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Volunteers sought at Surrey’s ‘hidden gem,’ where docents help kids understand art

New exhibits at Surrey Art Gallery will explore theatrical backdrops, rituals attached to hair and more
Docent Gerald Spier leads kids on a tour of an exhibit at Surrey Art Gallery. (Contributed photo: Pardeep Singh)

With another round of training set to start in February, Surrey Art Gallery is searching for more docents to help introduce art to Surrey-area kids.

The volunteers lead weekday school group tours of the gallery’s contemporary art exhibitions.

“Being a docent helps me connect with communities on a deeper level,” raves Maria Koehn, who has volunteered at SAG for four years.

“It’s such a joy working with children who come for their field trips, and I enjoy meeting other art enthusiasts,” Koehn adds. “A beautiful space and accessible for all ages, the gallery is a hidden gem in our city. I leave feeling inspired and look forward to each new exhibit.”

No experience is required to be a docent, who lead students with discussion and hands-on activities that develop their cultural literacy, creative thinking and ability to think critically about works of art.

“It is a rewarding role for those who enjoy working with children and learning about contemporary art, while building skills in art education and contributing to community engaged practices,” a SAG news release suggests.

Qualifications include a passion for contemporary art, joy of working with children and youth, great communication and people skills, age 18 years and over and the ability to volunteer 15 hours per month from September to June.

If interested, apply by Jan. 8 ahead of the next training session, starting Feb. 1. Contact Johanna Lasner, SAG’s volunteer programmer, by email to or call 604-501-5198.

CLICK HERE for more details.

Located at Bear Creek Park, Surrey Art Gallery has featured more than 500 exhibitions and 10,000 artists since the facility was founded in 1975. Admission is free, donations encouraged.

SAG is open Tuesday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. (closed Mondays and holidays).

Exhibited until Jan. 28, “Kampala to Canada” commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Ugandan-Asian Canadians’ forced exile from Uganda through painting and photography.

Opened Dec. 9 is “Josh Hite: A Vista,” which promises a “spectacular ever-changing sequence of theatrical backdrops in this multimedia installation about performance and labour,” until April 21, 2024. Curated by Rhys Edwards, the exhibit documents a performance of the same name which took place at New Westminster’s Massey Theatre in 2019, one of Canada’s few remaining theatres with a “hemp house” rigging system. “In Hite’s multimedia artwork, the labour that ordinarily marks a transition between scenes becomes the star of the show,” explains a post on the gallery’s website.

Looking ahead, SAG’s winter exhibits are set to open Feb. 9. They will include “Art by Surrey Elementary School Students” along with a feature showcase called “un/tangling, un/covering, un/doing,” which aims to share stories “embedded in the rituals attached to hair, such as acts of resistance and sacred reverence.”

Featured will be artists from across Canada, including Audie Murray, Becky Bair, Wally Dion, Clare Yow, Sharon Norwood, Sarindar Dhaliwal, Karin Jones, Baljit Singh, Kiranjot Kaur and Natasha Kianipour. They will offer “reflections on how hair embodies the importance of culture. They celebrate and reveal their responses to an individual’s association with hair and its many manifestations.”

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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