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Artist explores history of old Corner Brook CO-OP through exhibition titled Remnants

Corner Brook artist and Grenfell Visual Arts student Emily Critch poses in the Tina Dolter gallery where her exhibition Remnants is currently on display.
Corner Brook artist and Grenfell Visual Arts student Emily Critch poses in the Tina Dolter gallery where her exhibition Remnants is currently on display.

Emily Critch believes she has captured and re-contextualized a part of Corner Brook history in her exhibition “Remnants,” which is currently on display at the Rotary Arts Centre’s downstairs Tina Dolter gallery.

The gallery came out of a recent residency program involving the Corner Brook Museum and Archives, Grenfell Visual Arts Program, and the Rotary Arts Centre. The residency aimed to foster a deeper understanding of the cultural, historic, and heritage resources of the Museum and Archives within visual arts students studying at Grenfell Campus.

With “Remnants,” Critch says she delved into the time period following the closure of the old Corner Brook Co-op building until its demolition in 2008, capturing and re-contextualizing photographs of the Co-op before its closure.

Critch, who grew up in Corner Brook, says she knew she wanted to make an exhibition about the old photos as soon as she first saw them.  

“It was really strange to see all the photos of it gutted-out from the inside, because I used to get groceries in it with my grandparents. I can remember walking around the store and then I saw all these photos of it gutted-out before it was to be demolished.”

Critch then took the photos from the Museum and Archives, and transferred them into cyanotypes — a historical photo-process that was once a cheap way for people to make blueprints.

This process was a large part of Critch’s residence, and the cynatypes became a visual reference for “Remnants.” However, the exhibition also sees Critch work within the mediums of sculpture and installation.

Critch credits art programs and painting lessons that were available to her as a kid growing up in Corner Brook for her early conception of what her life would entail as an artist, but says she wasn’t exposed to these other mediums like sculpture until she spent the summer in England as part of a distance course in Art History, and spent a lot of time in different galleries.

“I think seeing all that type of art work really influenced me and I thought maybe I’ll try that as well.”

The residency saw Critch prepare a full exhibition of her work for the first time; something she says was a huge challenge. It forced her into considering not only the individual pieces she was working on, but also the overarching theme of the exhibition, and how the pieces would be presented in the gallery space at the Rotary Arts Centre.

The residency was also the first time this type of program was offered to a student artist.

“Remnants” is currently on display at the Rotary Arts Centre’s Tina Dolter gallery until Sept. 22.

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