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Art Gallery of Guelph launches summer season tonight

Exhibitions exploring Guelph’s history and future on display
Alison Norlen


On Thursday, May 25, at 6:30 pm, the Art Gallery of Guelph launches its summer season featuring two new exhibitions that explore Guelph, its history, and future. All are welcome; refreshments will be served. Participating artists will also be attending. For more information about the opening reception, please visit

Among the new exhibitions on view, Armatures and Imaginaries explores the history of Guelph through the visual storytelling of artist Alison Norlen. Through her large-scale drawings, Norlen immerses the viewer in a visual world inspired by archival records of the local landscape, offering glimpses of monumental Guelph and earlier periods of city-building – from obsolete feats of engineering deployed in 19th-century quarries and bridge construction, to 20th-century civic symbols like the antique carousel installed in Riverside Park and the crown once suspended above St. George’s Square. 

Also featured in the exhibition is a selection of sketches and paintings by well-known Guelph-born artist Evan Macdonald (1905-1972). Drawn from the gallery’s collection, these images document lost buildings of Guelph – architecturally significant 19th-century structures demolished in the 1950s and 1960s during the city's modernization. Capturing both local lore and archival references in meticulous detail, this exhibition highlights the effects of time on an urban landscape and the interplay of memory and imagination that shape our experiences of place as a result. 

Also opening Thursday is the exhibition Temporary Territories, featuring the work of Quebec-based Argentinian artist José Luis Torres. Repurposing found materials, Torres transforms spaces with large-scale installations that make us see objects of daily life in new ways, creating DIY architectures that speak to informal settlements and nomadic spaces associated with experiences of migration and exile.

Integrating aged and discarded furnishings with connections to the community, Torres uses strategies of reconstruction and assimilation deeply familiar to immigrants, refugees, and migrants as they shape and are reshaped by the new territories they find themselves in. The gallery is grateful for the support of the Circle Home Furniture Bank, an initiative of Danby Appliances, as well as ReStore, operated by Habitat for Humanity, for their collaboration in the development of this exhibition.


This summer, the gallery also presents the exhibitions of two Master of Fine Arts students from the University of Guelph. Chelsea Ryan: be(hold)-ing opens May 25, while Samuelle Grande: Out of the blue, opens July 14. Both represent the culmination of two years of work in the School of Fine Art and Music at the University of Guelph.