2014 Downtown Exhibitions

Black Diamond Dust



September 20  to December 13, 2014

Opening at both locations on Friday, September 19
Campus Gallery opening 4:00 - 6:00pm
Downtown Gallery opening 7:00 - 10:00pm

Black Diamond Dust is a multi-site art exhibition, which considers the sedimentary nature of stories and histories. The title Black Diamond Dust refers to the coal mining industry that Nanaimo was built upon; an industry that both formed and fragmented communities through economic development, racial segregation and labour inequity, and served as the foundation of global industrialization.

The artists in Black Diamond Dust look toward forgotten or under-acknowledged histories, while considering both local contexts and the forms of cultural expression that surround global industrial practices. From sculpture, to video, to folk song, Stephanie Aitken, Raymond Boisjoly, Edward Burtynsky, Peter Culley, Devon Knowles, William Notman & Son, Jerry Pethick, Kerri Reid, Scott Rogers and others employ a wide range of creative approaches to articulating the contemporary resonance of material pasts.
These artworks will be shown alongside historical artifacts borrowed from the Nanaimo Museum and the Nanaimo Archives. In addition, the gallery will screen three video works that look to past and present miners struggles in other parts of the world: "The Battle of Orgreave" by Jeremy Deller and Mike Figgis (UK), "To the Light" by Yuanchen Liu (China) and "Dreadful Memories: The Life of Sarah Ogan Gunning" by Mimi Pickering (USA).

The exhibition will be based at both Nanaimo Art Gallery locations, and will also involve a series of off-site public projects including a billboard display, a poetry reading, a newspaper insert, and an artist’s intervention in the Nanaimo Museum, among others. There will also be tours of the gallery exhibitions by Historian Lynne Bowen and curator Jesse Birch. Details below.

The material traces of industry, not only continue to produce the built environment and the objects within it, but also inform the cultural identities of communities that were built on resource-based economies. Through art, Black Diamond Dust enters into a creative dialogue with Nanaimo’s industrial past.

Curated by Jesse Birch

Black Diamond Dust: Living Histories

In addition to the gallery exhibitions, Black Diamond Dust will include a number of public events and projects called Living Histories including:

Campus: Saturday, September 20, 2:00pm

  • Poetry reading by Peter Culley an art writer, poet, and artist who lives in the South Wellington area of Nanaimo.

Downtown: Friday, September 26, 1:00pm
Campus: Friday, October 3, 1:00pm

  • Exhibition tours by Nanaimo Art Gallery's Interim Executive/Artistic Director, and Curator of Black Diamond Dust Jesse Birch.

Saturday, October 18, 11:00am - 12:00pm (Downtown) 1:00 - 2:00pm (Campus) 

  • A tour of the exhibition with renowned Nanaimo author and historian Lynne Bowen in dialoque with curator Jesse Birch.

Off-Site projects for Black Diamond Dust:

August 12 to October 15

  • Stephanie Aitken, Scott Rogers, and Peter Culley will be artists in residence at the Buttertubs Marsh Miners Cottage:
    • Aiken (August 12 to 19),
    • Rogers (September 6 to 19),
    • Culley (October 1 to 15).

Use of the cottage is made possible through a partnership with Nanaimo's Culture and Heritage department. 

August 15 to December 15

  • Artist Raymond Boisjoly will produce a billboard work visible upon nearing Nanaimo heading south at Nanoose Bay.

Saturday October 4, 2014, 2:00pm

  • In association with Black Diamond Dust, the Friends of the Morden Mine will give a free tour of the mine site.

Duration of Black Diamond Dust

  • Artist Devon Knowles will create a sculptural intervention in the Nanaimo Museum for the duration of the exhibition.
  • Kerri Reid will produce a work that will be on display in the Sointula Museum on Malcolm Island, BC for the duration of Black Diamond Dust.

The Gallery Store

  • Nanaimo artist Jesse Gray will make a special edition jewellery work that will respond to themes in Black Diamond Dust. Available in the Gallery Store for the duration of the exhibition.

Image: Peter Culley, Untitled, 2012, Colour Photograph

Supported by:

 cityLogoOutlined copy        BCArtsCouncil RGB pos lrg     bcgovtcurrent    cancounc    

VIU20logo 1  NanaimoMuseumLogo-pantonefinal      archives  Coast bastionLogo vert rgb VFlogo-colour               dailynews      coast-outdoor-advertising-billboards 1  BUR13-001-Logo-K 





Existential Elders

Opening Reception: Saturday, June 21, 2:00 - 5:00pm

June 24 to August 9, 2014

Wisdom, they say, comes with age.

BF - the Last JourneyAging is a hot topic these days. Aging boomers consult experts about how to prepare for old age, how to look younger, how to save for retirement, how to maintain their brains and bodies at peak performance.

Artists are accustomed to living on the fringes of society - on the outside, looking in. We are typically less conventional, more experimental, more critical of society, often poorer, less secure, and more isolated than the average citizen.

Then suddenly we're Seniors, part of the fastest growing and most conservative demographic in the country. But we're not typical Seniors; we generally remain marginal and experimental and we don't retire. We adapt to the physical limitations of age and carry on with our work. We work because making art has become our life, and still defines us. We've become what I call "Cultural Elders".

The traditional role of Elders in society is to share wisdom with younger generations. So what do we, as Cultural Elders, have to say? For this project I invited sixteen BC artists, men and women, senior both in years and professional stature, to share their personal take on life, the human condition, aging, the passage of time, and the search for meaning and purpose in life.

Participating Artists: Donna Balma, Anna Banana, Famous Empty Sky, Bill Friesen, DF Gray, Tim Haley, Jeff Hartbower, Barbara Hutson, Marci Katz, Ursula Medley, Robert Moon, Lynn Orriss, Joe Rosenblatt, Jo Swallow, Sharon Urdahl, Ed Varney

Exhibition by Curator/Participant Marci Katz
Image: Bill Friesen, The Last Journey, 2014, acrylic on recycled marine canvas

Article on "Existential Elders" and interview with Nanaimo Art Gallery's Interim Executive Artistic Director, Jesse Birch.



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