The Belkin is pleased to announce that Toby Lawrence has been appointed the gallery’s Curator of Outdoor Art beginning 10 October 10 2023. Lawrence will replace Barbara Cole, who has served in this position since 2017.
“We are thrilled to welcome Toby to her new role at the Belkin,” said the Belkin’s Acting Director Melanie O’Brian. “Toby’s experience in curating, planning and realizing projects with artists and community is exceptional. The Belkin welcomes her ideas and expertise in developing future outdoor art projects and increasing the porous dialogue between the ways art and its ideas are articulated across communities, sites and spaces.”
Toby Lawrence is a curator, writer and collaborator with fifteen years of curatorial and programming experience. Prior to the Belkin, Lawrence was Curator at Open Space in Victoria where she explored the potential of gathering, radical care and long-term relationship-building inside and outside of gallery spaces, working with artists and contributors including Rain Cabana-Boucher, Paul de Guzman, Camille Georgeson-Usher, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Guadalupe Martinez, Manuel Axel Strain, Josh Tengan and Jinny Yu.
“I see immense opportunity in the role of Curator of Outdoor Art to continue building the outdoor art collection in ways that address significant representational gaps, and for collaboratively curated considerations using art as a catalyst for meaningful and interdisciplinary dialogue,” said Lawrence. “I look forward to working with the Belkin team to build projects that explore what public art and public space mean for the many communities that use and move through the UBC campus.”
Lawrence is co-founder of Moss Projects: Curatorial Learning and Research Program in collaboration with Michelle Jacques and was a 2019 curatorial resident of the Otis College of Art and Design Emerging Curators Retreat in Los Angeles, a contributing curator for the inaugural Contingencies of Care Residency hosted by OCAD University, Toronto Biennial of Art and BUSH Gallery, and was appointed to the BC Arts Council in 2023. She is currently a member of the Royal BC Museum Collections and Research Building Public Art Committee and, previously, chair of the City of Victoria Art in Public Places Committee. Lawrence holds an MA in Art History and Theory from UBC and a PhD focused on curatorial practice from UBC Okanagan, supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship. Recent publications include “Curatorial Insiders/Outsiders: Speaking Outside and Collaboration as Strategic Intervention” in Indigenous Media Arts in Canada, co-edited by Dana Claxton and Ezra Winton (2023), with forthcoming book chapters for Creative Conciliations: Reflections, Responses, and Refusals and Curatorial Contestations: Critical Methods in Contemporary Exhibition-Making in Canada.
The Belkin also takes this opportunity to thank Barbara Cole for her exceptional contribution to the gallery, its community and its environs through her six-year tenure as Curator of Outdoor Art. Cole was committed to animating the outdoor art collection and imagining the outdoor space on campus as a democratic place of experimentation, exploration and research. During the pandemic lockdown, Cole worked with colleagues in the School of Music to produce Sonic Responses, a series of performances by faculty and students playing in campus locations that were suddenly silent. During Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts, Cole worked with Musqueam artist Diamond Point to commission and install a sequence of banners along the full length of UBC’s Main Mall, which were further animated by a remarkable performance by Coastal Wolf Pack. Cole initiated and stewarded the artist-in-residence program with Holly Schmidt, a five-year slow residency that saw Schmidt creatively engaging with plant life as a significant source of life, connection and learning for long-term change. Cole guided numerous permanent artworks to completion, including The Shadow by Esther Shalev-Gerz and most recently working closely with Kayám̓ Richard Campbell and James Hart, 7idansuu (Edenshaw) to commission and install θəʔit, the bronze disc that now anchors Hart’s Reconciliation Pole to Musqueam Territory. Cole also oversaw the acquisition and installation of Stela I and Stela II by Elza Mayhew and the refurbishment and reinstallation of Robert Murray’s Cumbria. “Working with art in public space is never a solo endeavour,” said Cole. “I have valued the perspectives and knowledge that artists, the Belkin team, Musqueam community members and colleagues from many different departments and areas across campus have so generously shared with me in the process of building and caring for the Outdoor Art collection at UBC.” We thank Barbara for her thoughtful commitment to the Belkin and the artists with whom we work.