Established in 2014, the Diefenbunker Artist-in-Residence Program fosters connections between the Museum, local artists, and the wider Ottawa community through the creation and presentation of art inspired by this National Historic Site and its history.



October 15, 2020 until March 7, 2021


October 15 at 7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m. Video release
7:30 to 8:00 p.m. tune in on Instagram LIVE FEED for a Q & A with the artist, Greta Grip, and our Visitor Experience Manager, Courtney Gehling.




Knit your part. Knitted works by Greta GripIt was the cold and concrete spaces of the Diefenbunker that inspired 2020 Artist-in-Residence Greta Grip to bring the warmth of knitting to its walls. This underground bunker, commissioned amid the anxiety and uncertainty of the Cold War years, was built to protect, preserve, and nurture the few who would carry on for the greater good in the event of a nuclear attack. Grip parallels the purpose and procedures of the Diefenbunker with those of knitting — something individuals do to contribute to wartime efforts and social causes, or to build community in difficult times. Both the bunker and the knitted items provide protection and comfort.

Code is essential to the Diefenbunker (an operational communications centre) and to the act of knitting: both use code to create, embed, decipher, and communicate covert messages. Like the dots and dashes of Morse code and the 0s and 1s that symbolize binary code used in digital computers, knitting relies on two basic states: knit stitch and purl stitch. Grip’s work, which ranges from code messages, icons, and QR codes, all created by hand or using a hacked knitting machine, shows us how knitting itself weaves in and out of what can be read and what is hidden.

This residency took place from January to September 2020, while much of the world sheltered in place, struggling to cope with and understand the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Largely influenced by the realities of this period, Grip’s work reflects on themes of containment, protection, health and safety, public messaging, community, and contribution, which are as evident today as they were during the Cold War.

Knitting as Espionage: The Diefenbunker announces Greta Grip as its 2020 Artist-in-Residence

Greta Grip, artist, wearing her art as a hatThe Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum is thrilled to announce artist, Greta Grip, as its Artist-in-Residence for 2020. Greta Grip is fascinated with code. From reading coded knitting patterns to knitting acronyms and QR codes, to hacking a knitting machine; knitting itself weaves in and out of what can be read and what is hidden. The history of espionage has knitting hidden as a facilitator of secrets. Her residency at the Diefenbunker will include researching, deciphering, and creating knitting as code.

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming Greta underground once we reopen,” says Courtney Gehling, the Diefenbunker’s Visitor Experience Manager. “Her incredible artwork and the theme of knitting as code make her the perfect fit for the museum.”

Greta Grip explains her inspiration, “The cold and sterile space at the Diefenbunker has inspired me to bring the warmth of knitting to its walls. The bunker having its origins in uncertain times: to protect, to keep safe, to rebuild is similar to the act of knitting which is often nurturing, providing shelter as well as creating a sense of community but also it is often an isolating act. Both the Diefenbunker and knitting are both entrenched with codes: deciphering, hiding and creating, of which I will be expanding on during the residency.”

While the current COVID pandemic has shifted Greta’s focus to creating for an important cause, our frontlines, we have been thinking of different ways to bring her residency to life in the future. She says, “I am interested to exhibit in the Bank of Canada Vault, as it was built to safeguard Canada’s gold standard in order to rebuild the country after nuclear attack. Fitting for today’s climate, we are not under nuclear attack but we are faced with rebuilding the country.”

We are very excited to see what she will create, inspired by our recent past, present, and future. Stay tuned for updates about Greta Grip’s residency.

View and dowload the Press Release here (pdf).


Past Diefenbunker Artists-in-Residence

Carol Wainio, 2019

Disasters for Little Children, an exhibition by the Museum’s 2019 Artist-in-Residence, Carol Wainio.

In this exhibition, artist-in-residence Carol Wainio uses fairy tales to explore current and past fears. Even the most beloved children’s stories are full of calamity and insecurity. Only sometimes does being clever and prepared to win the day.

Wainio created Disasters for Little Children specifically for the Diefenbunker. The bunker’s construction and design prompted memories of the Tale of the Tortoise and the Hare. Above ground, the protective building reminded her of a turtle’s shell. The underground level, with its hallways and small rooms, seemed like a rabbit’s warren.

Wainio researched Cold War emergency preparedness materials while creating these artworks and discovered Bertie the Turtle, a cartoon character who advised children to “duck and cover” in a nuclear attack – an impossibly naive protection. In contrast, the concrete and steel Diefenbunker would have housed top decision-makers so they could plan for a post-war future. Despite this protection, there were no families here, no next generation of humanity. Deep underground during a nuclear winter, children’s tales of forests and animals would have seemed very far away and long ago.

During the Cold War, nations competed to develop weapons of mass destruction. As in the arms race, the fabled Hare and Tortoise sped toward an uncertain end. Today, we move closer to the slower catastrophe of climate change. Through paint, photography, illustrations, and children’s drawings, Wainio reveals a not-so-fairy-tale world of opposites: then/now, fast/slow, arrogance/persistence, and destruction/survival.

2019 Announcement

Carol Wainio, ArtistOttawa-based multi-award winning artist, Carol Wainio, selected as Diefenbunker Museum’s 6th Artist in Residence. It is our privilege to announce that Carol Wainio has been selected as our 2019 Artist-in-Residence.Carol’s work draws together diverse references to investigate and re-stage older visual narratives of transformation and desire, scarcity and excess, often, though not exclusively, drawn from early European fairy tale.

“My work has explored various forms of vernacular and popular imagery in the context of history and narrative, including archival research in historical fairy tale illustration. Fairy tale characters and narratives were also used in the 19th century to sell products and in popular political commentary and imagery. Some of these pre-modern tales seem increasingly relevant as metaphors for migration, certain political issues, or in the context of post Cold War, contemporary forms of possible catastrophe (environmental, economic).”

Carol is currently a professor at The University of Ottawa in the Visual Arts Department. She has been featured in galleries across Canada and the world. Her work has been shown at the the National Gallery of Canada, the Glenbow Museum, Musées des beaux arts de montréal, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, as well as several international galleries.

“I plan to explore the cultural aspect of cold war fears in terms of their expression whether through posters, popular imagery, and other artifacts, with a view to finding whether there were similar echoes or uses of fairy tale or cautionary tale.”

Annette Hegel, 2018

September 20 to November 30, 2018
The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum presents Now You See Me, an exhibition by the Museum’s 2018 Artist-in-Residence, Annette Hegel.



Ottawa-based multimedia artist, Annette Hegel, selected as Diefenbunker Museum’s 5th Artist in Residence The Diefenbunker Museum is delighted to announce the results of its Artist in Residence for 2018. Annette Hegel, a multi-media artist who has exhibited her work in Canada and Europe, was selected from several applications from both national and international artists. “We’re really looking forward to having Annette at the Museum,” said Nic Clarke, the Diefenbunker’s Curatorial Manager. “Both her work and as well as her experiences growing up on the frontlines of the Cold War, make her an amazing fit for the Diefenbunker.” “It is a great honour, to be selected and join the ranks of artists in residence at the Diefenbunker,” says Hegel. “For me, particularly, as a politically engaged artist, research and refelction at the Museum cannot come at more opportune time, considering the world-political climate of the last 24 months that should give a certain sense of déja-vu to those of us who have come of age during the Cold War.” Annette grew up in Cologne and Düsseldorf, West Germany and moved to Toronto in the early 1980s to study at the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University) in the experimental arts department. She returned to West Germany in the mid-eighties and moved to West Berlin at a time of great cultural and political flux that eventually led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. She co-founded the artist collective that ran the “Weiße Gallerie” (White Gallery), a group of artists that made it their focus to comment on the plethora of political and social issues of the decade that were amplified by the circumstances of Berlin’s role in German and World politics. Annette moved back to Canada in 1987 and is now based in Ottawa, where she was founding member of the Slipstream Collective in 2014. In addition to being a member of the Slipstream Collective, Annette has been a catalyst and facilitator of many community-based public art projects, particularly engaging children and youth. As well as her daily art practise, Annette is engaged in the ongoing collaborative trans-atlantic project “HEGEL,HEGELcontemporary,” which is an experimental visual dialogue with her curator brother Martin who lives and works in Cologne. 

Pixie Cram, 2017

July 20, 2017 to October 29, 2017
The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum presents Emergency Broadcast, an exhibition by the Museum’s 2017 Artist-in-Residence, Pixie Cram.



The Diefenbunker is pleased to welcome Pixie Cram as the Museum’s 2017 Artist in Residence.Pixie Cram is a filmmaker based in Hull, Quebec. His productions include fiction, animation, documentary and installation. Pixie studied theater and screenwriting at Concordia University in Montreal before making her film debut. She is co-founder of Windows Collective, a group dedicated to the creation and presentation of experimental works using the film. In addition to her own artistic practice, she works freelance as a director, editor and director of photography. Pixie Cram artistic approach, 2016.

“Since 2000, I have made experimental films and videos using, among other things, animation techniques in volume, puppet animation and real-life shooting, in formats such as super- 8, 16 mm and digital video. I created works of fiction, documentaries and film installations in situ with Windows Collective, a group I founded with Roger D. Wilson in 2008.”

The vision of the collective is to play with the aesthetics of residential and commercial architectural structures in Ottawa and to reinvent a practice of contemporary mobile urban art stemming from the tradition of cinema. The relationship between nature and technology is a recurring theme in my works. Often, nature dominates and human characters face issues of responsibility. I describe my style as “rustic futurism”, where systems and machines are largely broken and nature inspires a new approach to old issues – a sort of pastoral science fiction.

Anne Frlan, 2016
September 18, 2016 to January 31, 2017
The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum presents The Age of Atomic Anxiety, an exhibition by the Museum’s 2016 Artist-in-Residence, Anna Frlan.






“There is something fascinating about going into a building that was once so top secret that very few people had seen it, and even the people who worked there were not familiar with all the areas of the bunker,” said Frlan in a recent article for Canadian Art. Following months researching a wide range of subjects about the Cold War through the Museum’s collection, archives, blueprints, photos and library, Frlan has created a series of sculptures that explore the psychological climate during that era. Occupying several spaces throughout the four storey underground facility, Frlan’s highly detailed works offer a unique perspective on one of the most critical times in the world’s history.

“This is my first experience as an artist-in-residence and my hope is to successfully create sculptures that merge research with artistic vision,” wrote Frlan in another recent article for the Ottawa Arts Council, “And if I’m lucky, the public may, through my sculptures, sense what I have discovered at the Diefenbunker so far – the futility of trying to survive a nuclear war, yet being unable to ignore this constantly looming threat.”

Anna Frlan is a sculptor of steel, dedicated to transforming this surprisingly pliable material through a process-oriented studio practice. The daughter of Croatian émigrés, her recent work has explored the connection between industrial steel and twentieth-century weaponry production. Frlan holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Ottawa. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Ottawa, Aylmer, Toronto and Croatia, and is found in the collections of the City of Ottawa, Nortel Networks, Deloitte & Touche, and the Canadian Medical Protection Association.

This project is funded in part by a grant from the Community Foundation of Ottawa, and by an award from the Corel Endowment for the Arts administered by the Ottawa Arts Council.

Jesse Stewart, 2015
July 9 to December 31, 2015
The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum presents Geometries and Auralities of Survival, an exhibition by the Museum’s 2015 Artist-in-Residence, Jesse Stewart.






“Vertical lines painted on the circular concrete pillars that jut out into the hallways…red stripes painted on doors…concentric circles drawn on maps to indicate the projected survival rates as we move further from the epicentre of a nuclear explosion”. Jesse Stewart was struck by a “visual emphasis on modernist geometric designs” throughout the 100,000 square foot facility. These “geometries” are explored in Stewart’s residency exhibition through photography and the introduction of artifacts from the Museum’s collection. The exhibition also incorporates sound through the documentation of performances and sound installation throughout Stewart’s ten month residency.

On the occasion of his exhibition launch, Jesse Stewart will present a free percussion performance in the Museum’s historic cafeteria.

Jesse Stewart is an award-winning composer, musician, visual artist, sound artist, instrument builder, writer, and educator dedicated to re-imagining the spaces between artistic disciplines.

His music has been performed at festivals throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe and is documented on over 20 recordings. He has been widely commissioned as a composer and artist.

He has exhibited visual art in over a dozen solo and group exhibitions at public and private galleries including the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, the Karsh Masson Gallery, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, the Thames Art Gallery, the Glenhyrst Art Gallery, the Peterborough Art Gallery, and the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre.

He is the recipient of numerous awards and honours including the 2012 Instrumental Album of the Year Juno Award for his work with genre-defying trio Stretch Orchestra. In 2014, he was named to the Order of Ottawa, one of the city’s highest civic honours. He is an Associate Professor of music at Carleton University and an adjunct faculty member in the department of visual arts at the University of Ottawa.

Gail Bourgeois, 2014
April 26 to September 28, 2014
The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum is proud to present the first exhibition of its inaugural Artist-in-Residence Program. To warn other Canadians is the outcome of Gail Bourgeois’ artist residency at the Museum and National Historic Site.






“This type of program allows for deeper reflection based on prolonged exposure to the site, it’s messaging, and it’s people”, said Diefenbunker Executive Director, Henriette Riegel. “Gail has gained profound and intimate knowledge of the Diefenbunker through extensive research in her six months here, consultation with our archives, and knowledge of the construction, engineering and architecture of this unique underground piece of industrial heritage. Gail’s art has been created specifically for the Diefenbunker and as a direct response to her experience here.”

Artist Statement
To warn other Canadians is a research and exhibition project that will present art works among the museum’s exhibition spaces. The title is borrowed from something said by tour guide and museum Collections Manager, Doug Beaton: The bunker was here to warn other Canadians. This refers to the role the bunker played in housing elements of the federal government in the event of a nuclear attack.

Signals are a human element. The Cold War, a sustained state of global political and military tensions between East and West Blocs of power, is often given beginning and ending dates that nicely contain a still existing nuclear threat. Named by George Orwell after the dropping of the first atomic bombs in 1945, “cold war” describes the experience of nuclear destruction held in delicate suspension by the avoidance of direct military combat. The atmosphere of fear and suspicion of the post-war period has re-emerged in the form of an unseen but keenly felt enemy. My reflection on this takes the form of art pieces meant to create a space for reflection; another look at what is familiar.”

Artist Bio
Gail Bourgeois holds an MFA from Concordia University. She is a founding member of Powerhouse Gallery (La Centrale) in Montreal and founded or formed part of a dozen artists’ collectives. Her multidisciplinary practice is drawing-based. Her themes and methods of working express the tension between academic knowledge and more experimental forms of knowledge based on her interest in collective practices and community engagement.

How to Apply

 Diefenbunker Artist-in-Residence 2021

The Diefenbunker; Canada’s Cold War Museum invites artists to submit applications for its 2021 artist residency. Established in 2014, the Diefenbunker Artist-in-Residence Program fosters connections between the Museum, local artists, and the wider Ottawa community through the creation and presentation of art inspired by this National Historic Site and its history.

To date, the Museum has proudly welcomed Greta Grip, Carol Wainio, Annette Hegel, Anna Frlan, Jesse Stewart, Gail Bourgeois, and Pixie Cram as past Artists-in-Residence.


The Museum welcomes one artist per year for a period of 3 to 6 months. The program is open to artists working in all media living within a 200 km of Ottawa. Works produced through the residency must have a connection to the Diefenbunker, the Cold War, or related themes.

The residency is not a live-in opportunity and artists must have their own means of transportation (there is no public transit to Carp). Artists are given full access to the Museum, its library, collection and archives, and on-site work can be discussed.

The residency will culminate with an exhibition or a presentation of work completed during the residency as well as an artist-led tour of the exhibition or talk.

CARFAC project fee will be paid to the artist.


Submissions should be sent digitally via to and must include the following:

  • A current CV (maximum 3 pages; please include your name, phone number, and email address).
  • An artist statement (maximum 500 words).
  • A clear and concise description of what you propose to do during the residency (maximum 1000 words).
  • 10 images of work completed in the last 10 years. Each image must be saved as a .jpg or .tiff at 72 dpi, and be no larger than 2 MB. Use RGB with maximum 1,240 pixels (length or width). Files must be named with the image number, artist name, and title, each separated by an underscore:

Up to three tracks of audio or video clips of work completed in the last 10 years (maximum 10 minutes total). Files must be named with the track number, artist name, and title, each separated by an underscore.

  • A numbered list of the works indicating artist name, title, date, material, metric dimensions, and duration for audio or video samples.
  • Examples of support materials (maximum 3).

Please include only the requested material in your proposal package. Packages that do not include all of the above will be deemed incomplete and may not be considered.


Applications must be received by midnight on Sunday, January 31th 2021. Receipt of applications will be acknowledged by email. The selection will be done by committee and the successful applicant will be notified by Wednesday, February 11th 2021. 


Contact Courtney Gehling, Visitor Experience Manager  

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