An installation in Gallery II, May 26 – July 2, 2021

Gayle Kells at Sivarulrasa Gallery

Artist Talk & Virtual Vernissage: Wednesday June 2, 7pm-8pm.

From May 26 to July 2 (leading up to Canada Day on July 1), Sivarulrasa Gallery is pleased to present GAYLE KELLS: ROOTED IN TIME, an intriguing installation by Ottawa-based artist Gayle Kells that uses art to explore Canadian identity in the 21st Century. As of Friday June 11, the installation can be viewed in-person during our regular Gallery hours, Tuesdays to Sundays 11am-5pm.

Gayle Kells completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Ottawa in 1995. She has exhibited in many group and solo exhibitions throughout North America and her work is held in private and public collections including the City of Ottawa’s Fine Art Collection. She has been a member of the Enriched Bread Artists studios in Ottawa for over 20 years.

Artist Statement by Gayle Kells

It is assumed that cultures will meld together, creating one national Canadian identity over time as the next generations transition to the new environment.

So why do I remain so immersed in the past culture? 

I was born to two Lebanese Canadians who both had parents who immigrated to Canada at different times arriving from different small villages in the Lebanese hills. It is said that you could shout from the one village of Kfarmishky to the other, Rashia, to communicate with each other. I don’t really know as I haven’t been there; it is just legend. My maternal grandfather arrived in Canada c.1913 and became a peddler wheeling his wagon from Ottawa up to Cumberland selling his wares.

I have always lived in Ottawa and perhaps that is why I still retain a strong link to the culture – through community activities, connections with relatives, the customs and other ways including the food. 

I have observed a wide shift, however, when it comes to appreciating my culture. When I grew up as a young person in school, our culture was hidden; our food was eaten only in our homes and language spoken there also. We were taught to assimilate into Canadian society as best we could; although my visual appearance, with my black, short curly hair and dark eyebrows, was a sharp contrast to the blonde haired, or pig-tailed classmates that I was surrounded by throughout my school years. Not until nearing the end of high school did I dare expose my culture by bringing some ‘strange’ food to school. These sentiments are common with my peers as well.

I never learned the Arabic language as my parents only spoke to each other in Lebanese and used English when speaking with us children. They used Arabic particularly when they did not want us to understand, which reinforced the idea of integration. They felt that it wasn’t necessary for us to learn the language at the time – it was something to avoid.

There are many stories I have been told over the past 50 years or more that speak of the immigration experience and there are many thoughts and observations I would like to express using my art as a vehicle.

Artist Talk & Virtual Vernissage: Wednesday June 2, 7:00pm-8:00pm. Artist Gayle Kells will join us live via Zoom to talk about her installation. You can join us from the comfort of your home through a video link that can be accessed on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Please email us at [email protected] and we will send you the link.

The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the City of Ottawa.


Gayle Kells at Sivarulrasa Gallery

See a video clip from the show on our Virtual Gallery


Gayle Kells at Sivarulrasa Gallery