Journal Entry #3

Journal Entry#3: Choose an exhibition at the AGO (or another gallery). Be sure to label the exhibition and the gallery it is located in. Include an image if you can. Write a critical response of the art works, discuss how the work is curated, what would make it stronger, reference the names of artists in the gallery and provide feedback on how the exhibition could be more inclusive if not already.

The exhibition ‘Once Upon a Time’ was shown in the TD gallery at the Toronto Reference Library featuring artworks from the Osborne collection of Early Children’s Books.

The artworks shown ranged from the 1800s to contemporary. For example, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ illustrated by Thomas Webster is made in 1843 is hanged next to another illustration of the same scene by Mireille Levert in 1995. These two artworks are shown side by side, providing insight on how fairy tales are perceived in different time periods.The illustration by Webster shows the original intention and moral of the folk tale: warning young girls from interacting with dangerous men, whereas Levert’s artwork shows a contemporary perspective on the tale as Little Red Riding Hood looks like a little girl rather than a young adult, showing that today this tale doesn’t focus on its initial moral but encourages little ones to obey their parents.

Another comparison of historical views on classic stories is provided through two illustrations of Cinderella where the first illustration is very detailed and focuses on the beauty of its characters, and the more recent one is made of scribbles and undefined lines, and puts emphasis on the action taking place and the plot line rather than the physical traits of the character.

All the illustrations and artworks exhibited are made by Western artists, although some diversity is demonstrated in showing tales from minority backgrounds: Jewish, Chukchi, Japanese and Korean stories.

The work is curated in many forms. Some illustrations are hanged on the wall with a description next to them that also includes a summary of the less known stories to provide a background on the tales. The exhibition presents various methods of communicating stories through art. It includes books, games, film and ceramics. It also has a small table with paper and colouring materials for children to create stories.


I think the exhibition could have been more inclusive if it included other artworks outside of the Osborne collection as all of the artists featured are Western. Personally, my interest in folk and fairy tale illustrations is rooted from a book about a Turkish fairy tale I had as a child that was illustrated by an Egyptian woman artist. I believe this image is one among many examples of artworks from children’s stories in the Middle East that would provide more insight to standards adopted by different cultures. For example, this artwork could show comparisons on standards of beauty among different cultures if it were included side by side with a Western illustration of Cinderella.


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