MW-2021-Web-Rural Artists-event-title-v3

The Khyber Centre for the Arts and Mayworks Kjipuktuk/Halifax present...

TOIL HERE: Works from rural Mi’kma’ki

June 30 - July 24, 2021


Location: The Khyber Centre for the Arts (1880 Hollis St. map + access notes)
Hours: 12-5PM Tuesday-Saturday or by appointment with


press 2021 [details for immediate release and distribution] -

TOIL HERE is a group exhibition and curatorial collaboration between the Mayworks Kjipuktuk/Halifax Festival and the Khyber Centre for the Arts. Featured in this exhibition are works by artists Alex Antle, Antoinette Karuna, Clara Gough, Curtis Botham, Heather Cromwell, Kim Cain, and Michelle Roy, as well as by Mi’kmaq water protectors Catherine Anne Martin, Gnat Na’pi, and Thunderbird Swooping Down Woman (Darlene Gilbert). Using the languages of traditional domestic craft and fine art, the artists explore different facets of rural life, labour and justice, and together disrupt stereotypical notions of what rural “Maritime” art can be and speak to.

A video tour of TOIL HERE will be released part way through the exhibition as a complement online. The video will contain audio and closed captioned interviews with each of the artists.



The Khyber’s staff are on-call, ready and willing to assist with public access, safety and comfort during gallery hours. Please text/call 902.817.6620 or email Visit for full COVID-19 protocol in the Khyber space and for detailed accessibility notes.

Up-to 5 visitors may access the centre at a time during open hours or by appointment scheduled with Khyber staff. All visitors are required to sign their name, date and phone number for tracking purposes. Please adhere to Public Health Guidelines to ensure everyone's safety and comfort, and respect the instructions for masking, physical distancing and travel. Stay home if you do not feel well!

The Granville Mall entrance on Hollis St. is a ground level entry and exit that has automatic doors which can be used during open hours. The direct entrance to the Khyber on Hollis St. is close to ground level but is 2-steps from the sidewalk, with a heavy non-automatic door that requires a turn, then a push or pull. Barcodes for signing-in and for accessing artist bios and statements will be available upon entry and require no touch. Didactic panels describing the works and artist statements will be available in English. An audio-video tour of the exhibition will be made available online and will include closed captioning.


TOIL HERE opens with original audio, also available as a transcription, from Catherine Anne Martin, Gnat Na’pi, and Thunderbird Swooping Down Woman (Darlene Gilbert). Upon entering and while viewing the exhibition, and online, visitors can hear or read as these Mi’kmaq water protectors each speak to labour and water protection on Mi'kma'ki.


Alex Antle’s Sple’tk is a watershed map of the Exploits River beaded onto a tan moose hide and hung from a scraped birch tree. The River is located in the central region of Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland) where Alex grew up. This work explores the importance of clean water and the many uses of the River. Both L’nu and settlers have utilized the water for labour and enjoyment.

Antoinette Karuna’s hooked rug wall hangings are part of an autobiographical series. Untitled 1 and Untitled 2 explore the spiritual aspects of erotic love, distanced from the male gaze and existing within the private sphere of the Treaty Relationship, as Karuna is settler and her partner is Mi’kmaq. Untitled 3 examines Karuna’s biracial identity, which is Sri Lankan Tamil (brown) and French Canadian (white), and how despite pressures from monoracial society to choose one racial identity over another, she experiences her biraciality as fluid and complex. Formally, her rugs draw on her background as a filmmaker, mixing the language of textiles with that of cinema––notably cinematographic and storytelling principles.

Clara Gough’s life sized figurative basket sculptures present different forms of labour: one a parent carrying a child and the other a depiction of the artist's father carrying tools. Gough reinvents the traditional basket weaving techniques passed down in her community to depict iterations of labour and the community itself.

Curtis Botham’s Pulp Mill, Abercrombie is a black and white, photo-realistic charcoal drawing as part of his 'Effluents' series of drawings that depict worker’s solidarity, economic justice and environmental impact of industry in rural Mi’kma’ki. Drawn from observational sketches, Curtis has illustrated the environmental devastation that can be caused from unsustainable, under-regulated pulp industries.

Secret Codes by Heather Cromwell is a vibrant series of picture quilts The Dance, Betty Hartley and Grandma’s Hands depicting Black Nova Scotian women, labour, love and stories from the community. This work came out of a project by the Black Artists’ Network of Nova Scotia and the Vale Quilters, where quiltmakers created from drawings made by Halifax artist-curator David Woods, and documented travels to African Nova Scotian communities across the province. Grandma's Hands will be on view as part of TOIL HERE.

Tilling and burying: Red Earth, Black Death by Kim Cain is a piece about dualities of life/death, growth/pruning, joy/sorrow. The red earth sets the background for the preparation of the land for planting, with cattle and farmers preparing the soil. Black death is actualized with the central sight of the pallbearers carrying a casket towards a waiting plot.

Michelle Roy’s Mi’kmaq regalia pieces include a toddler’s regalia, a prom dress, and a special jingle dress, in representation and honoring of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit and to celebrate the strength, labour and determination of Mi’kmaq mothers, sisters, aunties, wives, and daughters and the central role of women in struggles for Indigenous justice.

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