The Laundry Room Gallery is a breath of dryer-fresh air—a small previously unused space, thoughtfully curated, is transformed into a community gathering hub. Featuring a three-day gallery pop up in the new space, located beside the Cochran Bay laundry room at King's College (6350 Coburg Road), and a closing reception April 8 hosted by Emily Lawrence and Kate Walchuk—complete with dryer lint grey cotton candy—you really ought to give this place a spin. We asked some crucial questions about the gallery and organizers Greta Hamilton, Klara Ingersoll, Emily Lawrence answered.
Q: How did you come up with this idea? Did you run into any static from the school about using the space?
A: The idea for the Laundry Room Gallery was born from hanging out a lot in the common space next to the laundry machines. The gallery itself is technically right beside the laundry room, in this sort of limbo space with a sofa and a vending machine. It’s kind of a time vacuum in there, like one of those 10 hour still videos on Youtube, the ones where you can only tell the picture is moving if you stare at the bottom corner of the frame and realize a singular blade of grass is moving in the wind. Anyway, that’s what it feels like to sit in the laundry room, so it only seemed natural to start a gallery in there.
The King’s community has been instrumental in the establishment of the Laundry Room Gallery. The President of King’s, Bill Lahey, donated $2000 from the King's Collegiate Fund. The fund is administered by the President to support initiatives that enhance student life, including those that recognize student innovation or improve the look and function of student spaces. This donation was put towards the renovation of the space by facilities. Facilities plywood backed the walls, painted them white, installed spotlights and added glass panels to the front door.
We also received a donation from the Residence fund that allows us to pay artist fees to every participating artist. Students have also helped with funding and material distribution. Paisley Conrad, a third year student and executive member of SNARC, wrote our funding request. The KSU approved the funding request at a council meeting, which covers installation and opening materials. The KSU also allowed us to use the printer on a modified schedule outside of normal printing hours, which really helped out during this busy time of the school year. And Jacob Baker-Kretzmar, a fourth year student and editor of The Arts Abstract, designed all of our posters.
Q: Who is involved? Have you done any curation before?
A: We collaborated on the curation of the Patchwork exhibition. We have both worked on multiple curatorial projects, including publications and exhibitions. Klara runs a biannual art magazine called Okay Mag that spotlights artists on the East Coast. The mag is currently in its third issue themed around radical love. Klara most recently curated an "Anti-Fascist Valentine's Day" art show and dance party at the Modulating Mansion in February that raised money for Indigenous resistance.
Greta worked as curatorial assistant at the Campbell River Art Gallery in BC, conducting research on Canadian contemporary art with a focus on feminist theory and digital narratives. Greta has curated many collaborative zine projects, founded the King’s zine society, and contributes to The Arts Abstract.
Emily Lawrence and Kate Walchuk will be hosting the closing reception (more info below).
Q: How did the call for art go? Who is showing their work? Did you get a lot of variety in the types of work people wanted to show?
A: We conducted an open call for submissions online through Facebook, as well as by word of mouth through the King’s and NSCAD community. It was a juried submission process. We also reached out to artists we were interested in working with. We had a working list of artists whose work fit our curatorial ambitions and the theme of the exhibition, which is “home.”
Our curatorial ambition was to prioritize femme artists and work that discusses contemporary interpretations of craft. We mostly sought out textiles and ceramics, as well as work that involves a labour intensive material practice. So we ended up with a few print series, drawings and photography. For this exhibition we really wanted to consider notions of labour, craft and our matriarchal lineages in a contemporary setting as a means of understanding “home.” The show is called Patchwork.
A list of participating artists: Shaya Ishaq, Camila Salcedo, Lucy Marrion Pauker, Celeste Cares, Emma Rath, Brianna Dunn, Georgia Sachs, Imogene Broberg-Hull, Klara Ingersoll, Amanda Marie, Sienna Maebe, Lucas McNeely, Gabriel Logan
Missing Sock Hop will feature bunting made from thrifted underwear, cotton candy tinted grey to resemble dryer lint, and the distinctively soapy Thrills gum.
The following week, Halifax artists Emily Lawrence and Kate Walchuk will also be doing a laundry-themed relational installation and dance party called Missing Sock Hop.
Q: Are you going to have an opening or closing reception?
A: The opening reception is Friday, March 31 from 4-7pm in the Cochran Bay Laundry Room. Juice Girls will be playing at 6pm. We will be stitching a patchwork quilt together with found and used fabrics. There will be free pizza and cake, and we will be selling artist made stickers and zines, as well as a zine with the exhibition statement and photos of the work.
The gallery will be open Saturday to Sunday April 1 and 2 from 10-4pm for viewing. The exhibition will be coming down after the weekend, so it is only a three day pop-up.
On Saturday April 8 at 8pm, the closing reception and project fundraiser will take the form of a rock n’ roll, multisensory dance party hosted by Emily Lawrence and Kate Walchuk. Missing Sock Hop will feature bunting made from thrifted underwear, cotton candy tinted grey to resemble dryer lint, and the distinctively soapy Thrills gum. All proceeds will go back into the project and artist fees ($5 cover).
Q: Do you aim to keep this going throughout the year?
A: Yes. The Laundry Room Gallery will now be used on an ongoing basis for curatorial projects. We’d like to host art making sessions, more structured art/craft workshops and facilitate discussions for our community around art accessibility. We’d like to develop this space into a multi-purpose room for folks who are interested in furthering the values of what this show represents, that is, considering the history of femme labour, considering our familial lineages, and collaborating through material practices to consider our collective material record.
Q: Why do you think galleries in unorthodox places are important?
A: Emily and Kate comment on their project Missing Sock Hop and the use of this unorthodox venue: “Missing Sock Hop was conceived as a relational artwork specific to the site of a laundromat, this project is celebration of a utilitarian, often gendered work space, as well as the profound ability of music and dance to bring together disparate communities. Missing Sock Hop is a response to the decline of traditional dance halls and the growing number of unaffordable, inaccessible gathering spaces in our gentrifying Canadian cities. Our experience hosting events and interest in social practice has led us to consider the potential of ‘alternative venues’, which can be temporarily transformed into vibrant spaces.”