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Tools of the Maker


22 June - 20 October


22 June
20 October

Curated by

Emily Falvey and Jane Tisdale


Looking into an artist’s studio, a beaded work in progress is surrounded by their tools, including jars of colourful beads, scissors, a pin cushion, and a smudge bowl. Behind the table is a window. The landscape beyond of rolling hills stretches to a body of water and mountains, beneath a blue sky with fluffy white clouds.

Tools of the Maker

Carrie Allison, Masato Arikushi, Mel Beaulieu, Arthur Brecken, Joyce Chown, Beth Mann Couillard, Jean Dixon, Marjory Rogers Donaldson, Margaret Harris Fraser, Betty Sawler Goble, John Hammond, Ursula Johnson, Wenda Lyons, Patricia Pollett McClelland, Margaret Fraser Murray, Ethel Ogden, Greta Ogden, Mary Pratt, Ellis Roulston, Dan Steeves, The Notman Studio, Ermine Thompson, Muriel Thompson

About the Exhibition

Tools of the Maker explores the relationship between artistic practice and craftsmanship through a selection of works and art tools from the Owens’ permanent collection. It is organized around a recent commission and acquisition: Tools of the Maker, by Mi’kmaw artist Mel Beaulieu. Made using traditional beading techniques, this intricate snapshot of the artist’s studio shows a work in progress surrounded by their tools, including jars of colourful beads, scissors, a pin cushion, and a smudge bowl. The landscape outside the window connects the creative process back to the gifts of the land, and offers a new perspective on traditional Indigenous creative practices in contemporary art.

Among the works on display is another important recent acquisition: the woodblocks carved by Japanese master printmaker Masato Arikushi for Mary Pratt’s print A Glow of Grapes on Garnet Glass, 2002 (part of the series Transformations, 1993-2002). This generous gift from the Pratt Family shows the labour and skill required to make this spectacular print. Of her nine-year creative exchange with Arikushi, Pratt once wrote, “I found an artisan who understood my ideas so well that he needed little input from me once he had studied the paintings I provided. Gradually his own ideas melded with my original images, and I detected his own imagery inserting itself into my own. I liked that. It all fit.”

Drawing from both the historical and contemporary collections, the exhibition also includes works associated with the Mount Allison Ladies’ College, the Mount Allison Fine Arts Department, and the Applied Arts Program (1906-1960). These works further explore the techniques, labour, and materials required to make art objects through the display of an array of tools, including cancelled intaglio plates, silver jewellery making tools, porcelain pigments, design sketches, textile graphs, and photographic sources. These materials are displayed alongside the final works they were used to create, and they show a variety of behind-the-scenes fine and applied arts processes.

Image Gallery

Meet Mel Beaulieu


The stairs to the Owens from the entrance nearest the University Chapel have a handrail. There is also ramp access at this entrance, however, the ramp is steep. The stairs to the Owens entrance off York Street also have a handrail, but there is no ramp. The main floor of the Owens is wheelchair accessible. Our second-floor gallery is not wheelchair accessible. Two flights of stairs lead to the second floor. Find more information at owensartgallery.com/visit/accessibility/