On The Road  

Graeme Patterson: Secret Citadel

Saturday, 14 February 2015 to Sunday, 12 April 2015

This latest body of work by Graeme Patterson tells a nostalgic story of two characters who embark on a series of bittersweet adventures. From childhood to adulthood, stages of life are conveyed in idiosyncratic animated videos that accompany large sculptures containing highly detailed miniature worlds. Each of the sculptures reflects on a stage of life. Though Patterson focuses on male friendships, viewers can relate to the subtleties and complexities inherent in all close relationships.

Figures of a bison and a cougar represent Patterson and a childhood friend who moved away. The animals are central characters throughout the loose, yet highly complex narrative that is a point of connection for all the works in the exhibition. In The Mountain, the childhood homes of the young friends are recreated.  Viewers can peer inside tiny windows to see rooms decorated as Patterson remembers them from the 1980s, with furniture and flooring made from tiny Popsicle sticks, and scraps of fabric used for carpet and curtains. In Grudge Match, comprised of a set of gymnasium bleachers, scenes of high school sports are played out in the projection.  Viewers are invited to sit on the first three rows of the bleachers to watch the animation. Two charred bunk beds are joined to form Camp Wakonda, which is populated with dramatic scenes from Patterson's memory including a school bus crash and tiny projected flames. Player Piano Waltz is a functioning player piano that represents the completed transformation to manhood.  A modified cylinder plays Patterson's own composition, which is activated along with projections when viewers deposit a dollar coin. Atop the piano is a model building in which the bison and cougar now enact the pastimes of adulthood.

To conclude the experience of this exhibition, viewers are encouraged to watch Secret Citadel, a 30-minute animation that plays continuously.  This piece brings together the many scenes within each sculpture, and evokes the vulnerabilities of friendship and of loneliness, love and loss.

Graeme Patterson lives in Sackville, New Brunswick.  Since graduating from NSCAD in 2002 his work has shown nationally and internationally including several solo exhibitions at significant Canadian art galleries.  Some of his recent accomplishments include; 2012 Canada Council for the Arts Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award (media arts), Atlantic finalist for the 2014 and 2009 Sobey Art Award, finalist for the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award, and a 2011 Juno award nomination for album package of the year.   

Graeme Patterson: Secret Citadel is co-produced by the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) and is co-curated by Melissa Bennett, Curator of Contemporary Art, AGH and Sarah Fillmore, Chief Curator, AGNS.  Funding assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the city of Lethbridge.
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