will also be made available. A paper pamphlet in standard and large font size will be available for takeaway at the “dressing room” entrance to the exhibition. Recycling receptacles will be positioned in the forecourt and end of the exhibition for the reuse of pamphlets.
For further information, please visit

The Vancouver Art Gallery is grateful to its exhibition supporters and sponsors:

Presented by:

Jane Irwin and Ross Hill

Additional support by:

Joanie Anderson

Organized by:

Image Credits: Shary Boyle, Centering, 2021, coin operated pottery wheel, electronics, wood, textiles, foot pedal, collaborative textile design with Grant Heaps, Courtesy of the Artist and Patel Brown Gallery, Photo: John Jones

Traditional Coast Salish Lands, including the Musqueam (xwməθkwəy̓əm), Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh) and Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilw̓ətaɬ) Nations.

Media release and images provided by Lucie Mink, Vancouver Art Gallery.

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