Art at Senior College at University of Toronto, A proposal

By Peter Alberti


I have been asked by the Principal of Senior College to make suggestions of how to implement a program of art within Senior College, permanent collection and transient holdings: At present there are occasional exhibits but there is no permanent art collection.


1) I suggest we hang a portrait of each Principal of Senior College, past and present. probably a photograph.

2) I suggest that photographic images of the Board members and administrative staff be posted both on the website and on a noticeboard within the college. Since the membership of the college has expanded dramatically it would be helpful for Members and Fellows.

3) Donated art

4) Printed word. Establish a repository of Books by fellows, created during their retirement.

Temporary Exhibits

I have been impressed how many people in all walks of life have renewed interest in or taken up artistic endeavors in their retirement. I believe that the fellows of senior college are no different and might welcome the opportunity to share their work with others.

The college has occasionally hosted art shows of works by fellows which have hung for weeks or months. This in my view should be encouraged and enhanced. It both highlights fellow activity and hopefully makes the walls aesthetically pleasing. Existing space is relatively limited – there are rails to hang a limited number of pictures in the reception/members room; there are screws in the breeze block wall of the committee room designed to hang pictures. It is unlikely that either room would be able to accommodate more than a dozen pictures, even if fairly small.

In general they appear to have been viewed with pleasure and commented upon positively. At present there is no established mechanism for identifying and selecting possible exhibitors or for making regular changes of shows.

To mount shows can take considerable effort and may be costly. There is a world of difference between bringing one or two images for hanging and mounting a show of a dozen or more images, particularly if they have to be framed, and in the case of photographs also mounted. I will make suggestions of possible ways to minimize this.

1) Photographs.

Today most are created, distributed and viewed electronically. A contemporary way of showing photographs is on Electronic frames, which allow sequences of images to be shown. There are keen photographers within the group, covering a wide range of interests including nature, travel, urban imaging, portrait and still life. I make the following recommendations:

  • a) I suggest we buy a fairly large electronic photo frame (between 15 and 20 inches) and invite members to submit collections of digital images for continuous showing. This is a good way for people to showcase collections of photographs e.g. wildlife, birds, flowers, street shots and landscapes. Such shows might be changed on a monthly basis if there is much demand for members to exhibit, or more likely on a bimonthly basis. Such a photo frame might well be taken to or housed at the faculty club where the overwhelming majority of fellows gather on a weekly basis during the season. It would give both wide coverage and hopefully stimulate interest. It could also be used to review College events, e.g. a garden party or outing.

  • b) I recommend copying the Toronto camera club way of exhibiting photographic prints. The club possesses a couple of dozen 16 x 20 photo frames, with protective glass at the front and removable backing. Members whose images are exhibited need only be concerned about the image and not the frames. Images sized 11 x 17 produced by the maker, can be fitted into available standard size commercial mattes by the maker and then fitted into the reusable frames quite easily.

If we adopted, we might start with purchasing a dozen frames; they should be reasonably rugged as the must be reusable. The one time cost would probably not exceed $50 a frame (exact detail to be researched).

Images could be solicited from fellows either for individual shows or for thematic group shows. Examples of themes include ‘diversity in Toronto’, ‘winter’, ‘Muskoka cottages’ with actual topics being chosen from suggestions by members and agreed to by the organizing committee (see below).

  • c) Fellows might wish to offer solo shows, either in this format or pre-mounted.

In all cases frames must have adequate D rings and wires

2) Fine art. Fellows should be given the opportunity to exhibit art that they have created – drawings, watercolors, crayons, acrylic and oil paint images. Like photography, images could be solicited for group or solo shows.

Group shows might mix photographs and fine art; more frequently they are shown separately.

3) Sculptures and models. Suggestions would be welcomed of how these could be safely exhibited.

Form an Art Committee

If some of the suggestions are adopted I would urge that there be a committee of interested parties responsible for guiding the project in general, soliciting exhibits, choosing and hanging shows. A group of volunteers would also be helpful. If exhibiting becomes popular it will probably need to invite external jurors to help make selections. This prevents internal ill feeling!