Elizabeth Fennell has a knack for turning nothing into something. She is a wizard at creating galleries in unusual spaces – in a house, in a truck, and now in an attic – the iconic Roy Studio on the 3rd floor of 140 1/2 Hunter St .
The three generations of the Roy family of commercial photographers captured images of Peterborough for almost a century. You can see their legacy in The Balsillie Collection of Roy Studio Images which consists of approximately 300,000 glass plate and film negatives, now managed by the Archival department of the Peterborough Museum & Archives. The photos document the people of Peterborough’s early boom years – rich and poor, young and old.
The Roy family operated out of the Roy Studio where Fennell’s current Gallery in the Attic resides. As you reach the third floor landing of the gallery, there is the feeling of entering a time warp. The vestiges of a working studio still reverberate in its Victorian cabinetry, well-worn wood floors, slanting skylights and remnants of tin ceiling. Even a trace of turn of the century cigar smoke lingers. Over the years, many of our favourite local artists have rented this largely unrenovated space as a studio including Beth McCubbin and John Climenhage.
But none of them have managed to inhabit the space the way that Fennell has. Serendipitously, she had researched the Roy Studio for a master’s paper, and she doesn’t just appreciate the architecture, she understands how to bring it to life.
Now the home of the Little Red Hen Collective, the Gallery in the Attic will feature group and solo shows, as well as hosting events and workshops. The Collective is comprised of a solidly eclectic mix of some of Peterborough’s notable creatives – Bill Batten, Lucky Jackson, Joe Stable, John Marris, Roz Hermant, Jeff Macklin, Paul Oldham and Dale Brownson to name a few. Fennell has a good eye and is modestly passionate about local art, local artists and local history. She often can’t resist acquiring work from her stable of painters, sculptors, photographers and craftspeople for her personal collection. Uniquely she combines a flair for curating contemporary art with a reverence for the past.
Be sure to check out Steppenwill‘s solo exhibit opening on October 19th and on until November 9th, 2012. He is one of Peterborough’s most original artists. Playing with method-based digital and patterned imagery that borders on surrealism, his paintings and prints are largely in dramatic black and white . His work is animated and elegantly raw. Three of his works can also be seen in the window of Artspace as part of its FutureTense show until October 27, 2012.
On November 17th to December 26th the Little Red Hen Collective returns with a holiday show that you won’t want to miss. And don’t be surprised if you see other incarnations of a Liz Fennell gallery popping up around Peterborough in the future.