Vancouver artist builds a six-storey sculpture through the centre of the Vancouver Art Gallery

Vancouver artist Reece Terris is building a 60-foot architectural installation straight up through the heart of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Focusing on the evolution of domestic space in Vancouver over the last six decades, Ought Apartment is an “apartment tower” with six full-sized residences stacked on top of each other, each dedicated to a decade of décor between 1950 and 2000. With an opening date of May 6, 2009, Terris and his crew are hard at work in the gallery building what will be the largest sculptural installation ever created at the museum. The work will be on display until September 20, 2009.


“Reece Terris’s innovative and ambitious installation is wonderful example of the work the gallery spotlights in our exhibition series, NEXT: a series of artist projects from the Pacific Rim,” said Kathleen Bartels, director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “It is a primary goal of the gallery to be in dialogue with the visual culture of this dynamic region. The NEXT series represents our ongoing commitment to presenting the newest and most exciting work by some of the Pacific Rim’s most talented artists.”


Commenting on interior design and renovation as social phenomena, each floor of Terris’s Ought Apartment reflects the floor plan of a particular decade, beginning with the 1950s on the first floor and ending with the present decade on the sixth. As the installation rises through the gallery’s rotunda, the floor plans evolve, reflecting shifting social values and the progression of interior design over time, while drawing attention to the economy of obsolescence that drives the process of home renovation.


“It is wonderful to see this massive endeavour taking shape in the gallery’s rotunda,” said Grant Arnold, the Audain Curator of British Columbia Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery. “The project represents more than two years of preparation during which time Reece collected most of the elements of the sculpture from his work in home renovation. His attention to detail is remarkable. From the shag carpeting to the light switches, every facet of the domestic environment is accounted for and the cumulative effect over six floors is astounding.”


Terris is steadfast in his use of reclaimed, recycled and used materials for the installation. Cabinetry, tilework, bathroom fixtures, linoleum floors, wallpaper, appliances, lamps, furniture and a myriad of other domestic artifacts were carefully removed from residences slated for demolition or renovation for reconfiguration in Terris’s sculpture. The artist salvages these rapidly vanishing domestic objects to emphasize their cultural value, as well as the ongoing cycles of human consumption.


The architecture of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s rotunda offers the opportunity for the viewer to observe the installation from a multitude of vantage points on all four floors of the gallery, as well as the stairs and escalators that surround the structure. Each floor of the installation is cross-sectioned to allow intimate views through walls and ceilings into the meticulously decorated interior spaces.


Over the past four years, Reece Terris has undertaken a set of ambitious sculptural projects that address constructed space in the contemporary environment. His work is characterized by a remarkable technical proficiency that facilitates investigation of architectural space and its relation to lived experience. His 2006 work, Bridge (Wooden Arch), consisted of a functional walking bridge that extended from the balcony of his own east-side Vancouver residence, across the roof of his neighbour’s home to the other side where it found footing on a back veranda. Modelled on the traditional architecture of Japanese bridges, the work was approximately four storeys high at its apex and easily supported groups of up to eight people.


“We’re excited to watch the fascinating work of Reece Terris come to life, both as fans of art and the Vancouver Art Gallery,” said Raymond Chun, Senior Vice-President Pacific Region, TD Canada Trust. “We’ve been supporting emerging artists and the environment for years, so to be associated with a sculpture that embodies both of these commitments was an opportunity we simply couldn’t pass up.”


Born in Vancouver in 1968, Reece Terris lives and works in the city. Through his experience in the construction industry both in Vancouver and abroad, Terris developed a strong interest in the meaning of private and public space. Drawn to both architecture and visual art, he studied at Simon Fraser University, where he explored the possibilities for three-dimensional design, while actively maintaining a construction business and exhibiting work. His practice spans a variety of media, including sculpture, performance, installation, and photography, but all share a critical relation between objects and spaces. Terris’s work has been exhibited throughout Canada and the United States.


Reece Terris: Ought Apartment is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Grant Arnold, Audain Curator of British Columbia Art. The installation is the ninth work presented as a part of NEXT: a series of artist projects from the Pacific Rim. The series highlights work previously unseen in Vancouver and seeks to engage the diverse practices of Pacific Rim artists.