Jul 17, 2024

The artist’s work Portrait of Uncle on Scott Road celebrates South Asians in Surrey.

After a six-month closure due to Covid-19, the Surrey Art Gallery is reopening with an exhibit starting on September 19 until December 13.  Artist Lakshmi Gill is the only Filipina among the many artists featured in this exhibit. 

Titled Where We Have Been, the exhibit explores the interconnection between place and identity in the South of Fraser region, through selections from the Surrey Art Gallery’s permanent collection. It shows how, in many cases, art acts as a record of the artist’s perception of the world around them, functioning to situate them within a place. As the exhibit shows this process is important for anyone attempting to establish an idea of home, whether they identify as an indigenous, migrant, settler, or otherwise. 

Gill’s contribution to the art exhibit is a poem/painting on a scroll made of recyclable material. Her poem/painting is titled 'Portrait of Uncle on Scott Road.'    It is the only artwork in the combined form of poem and painting by a Filipino artist in the exhibit. The poem was inspired by a Punjabi migrant Gill met in Surrey. The Punjabi man came from the same district in India where Gill’s father was from. The meeting reminded her of the historical migration of South Asians to farm in the Surrey/Delta region.  She has met many South Asians in Surrey and has learned how their Indian culture permeates their lives. Her poem is a celebration of their past in India as it relates to their present home in Surrey.

Born in Manila of Punjabi/Spanish-Filipina parents, Gill is a poet and educator who has published extensively in Canadian and world literature. She was one of the two women poets (along with Dorothy Livesay) who founded the League of Canadian Poets in 1966. She is a current member of The Writers’ Union of Canada.

Lakshmi Gill came to Canada in 1964. She is now a Canadian citizen. Some of her works include: Novena to St. Jude Thaddeus (1979: Fiddlehead Press), The Third Infinitive (1993: TSAR), Returning the Empties, New and Selected Poems:1960s to 1990s (1998:TSAR), and anthologies and literary magazines in Canada, USA, Ireland, Australia, India, Macau, Hongkong, and the Philippines.

(Register for pre-booked visit to the Gallery at surrey.ca/artgallery or phone 604-501-5100.

Spots are available at select times on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays 5-9:30 pm and Saturdays 10-5 pm starting September 19.) 

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