2015 Downtown Exhibitions


This fall Nanaimo Art Gallery presents Silva, a contemporary art project that follows a thematic path from the microcosms of the forest floor, to the quantifying and processing of lumber, to the global distribution of forestry products. Silva consists of two exhibitions (O Horizon and Booming Grounds), a publication (The Mill), and a series of public events including artist talks, tours, readings, and performances.

Duane Linklater, Blueberries for 12 vessels, dimensions variable, blueberries, clay, earth, vessel from collection of National Museum of the American Indian, 2012 - 2015, Courtesy of the artist and Catriona Jeffries Gallery

Silva Part I: O Horizon

September 4 to October 31, 2015

Peter Culley, Duane Linklater, Gareth Moore, Kika Thorne, Elias Wakan

Join us for a reception on September 3 at 7pm. O Horizon will be opened with a poetry reading by Nanaimo's poet laureate, Naomi Wakan.

O Horizon is titled after the scientific name for the forest floor. This top layer of soil is made of decomposing organic matter and forms the life support system for trees, sprouting plants, fungi, and countless small animals.

Through sculptural installation and poetry, the artists in O Horizon reflect on the powerful roles language and culture play in the ways that we understand the natural environment. In the exhibition, materials are quietly alive: blueberry bushes grow near a poem that rests on a podium made of Vancouver Island hemlock, waiting to be read. Black elastic cords intricately threaded through the walls vibrate with physical tension. Elsewhere in the gallery new works made from organic matter respond to our local ecosystem.

Before his recent passing, beloved Nanaimo poet and artist Peter Culley was scheduled to read as part of the public programming for O Horizon. In lieu of this, his poem Fruit Dots will be present in the gallery and read aloud each day at the solar noon.

Curated by Jesse Birch

Learn more about the exhibition. Download the Gallery brochure with a text by curator Jesse Birch.

The opening reception for O Horizon is supported by Thrifty Foods and Arbutus Distillery.

We are grateful for the generous contributions of Marlene Russo, Lawyer and Mediator, Malaspina Printmakers, the City of Nanaimo's Culture and Heritage Department, Nanaimo Daily News, and the Ecoforestry Institute.

Artist's Talks | Duane Linklater and Kika Thorne

September 5, 2pm

Admission by donation

Join us in the Gallery to meet artists Duane Linklater and Kika Thorne and learn about their work. The artists will discuss their artwork in relation to O Horizon, the natural environment, and its cultural and linguistic translations.

Visit events for additional public programs.

Spirit Gum

May 30 to August 8, 2015
Opening:  May 29, 7pm

Katie Web 01

Mike Bourscheid, Claude Cahun, Gilbert & George, Jack Harman, Carole Itter, Katie Lyle, Elizabeth Milton, Shana Moulton, Frank Ney, Skawennati, Krista Belle Stewart, and Luo Zhijian

Spirit Gum is a kind of glue used to adhere costume to skin. This compound of alcohol (spirit) and resin (gum), suggests a double reading. By way of this sticky substance, objects are not only adhered to bodies, but also inspirited with character. In the exhibition Spirit Gum, this merging of costume and wearer is activated through newly created and existing artworks, alongside works from the permanent collection. Performing through a range of media, artists enact the self, as it begins to resemble another.

Spirit Gum is invisible, and with it the contrast between adornment and body can disappear too. Through this process, a self is rendered as truth or a part of a very good lie. Herein identity itself can be both revealed and disguised. Dressing becomes a personal act of display, and a means to create a public narrative. At Swy-a-lana lagoon, a former Nanaimo mayor is fixed in his favourite role, in bronze he dons a Jolly Roger hat and pirate costume. This figure reminds us that disguise and costume are a part of a communal performance, and when caught in the act, visitors too enter its behavioral composition.  

This exhibition marks another transformation, as the first show since Nanaimo Art Gallery's two locations have merged into one.

Curated by Jesse Birch and Kara Hansen
Kara Hansen's curatorial internship at Nanaimo Art Gallery is funded by an Early Career Development grant through the British Columbia Arts Council.

Image: Katie Lyle, The Writer and The Reader (2014), Oil on canvas, 12"x16"

Film Screening and Popcorn
Tuesday June 16 at 7pm, Art Lab
Free admission
Join us in Art Lab for a free screening of The World of Gilbert and George (1981). Directed by Gilbert & George, this film arranges the artists' sources of inspiration. From church spires to city streets, and from alcoholism to tea drinking, the artists share a unique perspective on their visual vocabulary. Please be advised that given the film's suggestive content, it is not suitable for minors.

Free Interpretive Tour
Friday July 3 at 2pm
Join us for a free tour and lively interpretive experience of the exhibition Spirit Gum. The tour will be lead by performance diva Norma Rocher and will include chocolate and song. Norma Rocher is a part of artist Elizabeth Milton's video installation Soap Opera with Chocolates (2015) shown in Nanaimo Art Gallery's exhibition Spirit Gum on from May 30 until August 8, 2015.

Spirit Gum Cabaret: Live Music and Magic!
Saturday July 4 at 8:30pm
MGM Restaurant, 240 Nicol St.
Gallery $10/ Door $12
The Spirit Gum cabaret is an exciting evening of live performances for all ages. Presented as part of the exhibition Spirit Gum the cabaret features music by Red Hot Icicles Burning on Fire (Vancouver), Starlight 75 (Ladysmith), and a magical performance by Travis the Magician (Vancouver). Costumes are encouraged.

Tickets available at Nanaimo Art Gallery, Fascinating Rhythm, The Vault Cafe


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