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October 14, 2023 – January 14, 2024

Charles Campbell: An Ocean to Livity

Artist Charles Campbell

Curated by: Jesse Birch & Jordan Strom

In Partnership with: Surrey Art Gallery

Opening Reception:

Friday, October 13, 7 pm

Image: Photo by Sean Fenzl

Register yourself or bring a group for a lunchtime tour of our current exhibition Charles Campbell: An Ocean to Livity. Tours are led by a Gallery facilitator every Friday at noon through the run of the exhibition.

$5/Free for Members

Audio Transcript

The audio description tour below will take you through our current exhibition, An Ocean to Livity by Charles Campbell, providing you with an overall description of the Gallery, an introduction to the exhibition by Jesse Birch, an essay about the exhibition by Sonnet L’Abbé, a brief introduction to Charles Campbell, as well as descriptions and didactics for each of the artworks and installations in the exhibition.

From the intimacy of a quiet inhalation to the distance between continents, Charles Campbell: An Ocean to Livity brings together metal and mixed media sculptures along with immersive and participatory multichannel audio installations. Tapping into the fecundity of the Black diasporic imagination, Campbell reconstructs and reinvents lost connections, lamenting the violent disruptions of the past while constructing a home for Black communities’ strength of being.

Central to the exhibition is Black Breath Archive, an installation of breath recordings from Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, and Lower Mainland residents. Campbell strips away racial hierarchies and holds up Black breath as its own force—a carrier of ancestry and experience, a creator of community and something that, even in its most subtle presentation, changes the way we think, feel, and live.

Other artworks that address breath and breathing are Breath Cycle and Finding Accompong Reprise. Breath Cycle gestures towards a deeper past, connecting the oxygen we breathe to its production in symbiotic, multispecies communities of ancient lichen. Finding Accompong Reprise derives its shape from the bronchial structure of a human lung as well as the forked shapes of slave yokes (forked wooden sticks used to tie captives together in a line). Both these works nod to fractal geometry and binary counting systems that originated in Africa.

“Livity” is a Rastafarian word that can either mean way of life or the life force present in every living thing. The artworks in Charles Campbell: An Ocean to Livity evoke a sense of journey, worldly interconnectedness, and communal struggle against the injustices of times past and present, geographies far and near.

Charles Campbell: An Ocean to Livity is the seventh exhibition through which Nanaimo Art Gallery asks the question, what stories do we tell?

Charles Campbell is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and curator who lives and works on lək̓ʷəŋən territory, Victoria, BC. His artworks, which include sculptures, paintings, sonic installations, and performances, have been exhibited widely in the Americas and Europe. Campbell is the recipient of the 2022 VIVA Award from the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation and the 2020 City of Victoria Creative Builder Award. He holds an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmith College and a BFA from Concordia University.



Nanaimo Art Gallery is situated in the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of Snuneymuxw First Nations, and we are grateful to operate on Snuneymuxw territory.



Nanaimo Art Gallery is situated in the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of Snuneymuxw First Nations, and we are grateful to operate on Snuneymuxw territory.