All Lost: Dawn Johnston

ALL LOST: Dawn Johnston

May 24 – July 20, 2013

Opening Reception: Thursday, May 23, 2013 7:00-9:00pm

A Conversation between the Artist and Access Director/Curator Kimberly Phillips: Thursday, July 18, 7:00-8:30pm

ALL LOST is a solo exhibition of new work by the Vancouver-based artist Dawn Johnston. A recent MFA graduate from the University of Guelph, Johnston’s practice uses documented and imagined histories as a platform on which to develop complex, immersive installations, video and materially focused sculpture. She reinvents or modifies existing objects and narratives—particularly those involving Canada’s origin myths or the sea—in order to examine issues of labour practices and to explore our relationships with the everyday things that surround us. A number of recent works have involved the artist plating unlikely objects in gold, curiously imbuing them with that material’s metaphysical—even magical—properties. In addition, Johnston’s experience in the construction industry has begun to inform both her process and her interaction with raw materials.

For ALL LOST, Johnston has constructed a 1:1 scale replica of a shipping container within Access’ gallery space using wood and gold plated screws. This work, which will only just fit within the confines of the gallery, calls upon several points of reference. The first is Johnston’s own knowledge of sailing and her recent completion of The Arctic Circle Residency Expedition, wherein she lived and worked on a tall ship for a month, sailing the arctic archipelago with fellow artists, activists, scientists and writers. Her second reference point is the 1986 memoir Adrift, written by Steven Callahan, one of the only individuals known to have survived a capsizing and more than a month alone at sea on a raft. The third point of reference is a fragment of wreckage from the S.S. Pacific, a steamship that sank in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in 1875. The shard of wood, now housed in the Vancouver Maritime Museum, was recovered at the shoreline in Victoria some six weeks after the disaster. Scrawled on its surface were presumably the last words of passenger Sewell Moody: “S.P. Moody. All Lost.” Like those sealed cargo containers accidentally pitched from their vessels and left to drift, forgotten, at sea, Johnston’s ALL LOST suggests the threads of connection that entangle disparate narratives and the insistent ways that recorded histories can contain contents unknown.

Dawn Johnston holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and an M.F.A from the University of Guelph. She is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Scholarship. She has exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions since 2005.

Access Gallery gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Arts Council of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver.

Curated by Shaun Dacey