Strathcona Park  [Adàwe crossing]

September 2019

Ensemble Nomad.e planned five days in Ottawa’s Strathcona Park for our September residency. This is a very urban and public place. We set up near the wall that divides the park from the water. I spend much of my time on the opposite shore among the plants at the water’s edge.

I find the ubiquitous tire.

This residency could be called Adàwe crossing, as I pass from shore to shore via the modern footbridge. The bridge is the most important element in this people place and figures deeply into each day of the residency as I seek relief from the cultured sameness of the park.

These rhizomes represent what I am seeking. They are visually intreguing and vitally connect the water of this ancient seabed with land through cohabitation and mutual dependence.

I make an abstract picture of the opposite shoreline.


Britannia Conservation Area

August 2019

Beginning our residency at Ottawa’s Britannia Conservation Area, we use the first of five days to orient our senses. We breath the air warmed by the morning sun – a perfect day! Mostly I listen to the birds and insects while photographing mushrooms, talking with Emily and walking the parameter of Mud Lake.

The narrowness of the paths and a plethora of poison ivy send us to the other side of the road to explore the Southern shoreline of the Ottawa River. The Algonquin people named this majestic tributary flowing into the Saint Lawrence River, Kitchissippi (Great River) and French speakers call it, la rivière des Outaouais. As we set up to work, we discover mixtures of water and rocks, trees and grasses, waterfowl and sparrows, spiders and dragonflies of many colours and sizes.

Day 2
Deciduous trees descend from the ridge and join scraggy brush and willows on the riverbank. I explore the shoreline further. I am listening to the roaring rapids while exploring the manufactured things deposited here. Ensemble Nomad.e has an advantage to be here while the river is low – we walk on the ancient shale stone.

Day 3
Les rapides Deschênes provide a constant roar broken only by bird calls or people in the area. No dense tree foliage or mossy softness guide my senses. Themes in my residency work come through connecting with and interpreting each site. My senses are alive, and I must locate the natural connections to be found in the diversity around me.

Textures and marks left by the action of the water on the soft stone combine with the dense hairy roots of the willow tree to create the small near shore islands where we work.

Day 4
This place is about the river: the water, stones and inhabitants that live above and among the ancient stones that form the river’s bed. I see remnants from elsewhere deposited haphazardly – uprooted trees, piles of logs and a feeling like the one left from the spring flooding at Lac Leamy with its grey film over the shoreline. Maybe it is the time of year but there are not many birds in this sanctuary – life has been redirected.

 Day 5
Today I made a rubbing of the memorial plaque to a boy who drowned when walking with friends in the river. I create a transfer of the words when I realize that part of the year this area must be under water.

Most of the tenacious grasses and plants near the shoreline are rhizomes. I pull out a dark green rhizome drawing I worked up in my studio last year. My intention is to make it part of this place by adding colours I find in the water’s changing surface.


Today the air is fresh and cool. I take a deep breath and smell the same fish as the great blue heron on the far shore.


Parc du Lac Beauchamp quarry

July 2019

Four days in residency at Lac Beauchamp offered us sun and dry weather. Temperatures climbed each day until we had humidex figures reaching 40 degrees on Thursday. While working, the canopy of trees cooled us so completely that only when we emerged from the forest onto the asphalt were we aware of the scorching temperatures. We abandoned our haven for our cars.


For our July residency we consider the banks of Lac Beauchamp but decide on the wooded area around the mica quarry. What a great place! I find a spot surrounded by varieties of moss and lichen among the Ironwood trees. Sun spots dance and birds sing. As I am settling in, close observation and precise drawing take over my creative activity when I find an interesting tree scar.

Days 2 and 3, I am happy to return to the same location and feel connected to the glorious biodiversity surrounding me.

On the last day, I take out my sketchbook to finish a pencil drawing of a granite rock.

Some interesting results are coming from working over old ink-jet prints. The idea is to change the meaning inherent in the printed image. Each day has produced something different.

I am walking among the native sugar maples and pick up a tree flower. Returning to my place, I preserve my find under plastic mending tape and enclose it with a drawn house-like geometric form.

Speaking of flowers, I go looking for mushrooms. They are the flowers that visualize the mycelium network beneath the soil’s surface.







Présente / Presents

La voix des archives

Commissarié par Karina Arbelaez Saenz
Exposition : du 5 juillet au 26 juillet 2019
Vernissage : le 5 juillet de 17h à 19h

Dans le cadre du programme DémART-Mtl, la Centrale galerie Powerhouse présente La voix des archives, une exposition commissariée par Karina Arbelaez Saenz, où l’installation, le son et la vidéo mettent en lumière la mémoire de la galerie en témoigant du travail d’artistes féminines et non binaires sous-représentées. Après une étude minutieuse des archives, des observations personnelles et des expérimentations à La Centrale, Arbelaez Saenz entame un dialogue qui parcourt différents moments historiques du centre.

Mon travail est présenté dans le contexte d’une exposition à la Galerie La Centrale à Montréal. Je serai à la galerie pour une visite guidée par la commissaire le mercredi 10 juillet à 15 heures.

detail of Sustain, 1988

As part of the DémART-Mtl program, la Centrale galerie Powerhouse presents Voices of the Archives, curated by Karina Arbelaez Saenz. In this exhibition, sound and video bear witness to the work of underrepresented female and non-binary artists. After a careful study of the gallery’s archives, personal observations and experiments at La Centrale, Arbelaez Saenz instigates a discussion about different historical moments at the center.

My work is being shown as part of an exhibition at Galerie La Centrale in Montréal. I will be in the gallery on Wednesday, July 10 at 3 pm. for the curator’s tour.


Lac Leamy revisited

June 2019

It is a new season of nomadic residencies and we begin with a visit to Lac Leamy. Is the uneasiness in the air or is it in me? The record flooding in the Outaouais strikes a discordant note to the tender green shoots on the trees and grasses where the water has receded. The month of May was filled with dread as the waters from the Gatineau and Ottawa rivers kept rising. I went several times to visit Lac Leamy where the Gatineau river flooded the parking lot at the end of rue Atawe to about chin level on the far sidewalk.

Ensemble Nomad.e wants to see and hear changes brought with the flooding. This morning is cold and wet, we arrive around 9:00. The water is receding more rapidly now. Standing in drizzle without shelter we can not draw. Donning our rubber boots and rain gear, we begin to investigate how far we can walk around the lake, not far… the ground is spongy with mud and silt. It is slippery and the smell left behind by the receding water is foul. Goose shit is everywhere with occasional piles of other crap. Logs are out of place and the ribbons of leaves and small twigs leave evidence of how high the water reached in early May. There are no other humans but we see many herons, geese and ducks.

By the end of the week, the humans are back with all types of activities; including sun bathing and picnicking over plastic covered tables. The herons are gone. This urban lake is at a crossroads of massive human and aquatic activity. The remaining traces from the flood are both beautiful and intense. We laugh and cry, feel the calm growth of spring green and witness the surreal mud-soaked picnic table tops that served as our base last September.


Ensemble Nomad.e               

gail bourgeois . emily rose michaud

Ensemble Nomad.e, a multi-year project, makes visual works that emerge from the distinction of place near a body of water. Working seasonally over the next five years, Ensemble Nomad.e will continue moving from place to place within a local bioregion, listening to and learning from both the natural world and human activity. Through a feminist lens our work shifts personal grief into political agency.

To face creatively —with courage — the social climate and ecological crisis of our current moment.
– To consider our creative practice in relation to the whole of a bioregion.
– To make art work that emerges from our wanderings.
– To practice speaking and acting — with no anticipated outcome — on matters of common concern.
– To embody knowledge based on translation of self and other, including body/land/memory.
– To inform our project by slowing down, thinking relationally and by inviting diverse collaborators i.e., scientists, architects, activists, curators, artists.

Ensemble Nomad.e on Instagram: @ensemble.nomad.e


Ensemble Nomad.e

I am fifty percent of the newly named collective Ensemble Nomad.e. My colleague is the artist Emily Rose Michaud. In 2019, we will continue our practice of self-directed nomadic residencies to weave an affective bundle of connective experiences. Being in nature to make art pieces that respond to the distinction of place, wraps all the pleasures of being in biodiversity with creative time away from ordinary routines.

Although we are in the early stages of our collaboration, our relationship to the bio-regions, territories and watersheds where our residencies take place grows deeper with each encounter. Nourished by our curiosity, we are dedicated to the pleasure of noticing the multispecies worlds around us and to connecting with them in meaningful ways.

Last year, we began a multi-year project in which we visit new locations from April-October. The sites we choose are always near a body of water, where we create drawing-based, site-specific work outdoors for four or more days. In 2018, we undertook a total of four residencies:  PAF, Farrellton, Québec (July 2018); Lac Leamy, Gatineau, Québec (August 2018); Mer-Bleue, Ottawa, Ontario (September 2018); Artscape Gibraltar Point, Toronto Island (December 2018).











Here is a set of works completed on site.





I am delighted to let you know that a video and a catalogue for my exhibition, Accommodating the details, are available on my website. In the video, I talk about my studio process and the intentions I had in exhibiting these pieces. The bilingual exhibition catalogue contains a perceptive essay written by the art historian Sheena Gourlay. You are invited to have a look at the video here; the catalogue is available as a download by clicking the title here.

Catalogue essay by Sheena Gourlay : English text

Je suis fière d’annoncer la mise en ligne d’une vidéo et d’un catalogue faisant suite à l’exposition Accommodating the details, que j’ai présentée plus tôt cette année. Dans la vidéo, je parle de ma démarche et de mes intentions artistiques, tandis que le catalogue (bilingue) présente un essai critique par Sheena Gourlay. Je vous invite à visionner la vidéo et à parcourir le catalogue. Ensuite, si le cœur vous en dit, n’hésitez pas me faire part de vos commentaires.

Essai critique par Sheena Gourlay :  texte en français



A work for Unscripted, a group drawing exhibition curated by Tami Galili at Enriched Bread Artists.


Accommodating the details

Ottawa School of Art / École d’art d’Ottawa

February 8 – March 11, 2018 / 8 février – 11 mars, 2018
Vernissage: Thursday February 8, 5 pm to 8 pm / Jeudi 8 février de 17 h à 20 h

I will be present in the gallery: Thursday February 15, noon to 2:00 pm. It would be lovely to see you!
Je serai présente dans la galerie : Jeudi 15 février de 12 h à 14 h. J’espère vous voir!

Akimbo.ca – here


Morse Code Project

Gail Bourgeois and Giuliano Pirani (Pira)

LaLande + Doyle Exhibition Space / Espace d’exposition LaLande + Doyle
January 31 – February 25, 2018 / Du 31 janvier – 25 février 2018

Meet the Artists: February 11, 2018 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm.
Rencontrez les artistes : Le 11 février 2018 de 13 h à 15 h

Shenkman Arts Centre, 245 Centrum Boulevard, Lower Level
Hours: Daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Heures d’ouverture : Du lundi au dimanche de 8 h 30 à 22 h 30.
Information /Renseignements : 613-580-ARTS (2787)

Morse Code broadsheet here / ici 





L’exposition au Voix Visuelle

Je m’épanche, donc je suis
Exposition internationale d’estampe numérique miniature 12

Du 2 novembre au 2 décembre 2017 se déroule l’Exposition internationale d’estampe numérique, 12e édition, au Centre d’artistes Voix Visuelle. Sous le commissariat de Raymond Aubin, l’exposition propose les œuvres de nombreux artistes ayant réfléchi au thème de la mise en scène de soi, sous l’optique du journal Facebook. Pour cette exposition, les artistes proviennent de l’Allemagne, de la Belgique, du Canada, de la France, de la Grèce, de la Hongrie, de l’Inde, du Japon, des Pays-Bas, de la Pologne, de la Slovénie et de l’Ukraine.


CBC review of Stories Nearby

Thanks to Sandra Abma for her review of Stories Nearby on CBC News: Ottawa at 6:00, January 13, 2017. She invited her viewers to “an intriguing and varied show … by two very interesting artists … at Karsh-Masson Gallery”. On CBC radio’s In Town and Out, Sandra gave an additional nod to the exhibition! We had around fifty-five people at the walkthrough on January 15th, the last day of the exhibition.


L’exposition L’Imagier imaginaire

Centre d'expostion L'Imagier

Centre d’expostion L’Imagier

Gatineau 7 janvier – 2017. La vidéo créée par Marcel Jomphe pour l’exposition L’Imagier imaginaire qui a eu lieu à l’été 2016 est maintenant disponible en ligne. Pour cette exposition, le Centre d’exposition L’Imagier a convié une soixantaine d’artistes et auteurs à envahir ses murs. Le thème de l’exposition, L’Imagier imaginaire, fait référence non seulement aux lieux intérieurs et extérieurs imaginés par Yvette et Pierre Debain, les fondateurs de ces espaces de découvertes et de création, mais également à l’imaginaire des créateurs qui fréquentent ces lieux. Céline De Guise en était la commissaire.

Marcel Jomphe a cueilli les traces photographiques du travail de ces créateurs, les rassemblant dans une vidéo qui a été projetée dans les salles du Centre d’exposition du 17 juin au 22 août 2016. Une bande sonore, signée Andrée Préfontaine, accompagne ce court-métrage ainsi que la poésie des auteurs.

Regarder la video ici



Stories Nearby / Récits des alentours

Karsh-Masson Gallery
December 8, 2016 to January 15, 2017

Walkthrough with the artists: Sunday, January 15 at 2 p.m.

Parcours avec les artistes : le dimanche 15 janvier à 14 h, présentée en anglais.


Jasmine Sikind has written a review of Stories Nearby for the Centretown News.

Photo: Justin Wonnacott

Photo: Justin Wonnacott

Vernissage: Thursday, December 8, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Walkthrough with the artists: Sunday, January 15 at 2 pm

Excerpt from the essay by Nancy Baele:

The title of Anna Frlan’s and Gail Bourgeois’ exhibition, Stories Nearby, suggests something personal, a tonally quiet counterpoint to sensational headlines and explicitly brutal media images. Both artists have spent many years considering the after shocks of war, and how anxieties, stemming from horrific or threatening events that have been experienced by civilians or military personnel, are passed on to succeeding generations.


Galerie Karsh-Masson
Du 8 décembre 2016 au 15 janvier 2017

Vernissage : le jeudi 8 décembre de 17 h 30 à 19 h 30
Parcours de l’exposition avec les artistes (en anglais) : le dimanche 15 janvier à 14 h

Extrait du texte par Nancy Baele :

Bien que la forme humaine ne soit jamais vraiment représentée par Anna Frlan ou Gail Bourgeois, on la ressent intensément en raison des références à des objets façonnés ou modifiés par l’homme. Que ce soit dans War Chest d’Anna Frlan, avec ses dentelles implacables, ou dans le dessin de Gail Bourgeois intitulé The heart’s long offensive reach, avec sa tige mortelle, telle un filet de sang, qui soutient deux formes concaves rectangulaires, l’effet émotionnel est puissant. On retrouve le même sens tragique dans l’œuvre de Betty Goodwin. L’artiste montréalaise (1923-2008) traitait le corps humain, souvent par son évocation dans les objets et les vêtements utilisés, indiquant que « tout cela concerne l’humanité ». Comme Betty Goodwin, mesdames Frlan et Bourgeois réalisent des œuvres qui concernent l’humanité. Elles provoquent un désir de réfléchir à des vérités souvent voilées par des formes moins nuancées.



Entre nous estivale – L’exposition Gail Bourgeois : Correspondance

Entre nous estivale - L'exposition Gail Bourgeois : Correspondence tv Rogers, 7:34 Barbara Laurenstin en entrevue avec Véronique Couillard Published on Aug 2, 2016 Entre-nous estivale visite une exposition qui présente des œuvre s conceptuelles que l’artiste Gail Bourgeois a réalisées en écho avec la Collection Firestone d’art canadien.

Entre-nous estivale visite une exposition qui présente des œuvres conceptuelles que l’artiste Gail Bourgeois a réalisées en écho avec la Collection Firestone d’art canadien.

Barbara Laurenstin en entrevue avec Véronique Couillard de l’GAO.

tv Rogers, 7:34 – publié le 2 août 2016 – regarder ici


Lovely photo by David Barbour from the Ottawa Art Gallery opening on June 23, 2016

Left to Right: Paula Murray, artist; Rachel Gotlieb, curator, Rebecca Basciano, curator; Gail Bourgeois, artist; Jerry Grey, artist; Alexandra Badzak, OAG Director and CEO; Robbin Deyo, artist and Michelle Gewurtz, curator.



Ottawa Art Gallery
Curator: Rebecca Basciano
Exhibition from June 4 to September 18, 2016

Photo D Barbour 044

Fluidity and openness infect the closed and static (detail), 2016
Photo: David Barbour

Events and talks / Événements et rencontres

  •  Curator’s Tour with Rebecca Basciano has been moved to Tuesday, July 5 at 6:00 PM  /  Parcours avec la commissaire Rebecca Basciano, le mardi 5 juillet à 18h. Veuillez noter que cet évènement à été reporté du 29 juin au 5 juillet.
  • HOW DEEP IS YOUR RHIZOME? Thursday, July 14, 7 PM
    What do old-growth forests, gift economies, and the Internet have in common? Find out on Thursday, July 14 during a multimedia looking, listening, learning, and making event inspired by the exhibition’s focus on organic connections and non-hierarchical networks. We’re crowdsourcing ideas for content. Participate in shaping the event by sending in links, ideas, projects, and excerpts in any format (podcasts, videos, people we can Skype… and beyond!) that deal with the themes of networks, systems and other nodes of connection.  
  • JUSQU’OÙ S’ÉTEND VOTRE RHIZOME ?  le jeudi 14 juillet, à 19
    Qu’est-ce que les forêts anciennes, l’économie de don et l’internet ont en commun? Découvrez le jeudi 14 juillet lors d’un événement multimédia où vous êtes invité à regarder, écouter, apprendre ou produire. Cet événement est inspiré conçu à partir des thèmes dans l’exposition, les connexions organiques et les réseaux non hiérarchiques, nous recherchons les idées du public pour le contenu. Participez à la définition de l’événement en nous envoyant des liens, des idées, des projets ou des extraits dans tout format (podcasts, vidéos, des gens avec qui nous pourrions « Skyper » etc.,) qui traitent des thèmes entourant les réseaux, les systèmes et autres nœuds ou connexions. 
    Thursday, September 15, 6:30 PM
    Browse the exhibition Gail Bourgeois: Correspondence in the company of artists Gail Bourgeois and Emily Rose Michaud.
    le jeudi 15 septembre, à 18 h 30
    Parcourez l’exposition Gail Bourgeois. Correspondance en compagnie des artistes Gail Bourgeois et Emily Rose Michaud.




Texts by:  Rebecca Basciano

This catalogue accompanies Gail Bourgeois: Correspondence, an exhibition highlighting new work by artist Gail Bourgeois inspired by her engagement with the Ottawa Art Gallery’s Firestone Collection of Canadian Art. Bourgeois interweaves motifs used by artists Arthur Lismer, A.Y. Jackson, Edmund Alleyn and Anne Savage into horizontal, non-linear renderings done in ink wash, wax crayon, graphite and watercolour. The works are simultaneously organic and architectural, delicate and bold, and reveal Bourgeois’ sophisticated understanding of composition. The artist draws inspiration from roots, rhizomes and mycelial networks found in nature, intermingled with themes such as connectivity, multiplicity and cartography found in A Thousand Plateaus (1980), the collaborative philosophical text authored by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, to produce works that cause a rupture in overarching narratives and serve as a departure point for new ways of thinking.

32 pages + 6 page foldout (softcover)
ISBN: 978-1-894906-52-4

This catalogue from the OAG Intervention Series can be purchased at the Ottawa Art Gallery
or ordered through ABC Art Books Canada.


I am showing new works created as an intervention into the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art at the Ottawa Art Gallery.
Meet me in the gallery the afternoon of Sunday June 12th between 1 pm and 5 pm.
It will be a pleasure to see you!

Gail Bourgeois: Correspondence
from roots to rhizomes to mycelial networks

Curator: Rebecca Basciano
Exhibition from June 4 to September 18, 2016
Opening reception : June 23 from 6 pm
Arts Court, 2 Daly Ave., Ottawa


promo image_72

Je présente de nouvelles œuvres à la Galerie d’art d’Ottawa.
Je vous invite à venir m’y rencontrer le dimanche 12 juin entre 13 h et 17 h.
Au plaisir de vous y voir !

Gail Bourgeois. Correspondance
de racines en rhizomes en réseaux mycéliens

Commissaire : Rebecca Basciano
Exposition à l’affiche du 4 juin au 18 septembre 2016
Vernissage : le jeudi 23 juin à compter de 18 h
Arts Court est situé au 2, avenue Daly, Ottawa


Harvest, Sweep, Gather

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre
Hamilton, Ontario
Exhibition from May 13 – August 20, 2016

Gail Bourgeois

Cold War Pieces – broadsheet

Source material for Cold War Pieces came from three areas: the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum archives where I was artist-in-residence in 2013, and from emblematic images which circulate as currency about the period. An important source of visual information was gained through commissioning two photographers, Giuliano Pirani and Maggie Knaus, to produce pinhole photographs. These blurred and distorted images provided an excellent resemblance to cold war information gathering where there is little control over what will be recorded in a dark chamber through the tiny single beam of light that is allowed to enter.

Exhibition essay by Siobhan Angus.



ottawater, issue 12

nodes + lines

Lines + nodes (seen above) was included in Ottawa’’s annual pdf poetry journal
edited by rob mclennan

Founded to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the City of Ottawa, “ottawater” and its chemical formula/logo “O2(H2O)” is a poetry annual produced exclusively on-line focusing on Ottawa poets and poetics. The first issue appeared in January 2005.

Download ottawater, issue 12


BYOA 2016

BYOA (Bring Your Own Art) on the Meaning of Life was the sixth exhibition in RIA’s series Growing Up Human. On January 1, 2016, the walls in the RIA Project Room were empty. René stood ready with his hammer, nails, hooks and tape. Artists arrived with everything from large paintings, to poems, and even a cookie! By 3 pm most of the works by 35 participants were installed and we enjoyed the festivities, including a reading of poems, some story-telling and chanting. – Petra Halkes

There Is No Inherent Meaning_BYOA_2016

Artists were asked to bring a work which responded to the question: What is the Meaning of Life?  My response was a pencil drawing with the text “There Is No Inherent Meaning” printed on the inside bottom edge of the frame.

Visit the RIA Project Room blog What is the Meaning of Life?





The Ottawa Art Gallery and the Ottawa School of Art

OAG_OSA fall 2015

Student-led tour and discussion
Wednesday November 11, 2015
The Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario

The OAG’s ArtWise Council, Gail Bourgeois and the Ottawa School of Art invite you to attend a student-led tour and discussion of the artworks in the current exhibition nichola feldman-kiss: witness.

Students leading the tour are: Carol Brodkin-Sang, Andrea Clinton, Assel El-Rayes, Farida Houseiny, Patricia Kenny, Julie Mercantini, Mary Ann Penashue, Delphine Saint-Fort, Debbie Sleeman and Joshua Sullivan.


Reading Out Loud at the JNAAG

 Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery

Reading Out Loud
Thursday, July 9, 2015
The Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery, Sarnia, Ontario

I had the pleasure of facilitating another Reading Out Loud event in the context of the brilliant traveling exhibition, Alma: The Life and Art of Alma Duncan (1917-2004). This retrospective exhibition, organized and circulated by the Ottawa Art Gallery, celebrates Duncan’s lifework in recognizing her as an inextricable part of Canadian art history.

Here is a link to the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery.


Blink Gallery 2005-2015

Blink 2005-2015

It is so great to see this vital Ottawa-based artists’ collective celebrating their 10 year anniversary !

Go Blink!


Lines in Nature / La nature des choses

 Press release-Ad_FINALCOPY

Lines in Nature / La nature des choses
May 23 to June 21, 2015

I initiated and organized a community-based collaborative exhibition project structured through inviting the artists and not by choosing the works. In this way I avoided thinking of myself as a curator and rather as one of the artists participating in an experimental project. Seventeen artists, professionals paired with junior artists, produced collaborative art works. The art pieces contain the marks and sensibilities of two artists working in close communication. In addition, the project is a partnership between La Fab – Centre des arts, de la culture et du patrimoine de Chelsea (Québec) and the Ottawa School of Art. It brings together artists from two distinct communities with students and recent graduates of the Fine Arts Diploma Program at the Ottawa School of Art.



n.paradoxa international feminist art journal


Six page portfolio in War/Conflict, n.paradoxa, London, England, vol. 35, 2015, pp. 16-21

n.paradoxa (ISSN: 1461-0434) publishes scholarly and critical articles written by women critics, art historians and artists which extend feminist art, theory, criticism and history on and about the work of contemporary women artists post-1970 (visual arts only) working anywhere in the world. The editor is Katy Deepwell.





Reading Out Loud

Reading Out Loud with artist Gail Bourgeois │Lire à voix haute avec l'artiste Gail Bourgeois

Ottawa Art Gallery

Thursday, November 6, 2014, 7 – 9 PM | Registration Required

Artist Gail Bourgeois will lead an open reading of Linda Nochlin’s groundbreaking article “Why have there been no great women artists?” (1971). Explore the evolution of feminist theory as it relates to art history, as part of the OAG’s current exhibition ALMA: The Life and Art of Alma Duncan (1917-2004).  Also in attendance will be Jaclyn Meloche, part-time professor at the University of Ottawa, and Catherine Sinclair, OAG Senior Curator, the exhibition’s co-curators.

Reading Out Loud_OAG_2014


Poignant Art in Canada’s Cold War Bunker

Bourgeois_review_Poignant Art in Canada's Cold War Bunker - The Epoch Times

Dr. Maureen Korp presented on To warn other Canadians at the School of Visual Arts Conference, Session 12, NYC, New York, October 31, 2014.

Read Maureen Korp’s review: Poignant Art in Canada’s Cold War Bunker – The Epoch Times


 Exhibition of the Month: To warn other Canadians


It was an honor to be listed as ‘exhibition of the month’ in ESPIONART Hot Art / Cold War, July 8, 2014.



 The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum

My solo exhibition To warn other Canadians / Avertir les autres Canadiens,
took place in The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum, former CFS Carp, Ontario,
April 26 – September 30, 2014

portrait of the artist

Text below was published with artist’s pages in n.paradoxa, London, England, vol. 35, 2015, pp. 16-21

In November 2013, I was invited as artist-in-residence to the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum. The museum, started in 1997, occupies the Canadian Government’s coldwar bunker, active between 1961-1994, as central command-control centre to house 535 key members of government and military in the case of nuclear war.

The residency’s main aim was to develop new works based on the museum’s unique history, its archive and architecture. Source material for Cold War Pieces came from three areas: the museum’s vast archive; emblematic images from the Internet which circulate as currency about the period and pinhole images of the bunker’s spaces which I commissioned from two photographers, Giuliano Pirani and Maggie Knaus. I was looking for blurred and distorted images to parallel a culture of spying, fear and mistrust. The pinhole camera photographs provided an excellent resemblance to cold war information gathering where there is little control over what will be recorded in a dark chamber through the tiny single beam of light that is allowed to enter. Generally, these distortions provide little certainty about what is being looked at.

The drawing method I devised for these works played an important role in organising vast amounts of information and in developing a personal response to the specifics of place and historical moment. The document-sized scale relates to human proportions and to the time and space referenced by the exhibition site. I hoped these constructed narratives in the artworks would encourage the viewers’ own engagement through their own interpretations of these images. Motifs repeated throughout the series construct and interweave related themes and references. For example, Potsdam Conference / Hiroshima represents the confluence of Churchill, Truman and Stalin at the conference dividing Germany and Western Europe four days before the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

The exhibition at the end of my residency displayed the series of 95 black and white inkjet prints scanned from my drawings of layered information placed among the already existing bunker displays. Marcia Lea, in the exhibition catalogue, contrasted my work with Martha Rosler’s:

Bourgeois’ use of juxtaposition and the subject matter reference the photo-montage work, Bringing Home the War: House Beautiful, 1967-1994, by American artist Martha Rosler made in protest of the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War. Rosler contrasted the disturbingly different realities of the war zone, as represented by soldiers or casualties, with the idealized home in America, as depicted in magazines …Both Bourgeois and Rosler bring together surprising images and symbols to raise issues concerning war. Bourgeois’ work approaches the Cold War from the perspective of the twenty-first century and although it is recent, it is history. While Rosler compressed ‘here’ and ‘there’, Bourgeois compresses the ‘then’ and ‘now’ … [Cold War Pieces] deals with issues that are relevant, not only to the recent past, but also to the here and now. Bourgeois’ work artistically mines the recent past to inform the critical present.

My approach in these works was to find a way to draw my subject as something intimate, to be looked at closely and to be reflected upon, another look at what is familiar. As an artist I believe my role is parallel to that of the fool in the royal courts of Europe. Only the fool was permitted to speak of a truth to the king. The fool could be beaten if the message displeased, but his role was to report what was observed.


 A Tangential Exploration

Tangential Exploration_RIA Project


Attic drawing I   Attic drawing I_ detail

Drawings and collages developed from Deborah Margo’s Salt and Paper. My works for A Tangential Exploration were produced for and shown in the RIA Artist Project Room, Ottawa. In addition, they have been produced as an envelope project.


RIA Artists Project Room

One Thing Led to Another
The Story of Deborah Margo’s Salt and Paper Intervention and the Tangents and Events that Followed
Petra Halkes (ed.)


DOCUMENTUM ONE –  online catalogue here
 Pages with images and text covering my works:

  • Early Tangential Exploration, pp 12-14
  • Never Forever, pp 29-31
  • Art in Odd Spaces, pp 41-43

RIA (Research in Art)
This is an initiative started by Petra Halkes, artist, writer and curator and her artist-husband Rene Price, who live in Ottawa, Canada. From the local to the global, RIA aims to promote discussions and reading on contemporary art. RIA wants to serve real-life intellectual and social needs of a broad spectrum of artists, art writers, curators, dealers and viewers in Ottawa and the region. RIA takes place but needs no space of its own. Although at the moment most of the events happen at Petra and René’s house, RIA at times branches out to other locations.

RIA (Artist Project Room)
The project room is part of a domestic setting, the living area in Petra and René’s home. From November 2011, [link to my exhibition, Incidental things] the RIA Artist Project Room has been an exciting and very satisfying experience for René and me, and, judging from responses, just as much for the artists that had exhibitions here and the many, many viewers who dropped in.

Beginning in September 2013, with Deborah Margo’s domestic installation Salt and Paper, we looked for different ways of exhibiting art at RIA. Inspired by Anthony Huberman’s  The Artist’s Institute, New York, we used Deborah’s Salt and Paper installation as a springboard for related group or solo shows, discussions, lectures, screenings etc., over a span of twelve months.  Unlike The Artist’s Institute, however, we did not pre-plan any of these events. Also unlike The Artist’s Institute, our focus was not not so much on Deborah, the artist, but on the evolving themes that emerged from her work.  A wrap-up of the year-long project took place on Sept. 7 and 13, 2014.

Petra’s RIA
The Research In Art Project Room has a more personal note. Petra says,  “Ria was my sister, who died in 2006. I like to hear her name”
You can contact Petra Halkes by email at: researchinart.ria@gmail.com