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My YR – Niamh O’Laoghaire


Name: Niamh O’Laoghaire [Nee-iv Olera]

Occupation: Director of the Varley Art Gallery of Markham

How long have you been with the gallery? Seven years

 Why makes the Varley a unique place to see?  Apart from our collection of works by Varley, some of which are always on display, it’s an ideal place to see contemporary art and particularly shows by local and regional emerging artists and curators. It’s also a perfect size, big enough to host substantial exhibitions, but small enough to be intimate. And of course it has an amazing location beside both the natural beauties of Toogood Pond Park and Historic Main Street Unionville and its shops and restaurants.

 Aside from your gallery, where do you go for fun in YR?  The Flato Markham Theatre for all kinds of live performances and also Markham at the Movies, the Markham Museum for outdoor family-oriented activities.

What is one summer/winter event that you never miss in YR?  For summer, walking the trails; for winter, hot chocolate at the Old Firehall Confectionary.

What are your favourite restaurants in YR?  Now that’s a very difficult question. Both Smash Kitchen and Next Door in Unionville are great places to eat and they have been very supportive of the Gallery. Green Tea and A La Kitchen in First Markham Place for Chinese food. Kiu for noodles and for Hibiki for Sushi.

 What YR attractions/events/happenings would you recommend to friends who visit YR? Markham is what I know best, so I’m afraid that I’m going to concentrate on it. After the Varley, I recommend the Unionville Heritage District, then walking around Toogood Pond and taking in Mary Anne Barkhouse’s public art installation Quarry. And then a trip to Pacific Mall for excellent browsing.

Short bio: Niamh O’Laoghaire has more than 20 years experience in the Canadian heritage sector. With a Ph.D. in Fine Art she taught Western and Canadian art history at McMaster University in the 1990s. After opening her own gallery, SCAM Contemporary Art, she was appointed Director of the University of Toronto Art Centre (UTAC) in 2001 and she joined the Varley Art Gallery of Markham as Director in 2014. She has also been President of the Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization (CAMDO), 2007-9.

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