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Artists’ knitting machine uses visitor data to collectively build a colourful woollen artwork at OAGs

July 12, 2021

Press Release

The Ottawa Art Gallery re-opens on July 21st, 2021

Ottawa ON, July 12th, 2021 – The Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) is pleased to be able to reopen its doors to the public on Wednesday July 21st, 2021. As well as re-opening 3 exhibitions, the Gallery is inaugurating a photography exhibit in Galerie Annexe and new artworks months in the making by teams of local artists.

By simply walking into the building at 10 Daly, visitors will bring an interactive knitting sculpture to life, in real time. The re-opening will also be the occasion for visitors to celebrate the reveal of an immersive mural painted directly on the Gallery walls over the month of June.

Ottawa, YOUR ART IS HERE, and you can be part of it, affect it and experience it. OAG is where connection happens between Art and City.

Re-entering OAG will be a little bit different thanks to the interactive knitting machine The Life of a Building by Ottawa-based artists Greta Grip and Lee Jones. Linked to digital platforms and sensors in the Gallery, the knitting machine will respond to visitors by producing a knitted full circular row. Growing longer, and piling up as each interaction is documented, the knitted creation will be a record of OAG activity over the course of one year.

Exhibited in the Mackenzie lobby, visitors will be able to watch the machine respond to both on-site interaction and activity generated from the OAG website. The community at large can add stitches too by pushing the KNIT button on the Gallery’s website, watching the stitches form via the soon-to be added live webcam, and becoming part of the collective OAG community. The tube-shaped knitting project will grow, with each month reflected by a different colour. The final piece will be a visual showcase of visitor data as the Gallery, and our city emerges from the pandemic. “It takes the community to build this. This is an ideal pandemic recovery project.” said the artists. In contrast to most recording methods, our record of this year will be an imperfect, tangible, soft, colourful, knitted tube.”

“We will be able to gauge how the OAG will come back to life, with each month. It will require a collective presence for it to be created. We will have a visual knitted representation of The Life of a Building.”  – Greta Grip and Lee Jones

The 3-part mural and sound installation titled Carved Reflections was painted over the month of June directly on the Gallery walls, on OAG’s fourth floor. It is the result of an open-call launched following community consultations a year ago at OAG, in connection with Ottawa Black Art Kollective (OBAK). Artists Sarah-Mecca Abdourahman and Laurena Finéus, like many diasporic Canadians, grew up contending with media coverage of their countries of family origin, filtered through technologies and screens. While Finèus digested a constant flow of harmful images and narratives of Haiti’s devastation by its 2010 earthquake, Abdourahman similarly felt inundated by references to the poverty and violence of both Somalia and India. As young Black Canadians, these two artists had common feelings of unease, numbness, and disconnect in relation to this. The artists describe their co-creation of this mural installation as “a wonderful experience and we are extremely grateful for everything that we learned throughout this process. Each mural creates a submerged experience of the diasporic consciousness and it presents the viewers with various stages of the Black existence. We decided to take on the theme of ‘Filtered’ as a criticism of the images/narratives that have too commonly made themselves home on all of our screens. We asked ourselves what are the impacts of growing up immersed in this westernized digital culture as somali/indian and haitian?.” They went on to say, “We’d like to thank the Ottawa Black Art Kollective, our mentor Curtia Wright and the Ottawa Art Gallery for giving us the chance and resources to do this mural. But we are even more grateful to each other for the wonderful friendship that emerged from it.”

The Life of a Building and Carved Reflections are part of the exhibition Filtered.

OAG is always FREE, but everyone is asked to pre-book visits either online or by phone. Measures are in place in order to keep visitors and staff healthy and safe. Gallery hours are, starting July 21st, Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm.

OAG exhibitions dates are as follows: Sheltered in Place: Portraits of Self, Family and Community, featuring the work of Chantal Dahan, Max Dean, Christopher Lea Dunning, Robert S. Hyndman, Patrice James, Martha Kyak, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, Ron Noganosh, Faisa Omer, Jessie Oonark, and Annie Pootoogook, on the 3rd floor, until November 7, 2021; Filtered, with the work of Sarah-Mecca Abdourahman, Craig Commanda, AM Dumouchel, Laurena Finéus, Greta Grip, Lee Jones, Farouk Kaspaules, Peter Owusu-Ansah, Christos Pantieras, and Art Price, on the 4th floor until January 2, 2022; Stéphane Alexis: Chains & Crowns, a photography exhibition in Galerie Annexe, will run until 12 September, 2021; and (Re)Collecting the Group of Seven: Celebrating 100 Years in the Firestone Gallery will now end on January 23rd, 2022.

Press images and artwork information


Carved Reflections

(Re)Collecting the Group of Seven: Celebrating 100 Years

Stéphane Alexis: Chains & Crowns

Sheltered in Place: Portraits of Self, Family and Community:

The Life of a Building press images will soon be available. Follow this link for the artist statement and a clip of the machine in action:

OAG location and contact
10 Daly Avenue, Ottawa, ON, K1N 0C5, CANADA | 613.233.8699 |

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For media enquiries, to book an interview with artists or a tour, please contact:
Véronique Couillard
Officer, Media, Public and Francophone Relations

About the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG)
The Ottawa Art Gallery is situated on traditional Anishinābe Aki and is Ottawa’s municipal art gallery and cultural hub. Located in Ottawa’s downtown core, the expanded Gallery is a contemporary luminous cube designed by KPMB Architects and Régis Côté et associés.
OAG receives funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the City of Ottawa.


OAG is Open from 10 AM to 6 PM Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday | from 10 AM to 9 PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Admission is always FREE.