Satisfying the lust to wander at Rails End
By Angela Long
Published July 12, 2016
Even as the last paintings were being hung, visitors wandered into the Rails End Gallery’s “Wanderlust” exhibition.
Gallery curator and director Laurie Jones wasn’t surprised.
“Lust,” she said. “For Haliburton, that’s edgy.”
Inspired by Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization “come wander” campaign, Jones chose “Wanderlust: the irresistible desire to roam” as this year’s theme for the Haliburton School of Art and Design Faculty Exhibition. She invited 180 HSAD itinerant artists and teachers to embark upon a voyage of their chosen medium. Twenty-eight agreed to participate, creating one-of-a-kind works for the annual exhibition.
Jones was surprised by the wide-ranging results.
“Some responded in playful ways,” she said.”Others spoke to a longing, a thwarted desire the word wanderlust evokes.”
Once a main station for the Victoria Railway, where at its peak in 1880 nearly 70,000 passengers satisfied their desire to roam, the Rails End Gallery is well-suited as a repository of traveller’s dreams. While passenger service ended in the early ‘70s, gallery visitors can still climb aboard to explore what Jones said are exhibitions that challenge perceptions and expand awareness.
Canadian Museums Association summer employee, Allen Amatsuji-Berry, helped Jones hang and light the HSAD show. He pointed to his favourite painting – “far flung” — admiring its bursts of colour obscured by near-transparent layers of white.
“It asks you to look deeper rather than accept what’s on the surface,” he said.
Amatsuji-Berry moved here from Peterborough last week, but already feels at home at Rails End. He stands back from “far flung” and smiles.
“Art has the power to change things,” said Jones. “But most importantly, art makes you happy.”
Saturday’s visitors happily wandered many worlds – from Jill Segal’s Sacred Spaces to Hannah Strand’s Sojourner, from Rob Stimpson’s Destination Unknown to Margaret Ferraro’s River. They travelled from mixed media to needle felting, from digital photography to pastels.
Fabric artist Gayle McIvor created a cloak made from reclaimed denim, batik, embroidery.
“That’s a traveller’s cloak if I ever saw one,” Jones said, pointing to its peaked hood.
After 10 years of thinking up themes for the show, and travelling from her home on Toronto Island to Haliburton, Jones said she’s finally come full circle.
“I started with the idea of attraction, contact. Then moved on to creation. The child that’s in my head can walk now, and they are exploring.”
Jones plans to spin out this circle of life theme as long as possible, she said, “because no one wants to die.”
Wandering is just too irresistible to miss.
Wanderlust runs until Aug. 2.
New summer hours: Tuesday to Thursday: 11-7, Friday 11-6, Saturday 10-5, Sunday 11-4, closed on Mondays. See www.railsendgallery.com for a list of other events, such as ukulele jams and drum circles.