Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me

March 4, 2023 - June 4, 2023

Shary Boyle, Centering, 2021, coin operated pottery wheel, electronics, wood, textiles, foot pedal, collaborative textile design with Grant Heaps, Courtesy of the Artist, Photo: John Jones


[Image Description: Centering’s shapely body is a stack of spheres and vase-like forms positioned atop a ceramic wheel. The sculpture is costumed in bedazzled textiles from hat-top to tripod bottom. Hand-applied and sewn beads, crystals, feathers, human hair, netting and sequins adorn its surface, suggesting a fantastical celebrity performance costume. On the flat velvet surface of the tripod, a collection of pottery tools has been similarly jeweled. Shown mid-spin, the costume splays outward by force of the swivel.]

Outside the Palace of Me is a major exhibition of new work by Canadian visual artist and performer Shary Boyle. Inspired by the lyrics in the 2016 song “Europe Is Lost” by UK poet Kae Tempest, Outside the Palace of Me assembles Boyle’s ever-mounting anxieties about global and social crises, within the inclusive context of identity theatre.

Reflecting on contemporary constructions of self through the language of costume, character, set design and stage effects, Boyle explores how we see each other and how we see ourselves. Outside the Palace of Me is a multisensory installation including drawings, ceramic sculpture, life-sized automatons, two-way mirrors, coin-operated sculpture and an interactive score. Reimagining the museum as a collective performance space, the artist worked closely with a scenic designer, robotics engineer, amusement park innovator and costume artist to joyfully envision a set for humane, playful imagination.


Organized by the Gardiner Museum, Toronto, and curated by Dr. Sequoia Miller, Chief Curator & Deputy Director

Presented by:

Jane Irwin and Ross Hill

Additional support by:

Joanie Anderson

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The exhibition is accompanied by a monograph published by the Art Canada Institute.

In Outside the Palace of Me, internationally renowned Canadian multidisciplinary artist Shary Boyle offers a powerful look at how we see and imagine ourselves and each other. This book, based on the touring museum exhibition of the same name, reflects on global and individual struggles of identity to wonder at the possibilities of a just, joyous and collective future. Presenting masterful ceramics and watercolours as well as animatronics of dizzying proportions and a dazzling spectrum of handcraft, Boyle has created a visionary new project merging the languages of carnival, theatre and the art museum, inviting readers to reflect on their roles in, and responses to the most urgent questions of our time.

This book, created and published by the Art Canada Institute, marks the exhibition Outside the Palace of Me, produced for the Gardiner Museum, Toronto and presented at The Rooms, Newfoundland, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery.

Edited by Sara Angel, Jocelyn Anderson, Stephanie Burdzy, Rosie Prata, Tara Ng, Diane Pellicone & Simone Wharton
Essays by Sequoia Miller, Shary Boyle & Crystal Mowry