Window gallery brings art into everyday

Artist in Profile

Union Gallery curator Jocelyn Purdie took her work home with her, creating a public art space at the front of her house.
Union Gallery curator Jocelyn Purdie took her work home with her, creating a public art space at the front of her house.

Who: Jocelyn Purdie, MA ’08

Medium: Presently focusing on curatorial work, in the past she has worked with multimedia, textiles and installation.

Where you may have seen her work: Curatorial work at the Union Gallery and at the Swamp Ward Window (448 Bagot St.)—an independent gallery in the front window and porch of her home.

What inspired you to start the Swamp Ward Window project?

It was after a number of conversations with friends interested in alternative sites. I was thinking about doing a show in my home, in small spaces in my home, but then you have the problem of bringing the public into your home. The idea of using the front porch evolved from that.

It was a nice interface with the street, it provided the opportunity to present it to a non-art public, to reach a boarder audience. To put it out there and make it a part of everyday life.

What do you look for when curating shows at the Swamp Ward Window?

Essentially I’m looking for work that relates somehow to the context of the home and it being that public/private interface, or that addresses the neighbourhood. In that there’s lots of room for artists to work with.

It needs to be something that works with that space. It can’t block off the light to my living room and sound—it can’t be too loud, because it’s intervening into the street, which is a public space.

Sometimes it is a very active piece like that and sometimes it’s more static.

Why the name “Swamp Ward Window”?

It comes from a term used to describe that area. Previously that swampy area by the water, before it was built up for other purposes, really was swamp land. It was a historical nickname in the area that was used and I picked up on that.

How is curating the Swamp Ward Window different that curating a show at the Union Gallery?

Because it is an alternative site, it can be a little more spontaneous because of the nature of the spot. When curating a gallery or museum, there are certain expectations from the public. … It’s quite a different experience in the neighbourhood, when it’s at an alternative space.

It’s very different with that venue, because you don’t always see the reaction. Of course I hear feedback from people that know me, but I don’t get a lot of input from people who might not enjoy it.

Even people who aren’t familiar with contemporary art engage with it somehow. Even the negative comments—it would be nice to be able to get more feedback.

What’s coming up for the Swamp Ward Window?

Ted Reddick, who is a fairly established artist, is going to present a piece. It’s probably an evening piece and it involves light and curtains and text on the windows, and that will be going up in February.

—Meghan Sheffield

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