Galerie Buhler Gallery (GBG) is giving the public a chance to see captured moments within the St. Boniface Hospital to give recognition to all the healing and support services the hospital offers.
"Unseen St B is the 15th-anniversary exhibition of Gallery Buhler Gallery, and for it, we invited all of the staff, physicians and volunteers to take a photo from their work day using their cell phones," says GBG curator, hannah_g. "There's one photo per participant, and it was really to celebrate and appreciate and share aspects of St. Boniface Hospital and with not only the public but also between colleagues as well."
The hospital has approximately 4000 staff, faculty and volunteers operating within its walls, so while hannah_g was optimistic she admits she often takes on tasks that are almost too large.
"I sometimes set myself impossible, well, difficult to realize tasks. So, I was trying to meet 4000 people of the members of staff of St. B and I thought I made a pretty good dent, but we did not have 4000 people take part, although I'm sure they know all about it. We had about 130 people take part, which is a huge number for this kind of project."
The gallery curator reveals that the inspiration for this exhibition is that once everything became closed off during the pandemic, people looked to the hospital and other health and support services. So, with this in mind, hannah_g wanted to break the confinement and show the lives of the staff at St. Boniface Hospital.
"It's sort of trying to unmask what the people who work there who provide these essential services, healing services, there are loads and loads of things which are just not seen either by the public or by many members of staff, so providing this opportunity for people to share. A lot of it is about sharing in the workplace and sharing experiences. A lot of it is quite funny."
She says that all the photos create a variety of emotions, some are humorous, poignant, poetic, or odd looking. The emotion of each picture is a reflection of what the photographer wanted to portray.
"It's really just a means for people to say, look, this is the hospital, this is where we work, this is a portrait and I think one of the things which is really interesting about portraiture, we think about it as being an individual painting or photograph and individual. But when you have a communal portrait like this, I think the complexity that is involved in representing a person or an organization in this instance really comes to the fore."
Opening night for GBG's 15th-anniversary exhibit was special as it was only open for the hospital staff and their families, but there was also a second opening night during Winnipeg's famous Nuit Blanche festival.
"We had, sort of, two. I wanted to do something special for the staff and so we had a special staff opening and then I managed to get permission from the hospital to be open on new Blanche, to really try and be part of the city's wider art scene as well and participate in all those events. And it was just really fun, like the staff embassy and a lot of people brought their families and brought their colleagues."
Upon visiting the gallery's exhibit during opening night, hannah_g says that participants were excited to see their pictures up on display and it created a connection between colleagues.
Another feat that surprised the gallery curator is how long people stayed to view the photos.
"I've been really surprised at how long people have been staying for, like, people look at every single photo they want to see what these things are and it's like amazing things that you can see and there's so much pride in these photos. One of the photos is from the cardiac department and it's this tiny pacemaker that's next to like a tack that you would tack up, and it's so small and people are seeing this thing like, I've never seen a pacemaker before, and this is tiny."
"I'm planning on having a few openings for First Fridays, for the first Friday of every month in Winnipeg downtown, all of the Art Galleries are open later, and there's often special events."
The public is being encouraged to visit the GBG exhibit, however, hannah_g emphasizes that there is are infection prevention measures in place at the gallery and St. Boniface Hospital and emailing her to schedule a time to visit would be best to ensure a comfortable visit. For those curious about the exhibit, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.