Meet Parvathi Bhat Giliyal – Our New Gallery Educator

Parvathi Bhat Giliyal is the RMG’s new Gallery Educator. Prior to joining us, she was working as a visual artist and graphic designer, as well as art gallery management and art education. Drop by the RMG and say hello!


RMG: What were you up to before the RMG?

Parvathi: In the last 5 years I’ve been Gallery co-ordinator, educator, graphic designer and curator besides actively exhibiting my paintings in India. When an opportunity to move to Canada came up, I jumped at the new and exciting possibilities that may open up to me in the art and museum sector of Ontario. So far, the RMG has been everything I’d imagined my life here to be!

RMG: What drew you to the museum sector?

Parvathi: As an artist, the gallery and museum life was my calling. My father and I would spend a lot of time in museums and we believed in engaging with every piece of art. From a very young age, I believed that I could grow into a better artist through awareness and exposure to art of any kind.

RMG: What is your favourite museum?

Parvathi: The National Gallery of Modern Art in Bangalore, India, the city I grew up in and The Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France. The former for its vast collection of my favourite Indian art works and the many hours of talks and lectures that I attended; and the latter for the fantastic opportunity it gave me to experience all the European greats that I had only read about until that point.

RMG: What is your first memory of art?

Parvathi: My first memory of art would have to be watching my father work on his oils in our tiny living room, randomly throwing tips at me on the hows and whys of oil painting. It is funny how I was always surrounded by art but took me until my last day in college to realize I needed to be in the art world.

RMG: What is one thing that you want to share with people about the RMG?

Parvathi: The RMG has something for everyone. The spectacular permanent collection on display, Art classes, Art workshops, Residency programs, RMG Fridays with its live music and film features, the list is endless! I feel it is all about taking that first step inside the gallery and never wanting to leave!


Jock Macdonald: Evolving Form – Special Programs

This winter we’re offering an in-depth  learning series about the artist and educator Jock Macdonald.

Over 60 years ago, Alexandra Luke organized The Canadian Abstract Exhibition for the YWCA in Oshawa, giving birth to abstraction in Ontario and a collective of artists who would go on to call themselves Painters Eleven. Jock Macdonald, a member of this illustrious group, is regarded as an early visionary, leading the way in automatic and abstract painting in Canada.

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery is thrilled to present Jock Macdonald: Evolving Form, the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in over thirty years and the only venue to host the exhibition, east of British Columbia. The exhibition provides a fresh look at Macdonald’s artistic practice and includes for the first time, previously unknown Automatics, discovered in the archives of The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art by the RMG’s Senior Curator Linda Jansma.

Jock Macdonald: Evolving Form
3 February, 2015 – 24 May, 2015

Opening Reception
RMG Fridays, 6 March 2015, 7-9pm

Talk and Tour with Pete Smith and Linda Jansma, Curator of Jock Macdonald: Evolving Form
Sunday 1 February, 1-3pm

ArtLab artist in residence Pete Smith will discuss his relationship to abstraction and the development of his recent ArtLab installation. Senior Curator, Linda Jansma will share the story of her discovery of the previously unknown Macdonald works, followed by a guided tour of Jock Macdonald: Evolving Form.

Abstraction in Canada: The Legacy of Jock Macdonald

Saturday 7 March 2015, 10am-4pm

Lunch and refreshments included. Registration required $20 / $15 students
Free for RMG Members.

This one-day symposium will explore the life and work of Canadian painter Jock Macdonald, including postwar abstraction in Canada and Macdonald’s influence on the last century of Canadian art.  This event is held in conjunction with Jock Macdonald: Evolving Form —the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in over thirty years. The day will include an in-depth tour of the exhibition, a light lunch and refreshments and presentations from art historians, researchers, students and curators. 

Call for proposals

The RMG invites diverse session proposals that contribute to our understanding of postwar abstraction in Canada, including the work of Jock Macdonald and Painters Eleven.

Session proposals may cover history, theory and criticism, museum and curatorial practice, contemporary work, and artistic practice. Please submit your CV and a 300 word abstract to Elizabeth Sweeney at by January 15, 2015. 


In conjunction with Jock Macdonald: Evolving Form the RMG is proud to launch a special exhibition website detailing the artist’s life with an extended timeline, live drawing tool and interactive gallery of artworks. This is the first time the artist’s work has been available online in an interactive, web-based format.


Jock Macdonald: Evolving Form is accompanied by a major book co-published by The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and Black Dog Publishing, featuring texts by each curator, an essay by scholar Dr. Anna Hudson, excerpts from Macdonald’s correspondence and a diary the artist kept while living in Nootka Sound from 1935 to 1936. Available at the RMG shop.

School Enrichment Programs
February 2015 – May 2015
Grades JK-12

This comprehensive school enrichment program includes an interactive tour of Jock Macdonald: Evolving Form, proving an easy and engaging introduction to the world of abstraction. Students will also visit the studio and experiment with watercolour and ink to create an abstract artwork inspired by the exhibition. Visit the Teachers Corner on our website to learn more.

OPG Second Sundays!
12 April: Amazing Abstractions                                                                                                                                     We are letting our imaginations loose! Inspired by the Jock Macdonald: Evolving Form exhibition, we create watercolour paintings, unique abstracted pinwheels, silly sculptures and a collaborative abstract floor art. Free.

Top image: Jock Macdonald, Untitled, 1954 (Detail), Collection of the Robert McLaughlin Gallery

Introducing Gallery A

Introducing Gallery A – Fulfilling the Legacy of Aleen Aked and paving the way for collaboration, local artistic exposure and the growth of our vibrant arts community. Please join us for the Grand Opening at RMG Fridays on 9 January.

Elizabeth Aleen Aked was an accomplished artist and a woman with a strong sense of the history and culture of the places she lived, especially her summer home and studio in Tyrone, Ontario. Miss Aked died in 2003; in her estate, a generous portion of her legacy was gifted to The Robert McLaughlin Gallery.

With the support of the Aked Endowment and funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, the RMG is thrilled to embark on an exciting new initiative aimed at fostering a thriving local arts community.

During the summer of 2014, the RMG was under major renovations to create a professional exhibition space reserved for exhibiting the work of local artists, community collaborations, and themed group exhibits. The new space, features a professional gallery, an artist studio and rooms designed for bringing together arts communities.

Opportunities are available for community partnerships and special initiatives as well as artist residencies that prioritizes artists who wish to experiment with new ideas, collaborate, and work in new directions. Artists will have increased opportunities to give public talks, participate in professional development workshops, and give and receive critical feedback from peers. Programming of this space is separate from our curatorial planning and proposal selections are made with a jury of local artists and arts professionals.

We invite you to visit the new space, take a workshop or apply for an opportunity at Gallery A. 

Get Involved!

Grand Opening:

RMG Fridays on Friday 9 January, 7 pm

Information Session:

Thursday 26 February, 7 – 8 pm

Application Deadline:

Sunday 15 March. Projects will take place from September 2015 to February 2016. Application form found at

On View

1 December, 2014 – 1 February 2015
Gallery A & Art Lab: Pete Smith, artist residency

4 February – 1 March, 2015
Gallery A:  Ruth Greenlaw
Art Lab: Toni Hamel, artist residency

3 March -29 March, 2015
Gallery A & Art Lab:  Toni Hamel, artist residency

31 March– 12 April, 2015
Gallery A: Speak Up! Youth Art Exhibition

14 April – 28 April, 2015
Gallery A: Durham College Fine Arts Graduate Thesis Exhibition


Sunday 1 February, 1 – 3pm
Talk and Tour with Artist, Pete Smith and Senior Curator, Linda Jansma

RMG Fridays: 6 February, 7-10pm
Opening reception: Ruth Greenlaw

Sunday 22 February, 1-3pm
Talk and Tour with artists Ruth Greenlaw and Margaret Rodgers

Sunday 29 March, 1 – 3pm
Talk and Tour with Artist Toni Hamel and Running on Empty Curator Heather Nicol

Sunday 19 April, 1 – 3pm
Opening Reception: Durham College Fine Arts Graduate Thesis Exhibition

Workshops for Artists

Register online – spaces are limited.

Saturday 10 January, 1 – 3pm
Drawing Workshop with Ron Shuebrook

Ron Shuebrook will lead a workshop about the use of memories as a catalyst for art, while also considering aesthetic forms and expressive processes. Participants will explore a variety of graphic media such as graphite, charcoal, or ink, based on their interests. All materials provided but students are welcome to bring their own tools and materials if they prefer.

Registration required. $25 Members/ $35 Non-Members / Free for adults registered in Winter/Spring 2015 art classes

Sunday 15 February, 1 – 3pm
Grant Writing and Funding Opportunities for Artists

Zhe Gu, Visual Arts Officer at the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) will lead this workshop aimed at professional Visual artists and Fine Craft artists. The workshop will cover the types of grants available, the selection process and how to prepare an effective application. Please bring any applications in progress, your artist statement, or previous grant text.

Free. Registration required.

Thursday 30 April – Saturday 2 May
By appointment during Gallery hours
Artwork Documentation Station

Over the course of three days, artists may document their artwork in an environment designed for effective, professional documentation. RMG staff will be on hand with the appropriate lighting, hanging and photographic equipment. Artists may bring their own camera, or alternately a 10GB USB memory stick to transfer images onto. Maximum of five artworks, no larger than 7ft x 7ft. Wall-mounted works only.

Free. Registration required.

Sunday 7 March, 10am – 4pm

Abstraction in Canada: The Legacy of Jock Macdonald

Lunch and refreshments included.

$20 / $15 students / Free for RMG Members

Gallery A

Things are changing around here.

As some of you may have heard, we’re undergoing renovations right now and one of the biggest changes is the creation of Gallery A.

Aileen’s Legacy

The space is named for one of our major funders,  the Aked Endowment, which was created from funds donated by the late artist Elizabeth Aileen Aked, who lived in Tyrone, Ontario. Aileen and her parents frequently traveled between Tyrone, Bermuda, Florida and England and Aileen documented every moment of it. Throughout the spring, I worked with Christine our Special Projects Assistant, to go through Aileen’s archive which totaled over 10 banker boxes filled with a lifetime of slides, photographs and 16mm films. (Aileen’s gift also included her 1928 Kodak Kodascope, which was lovingly restored to full working order by Pickering Audio Visual). The films, which date as far back is the early 1920’s,  are probably my favourite – these rich black and white silent films, depict her and her family on long rambling road trips in their classic antique Buick, pet parrot in tow. The films include scenic vistas of Gaspe, a road trip to Banff National Park, road-side picnics and sun-filled summer swims.


During all of these trips, Aileen spent a lot of her time painting, and she was an accomplished painter. As an artist, her donation to The Robert McLaughlin Gallery was quite purposeful – she wanted the endowment to support local artists in their professional development and provide opportunities for them to advance their practice.

A Place for Artists

In addition to being the Manager of Public Programs here at the RMG, I’m also an artist and when I came into this position almost 2 years ago, we started thinking about how best to achieve Aileen’s vision. I know that for myself, professional spaces to exhibit are not easy to come by and are often programmed far in advance. I’m always looking for opportunities (and space!) to experiment with new ideas and work with large materials and I want more opportunities to talk with other artists critically about my work.

After surveying and speaking with local artists, the concept of Gallery A was born. We decided to keep the use of the space flexible, to allow artists options in how they wanted to use it. I am imagining most will want to use it for solo or group exhibitions, but there is room for creativity, and thinking outside of the box. We also set up the Art Lab artist residency program so artists can use the space for experimentation, collaborations, new directions and this will hopefully lead to some new exciting work.  Gallery A artists will be invited to give public lectures and tours, and we’ll be hosting a slew of professional development workshops, including grant writing, documenting your work, peer-to-peer feedback sessions and hands-on studio retreats.

The letter A is a starting point.  It represents a new beginning, and a priority.

It represents our commitment to supporting local artists, which are at the center of Durham Region’s arts community. It all starts with artists. Gallery A can be a starting place for emerging artists as a new generation emerges from Durham Collage’s Fine Arts program. It can be a place for established artists, to exhibit their work, collaborate with peers, and perhaps even take some risks. And it can be a meeting place for communities to work with artists to engage in the arts in ways they had never imagined before. The possibilities for the space are wide open – all you have to do is get started.


Information Sessions:

Thursday 18 September 7pm

Sunday 19 October, 1pm


To find out more and to access the guidelines and application form, please follow this link:

Free Family Programming for 2013

Happy New Year!

It isn’t an overstatement to say that in 2013 the RMG has big plans to expand our programming to include lots of new free opportunities for families to engage with art. We love our community and we know that families work hard all week and want to hang out on the weekend and have quality family time. We’re hoping that in 2013 you’ll choose the RMG once a month as a place to learn, connect, and communicate with your family through the creative arts.
In 2012 we launched the incredibly successful OPG Second Sundays program. It’s a free art workshop series on the second Sunday of each month, sponsored by Ontario Power Generation. We had a great response and held many jam-packed art workshops. Due to popular demand, we’re expanding that program this year so that registration is no longer required, and all are welcome! All families should drop-in between 1 and 3pm on the Second Sunday of each month to work with gallery staff on guided art projects with themes celebrating the Lunar New Year as well as our many exhibitions.

Check out the OPG Second Sundays Schedule here.

ImageWe’re also introducing a new space in the gallery that is dedicated to families who want to visit the exhibitions with kids, and provide a chance for them to play, learn, and be inspired by art. Linger in the new Imagination Station! This space is currently being transformed into a family-friendly area with seating, books, toys, craft supplies, and cool interactive tools that will inspire, educate, and engage kids of all ages and abilities. The Imagination Station is launching in February, with an opening party on Family Day, Monday, 18 February. We are opening on Family Day for the first time in 2013 and are offering a free program to families. Come check out what we’re up to from 1-3pm. Enjoy light refreshments and a chance to try out the new Imagination Station (we’re calling it iStation for short!) The following weekend, we begin the regular iStation schedule, with the space being managed by trained educational volunteers who will help manage and guide craft projects, every Saturday and Sunday. 

You might think that was all we planned to offer in early 2013…but you’d be wrong! We’re also hosting a Festival of Colours celebration for families on Sunday 24 March. Phew!

ImageIf you’ve ever considered enrolling kids in our PA Day Camps, March Break Camps or Summer Camps, these free family sessions will help familiarize you and your kids with staff and the facility, so that the transition to full day camps is easy and exciting.

The RMG’s staff and volunteers are looking forward to meeting new families and connecting in new ways our community. If you have any questions about our free family programming, do not hesitate to connect with us. Email us at or drop us a line on facebook at