Starry Stairs: Alma Rumball’s Atlantis

15 April 2016 TO 19 June 2016


Art Gallery of Sudbury | Galerie d'art de Sudbury

251 rue John Street
Sudbury, ON
P3E 1P9

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Alma Rumball


Vanessa Nicholas

Alma Rumball (1902-1980) was known as a quiet woman and she lived most of her adult life in a small cottage by Huntsville’s Fairy Lake. In 1955 Rumball received a vision accompanied by a voice that instructed her to draw the story of her past life in the lost city of Atlantis. From this point forward, Rumball gave herself over to a prolific automatic drawing practice. Rumball is described as an outsider artist because she worked in isolation and credited her drawings to the voices, visions and spirits that guided her hand. Rumball’s abstract landscapes are psychedelic spectrums of pinks and purples. They are unapologetically feminine, explains the exhibition’s curator, Vanessa Nicholas, who is a student in York University’s PhD Art History and Visual Culture program. Starry Stairs: Alma Rumball’s Atlantis features works from York University’s extensive collection of Rumball’s drawings. Included in the exhibition is The Great People of the Atlantis Continent, a series of twenty-four colour pencil drawings that narrate the artist’s past life as the Queen of Atlantis. Rumball presents Atlantis as a matriarchy, explains Nicholas, by telling the story of a princess who steals the crown from her cruel husband to help her subjects. In Starry Stairs: Alma Rumball’s Atlantis Nicholas’s curatorial goal is to cast light on the critical content of Rumball’s work. Alma Rumball was the subject of a 2005 documentary, The Alma Drawings directed by Jeremy Munce, and this is the first curated solo exhibition of her work since her debut at the Art Gallery of York University in 1978. Curated by Vanessa Nicholas. This Curatorial Intensive exhibition is sponsored by the Art Gallery of York University in collaboration with York University’s Art History Department in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design. Circulated by the Art Gallery of York University with assistance from the Art Gallery of Sudbury.

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