Interview with McIntosh Gallery curator Catherine Elliot Shaw

Sky Glabush, Blue House 2009, oil on canvas, 213 x 304 cm, McIntosh Collection, Gift of Marion and Ross Woodman, 2012

McIntosh Gallery is a centre for the presentation and dissemination of advanced practices and research in the fields of art history and contemporary visual art. McIntosh serves the students, faculty and staff of Western University and the broader community of the City of London as a teaching and research resource. A university-based, public art gallery since 1942, McIntosh collaborates with artists, curators and academics to develop innovative strategies to interpret and disseminate visual culture. Exhibitions, educational programs and special events provide a platform for engagement with visual art and artists. (source:

Throughout 2012, McIntosh Gallery acquired a number of important contemporary Canadian works of art. On Wednesday May 8th, McIntosh Gallery will celebrate these acquisitions with a reception held at 4 p.m. in Weldon Library, Western University.

In advance of Wednesday's event, McIntosh Gallery curator Catherine Elliot Shaw was kind enough to spend some time answering a few questions and sharing her knowledge.


Kay: For those who are not familiar, tell me about McIntosh Gallery's collection. What types of works are included and where can viewers see work displayed?

Catherine: The McIntosh Gallery collection is comprised of over 3,700 artworks in various media such as painting, sculpture, drawing, video and installation. It includes significant holdings of nationally acclaimed Canadian artists like Ron Benner, Jack Bush, Jack Chambers, Greg Curnoe, Paterson Ewen, Jamelie Hassan, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Michael Snow. Over 800 works are on display throughout the campus in libraries and departments as well as around the grounds.

Kay: The first of the artists we will speak of whose work has joined the McIntosh collection is Kelly Wood. Since its Vancouver debut in 2003, Kelly Wood's Continuous Garbage Project has been extremely successful. Tell me about the importance of acquiring six photographs from this 275-image body of work.

Catherine: McIntosh Gallery collected contemporary and historical photography long before it was recognized as a visual art medium. Among the nationally acclaimed photographers represented are Barbara Astman, Genevieve Cadieux, and Jeff Wall. Acquiring Kelly Wood’s large format work strengthens our contemporary holdings with a cross-country link to the “Vancouver School” by a London-based artist.

Kay: Two works were purchased from Jason McLean's fall 2012 exhibition entitled Jason McLean: if you could read my mind. What drew McIntosh to select these particular works from the exhibition and how do they compliment the gallery's collection?

Catherine: These two drawings are the first by Jason McLean to enter the collection and complement others by a newer generation of London-based artists including James Kirkpatrick, Marc Bell, and Jamie Q.

Kay: What are some of the highlights of the nineteen works by Patrick Mahon that were donated to McIntosh Gallery?

Catherine: Patrick Mahon graciously donated a number of works from three series, Book of Turbulence, Vitrine and Baker Lake House, to represent his more recent artistic interests. He also included several of the series’ preparatory drawings which expand our understanding of his working methods.

Kay: Like Mahon and McLean, Sky Glabush is also a London-based artist. What is the significance of having acclaimed artists not only based out of London, but also utilizing the city as the subject for work, as did Glabush in his series entitled Renting?

Catherine: Like many nationally acclaimed artists including Greg Curnoe and Jack Chambers, Sky Glabush has found that London provides a compelling yet universal subject. Acquiring this work, a first for the collection, extends our understanding of how the effects of this locale have changed over time.

Kay: Also on display is the Berger Collection of Inuit Art, curated by doctoral candidate Laura Kelvin under the supervision of Professor Lisa Hodgetts of the Department of Anthropology. Tell me about the relationship McIntosh Gallery has with departments at Western as a means of providing experiential learning opportunities for students.

Catherine: To enhance and support Western’s curriculum, McIntosh Gallery offers a variety of experiential learning opportunities. Recently, students in Visual Arts, Education, History, Geography, Women’s Studies, Medicine and Anthropology have been involved in internships, bursary positions, summer postings, and workshops. Anthropology doctoral candidate Laura Kelvin used her substantial knowledge of Inuit culture to illuminate the artworks featured in the Berger Collection of Inuit Art.

Kay: In summary, what can be expected at Wednesday's reception?

Catherine: On Wednesday, we will honour Marion and Ross Woodman, donors of the Sky Glabush painting, and Dr. Heidi and Dr. Dieter Berger, donors of the extensive collection of Inuit art featured in Laura Kelvin’s display. In addition, graduating students Julia Lacasse and Kelly Lu from the Faculty of Education have assisted in the conservation of other works currently on view in the D. B. Weldon Library. They have also researched and written extended labels with information about these artworks.

Everyone is welcome to join us for an informal coffee reception on the main floor of the D.B. Weldon Library at 4 p.m.


For more information about Wednesday's reception, contact Natalie Finkelstein, communications and outreach coordinator, at