Safety Gear for Small Animals: Bill Burns

February 3 – March 9, 2007 
Guest Curator | Annette Hurtig, Doryphore Curatorial Collective

About the Exhibition

Since the 1990s, Toronto-based artist Bill Burns has created a fascinating world of finely-manufactured model safety and rescue gear for animals, along with drawings, illustrations, and instruction manuals for rescuing, relocating, and rehabilitating animals—all produced by his “company,” Safety Gear for Small Animals (SGSA). 

Using the conventions of both traditional museum display and print-media marketing, Burns humorously combines his tiny rescue and safety items for animals with helpful information that guides viewers through the exhibition. Beneath the appeal of the miniscule safety vests, work gloves, bullet-proof vests, U.V. goggles and respirators developed for our furry friends, lies a frightening warning about our stewardship of the environment. Publications by SGSA include titles like How to Help Animals Escape from Natural History and How to Help Animals Escape from Degraded Habitats. The exhibition is geared towards viewers of all ages, with special displays for children.

Bill Burns was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria in 1980. He then studied at Goldsmiths' College, University of London, England, for a Masters of Fine Arts, graduating in 1987. Burns is the recipient of awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.

This exhibition was co-produced by the Kamloops Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Evergreen Cultural Centre, Kenderdine Art Gallery, Liane and Danny Taran Gallery at the Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, and the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery.

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