Caetani artist in residence Rebecca Key conducting research on the Caetani family at the Vernon Museum.
Caetani artist in residence Rebecca Key conducting research on the Caetani family at the Vernon Museum.

Unique Collaboration between the Vernon & District Museum & Archives and the Caetani Centre:

UK artist Rebecca Key creates installation based on Caetani artifacts and story



Reception and Conversation with the Artist: Thursday, March 24, 7 – 9 pm
At the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives
3009 – 32nd Avenue, Vernon
Telephone: Museum: 250-542-3142

Rebecca Key is an artist based in the North West of the United Kingdom. She has exhibited internationally, and also worked as an art director in the film and television industry. Key uses objects to examine the relationship between artist and gallery space. She uses set dressing to explore myths that surrounds the creative process within the institution, and other specific sites.

Key is in Vernon for a unique Caetani Centre residency in collaboration with the Vernon Museum during the month of March. Key has undertaken extensive research on Vernon’s Caetani family, as well as with archival material and objects from the Caetani family, located in the Vernon Museum, and the installation will also include her own photographs taken in response to her own research on the enigmatic and mysterious Caetani family.

Key’s area of concentration has been the time period following the death of Sveva Caetani’s father, Leone, in 1934, to the death of her mother, Ofelia, in 1960. As many local residents are aware, this was the period of time that the young Sveva was kept a virtual prisoner in her own home, for approximately 25 years, not allowed out of her house for the first three years, and restricted to the grounds and short excursions into town for the remainder. Sveva was encouraged to read, but vehemently denied the freedom to write, draw or paint. Following her mother’s death, she was to emerge into the community, eventually able to obtain her teaching certificate from the University of Victoria, and returned to the North Okanagan to become a respected teacher, mentor, artist and writer for many years before her own death in 1994.

Rebecca’s investigation focuses on this 25 year period of Sveva’s life, using archival objects and new visual metaphors to illustrate the relationship between this mother and daughter, and the dynamic similitude of love and control, isolation and suffocation.

Key says about her residency: “Reading texts by Heidi Thompson and Karen Avery offer exceptional insight. I am pleased to be able to stay in the house where she (Sveva) and her mother (Ofelia) spent the many years following the death of her father. This will be a great piece of work to engage dialogue with all ranges of people, to talk about the life of such a unique and generous woman.”

In a review by The Washington Post, they wrote about Rebecca Key’s previous work:

For Key, site-specific forensics has become something of a specialty. Past shows include the transformation of a gallery’s exhibition space into its back office, putting the gritty business of art — or a facsimile thereof — on display. Another project found her turning a gallery (located in a studio building) into an artist’s studio; opening night visitors feared they’d stumbled into the wrong place.

This kind of trickery isn’t just one-note high jinks, it’s tough love.

Once we’re familiar with a place, we almost always tune it out. Key jolts us awake by making the familiar strange. For a moment, at least, we’re aware of what surrounds us.”

The public is invited to attend a reception and conversation with the artist on Thursday March 24th, beginning at 7pm at the Vernon Museum, where Rebecca will give short introduction to the work and will answer questions about the installation, her research and the Caetani family, along with Caetani Centre’s executive director Susan Brandoli.

Rebecca’s residency is funded by Arts Council England, and she is currently studying a practice-based PhD at the Art & Design Research Institute at Middlesex University, London, financially supported by the BBC Grace Wyndham Goldie Trust and The Snowdon Trust.