Lorna Brown, Reading, 1990/2015, photographs on mylar, surveyor's tripod, Plexiglas, print on dibond, speakers. Installation view, Audain Gallery, 2015. Photo: Blaine Campbell. SFU Art Collection. Gift of the artist, 2015.

Unpacking Art: Lunchtime Talks on Works in the SFU Art Collection

I must ask you to join me in the disorder of crates that have been wrenched open... to join me among piles of volumes that are seeing daylight again... so that you may be ready to share with me a bit of the mood - it is certainly not an elegiac mood but, rather, one of anticipation.

- Walter Benjamin "Illuminations"


What does it mean to have a public art collection? What purpose does it serve? A public art collection brings together objects that pertain to varied histories, cultures and time periods into one space. The SFU Art Collection has over 5,500 artworks with approximately 1,000 works on public display around SFU's campuses, while the remainder are housed within the art storage vault. The collection is largely regional and Canadian from the 20th century with works ranging from Emily Carr and Bill Reid to Carl Beam and Greg Curnoe. The practice of collecting art in this context is a public endeavour, one that has the ability to provide a framework for diverse discussions to emerge.

Unpacking Art: Lunchtime Talks on Works in the SFU Art Collection took place from January 2017 until September 2018, touching on various themes brought forward by members of the SFU community to "unpack" the context and the questions raised by works of art in the collection. 

Each artwork brought forward during these talks was expanded on given the speaker's background, developing conversations that were contingent on their research and curiosities.

This series encouraged participation from audiences that were new to visual art and to the SFU Art Collection.

Organized by Karina Irvine