Designing an artful narrative driven by global action

Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
Editorial Design, Exhibit Design

Challenge
The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, current Lieutenant Governer of Ontario, commissions annual art exhibitions at the Ontario Legislature. In 2017, her Honour pursued a more collaborative approach, partnering with Bruce Mau as curator and aligning the exhibition mandate with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They engaged Frontier to design the exhibition and an accompanying publication.

Approach
Our design approach took into account that project’s planning was a fluid process. We developed design concepts for both the exhibition and publication as the art was chosen and as related content was created. That content took more forms than in past years, including materials directly from her Honour and Mau as well as featured essays by prominent thinkers addressing each of the seventeen UN Development Goals.

Outcome
Frontier developed a narrative approach both in space and on the page. We designed the bilingual publication as the master document for the exhibit, containing all twenty-one artworks and seventeen commissioned essays. Highlights and quotes from this material were reprinted in the space itself.

The exhibition occupied three spaces within the Governor’s Suite of the Ontario Legislature. As expected of a century-old building, intricate architectural ornamentation provided opportunities and challenges for displaying artworks. We designed a primary “narrative moment” in each room to aid interpretation of the variety of artworks it contained. In print, the artworks were interspersed with seventeen essays that appeared in the specific order of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These were prefaced by three introductory pieces by the Lieutenant Governor, Chief R. Stacey Laforme, and United Nations representatives. The resulting design highlighted artworks prominently on black pages, framing their importance and also making them easy to find at a glance.

The art in this volume reflects the genius of the human spirit, evoking in a vivid, rich, and unsentimental way our relationships with one another and with the world around us.

The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, OC, OOnt is the 29th Lieutenant Governor of the Canadian province of Ontario