The Orchids / Had the Look of Flowers That Are Looked At


The Orchids / Had the Look of Flowers That Are Looked At

An exhibition by Arvo Leo
Curated by Jesse Birch and Emma Sise

Join us for the opening reception June 22 at 7 pm
June 23 to July 22, 2018

Each species of orchid has cunningly evolved its appearance, and its fragrance, to attract a specific pollinator to aid in sexual reproduction. Yet somehow they also attract us, and our encounters with them have shaped both botanical and human cultures. In Arvo Leo’s film The Orchids / Had the Look of Flowers That Are Looked At these flowering plants assert their agency in a human-centric world. Plants and films both need light and time to exist, and through stop-motion animation, cyanotype photography, and sculptural installation, orchids spring to life, meddling with the environment they’re constrained to; frolicking, creating, and destroying with self-determination and amusement.

The history of the orchid involves layers of colonialism, economic activity, and cultural beliefs that intersect centuries and continents. Arvo Leo has not only been engaged with these histories, but also with the everyday relationships between orchids and people, tending daily to the orchids in his studio, and actively participating as a member of the Nederlandse Orchideeën Vereniging (Dutch Orchid Society). Leo has also made connections in Nanaimo, and throughout the exhibition, living orchids will be in the foyer of the gallery through a special collaboration between the artist and the Central Vancouver Island Orchid Society.

Speaking of and with these wild domestic plants, The Orchids is the second exhibition in a year in which Nanaimo Art Gallery asks the question: How can we speak differently? through exhibitions, educational programs and off-site events. For The Orchids, we also present a series of public events called The Surroundings, which includes a poetry reading at Buttertubs Marsh, and a film screening at Bowen Park.   

Arvo Leo grew up in Roberts Creek, BC, and carries a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, and an MFA from the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. He is currently enrolled as artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Leo is also one of five artists from the West Coast and Yukon to be longlisted for the 2018 Sobey Art Award.

Emma Sise's curatorial internship at Nanaimo Art Gallery is funded by an Early Career Development grant through the British Columbia Arts Council.

Image: Arvo Leo, Vanda Orchid With Knives, 2018, digital photograph 

The Orchids Exhibition Guide

Gallery Tours

Saturday, June 23, 2 pm, FREE

Join us for a personal and engaged tour of The Orchids / Had the Look of Flowers That Are Looked At with artist Arvo Leo.

Tuesday, July 3, 12 to 1 pm, FREE

Join Gallery staff over the lunch hour for a discussion based tour. 

Fulhame's Map

HannahMaynard MultipleExposure 1
Fulhame's Map

 April 7 to June 3

Opening Friday, April 6, 7 pm  
On Saturday, April 7 at 2 pm join us for a talk by artist Jessica Eaton on the processes and inspirations behind her recent photographs.
Carranza, Sara Cwynar, Jessica Eaton, Allison Hrabluik, Hannah Maynard, and Nicole Kelly Westman
Fulhame’s Map is an exhibition named after the scientific work of Elizabeth Fulhame, an 18th century Scottish chemist who is known for her experiments with light sensitive materials. In 1794 she wrote that maps could be made using silver chemistry inscribed by the actions of light. This was essentially a photographic process, and the first recorded instance of such a discovery. Her work was remarkable, not only for the revolutionary potential of her ideas, but also for her ability to persevere in a society hostile to the achievements of women. While her experiments did not create lasting images, Fulhame’s concepts were fixed in the form of her essay With a View to a New Art of Dying and Painting, which became a catalyst for the development of photography. 
Here on Vancouver Island, photography came along with the influx of wealth from prospecting and resource extraction. Hannah Maynard (1834-1918) was a Victoria BC photographer known locally for her pioneering work and experimental approach. She studied photography and opened Mrs. R. Maynard’s photographic gallery in Victoria 1862. By the 1880s she was working with multiple exposures to create innovative self-portraits in which she played many roles. Her works were unprecedented in their vision and complexity, but her relatively isolated practice remains largely unrecognized.     
Alongside a suite of Maynard’s self-portraits sourced from the British Columbia Archives, this exhibition features contemporary artworks that echo Fulhame and Maynard’s prescient ideas. In Fulhame’s Map, Fabiola Carranza, Sara Cwynar, Jessica Eaton, Allison Hrabluik, and Nicole Kelly Westman, experiment with both contemporary and historical modes of image production. Through vibrant and diverse approaches, these artists navigate stories and histories that surround images and their creation. Talking through the language of photography, Fulhame’s Map is the first project in a year in which Nanaimo Art Gallery asks the question: “How can we speak differently?” through exhibitions, educational programs and off-site events. 
Image: Hannah Maynard, A multiple exposure self portrait by Hannah Maynard, glass plate negative, 1890.
Courtesy of Royal BC Museum and Archives

Landfall and Departure: Epilogue (Listening to the Sea)

Landfall and Departure: Epilogue
(Listening to the Sea)

January 12 to March 10, 2018  

Join us for the opening reception: January 11, 7 pm.
The evening includes a performance by Willie Thrasher
and Linda Saddleback.
Michele Di Menna, Ayesha Hameed with Tom Hirst, Colter Harper and Liz Park with Marcus Rediker, Lili Huston-Herterich, Dawn Johnston, Eleanor King, Gary Manson, OrcaLab, Genevieve Robertson, Jenni Schine and Jay White, Fiona Tan, Willie Thrasher and Linda Saddleback
Our history of the sea is a record of misunderstanding the cries of whales and the whispers of waves. But, as sea levels rise and fish stocks dwindle, being attuned to what the ocean is telling us is now more important than ever. Landfall and Departure: Epilogue endeavours to listen to the sea through contemporary visual art, sound works, presentations, and performances.
Oceans cover more than seventy percent of our planet. Artists in the exhibition engage this impossibly vast environment by listening and responding to diverse perspectives, including those of cod fishers off Fogo Island, citizen scientists monitoring salmon stocks in the Broughton Archipelago, workers on a cargo ship, world traveling sailors, pirates, and whales. Others explore through the languages of seashore debris, digital shoreline maps, and experimental music.
For the past 47 years, OrcaLab, a land based whale research station on Hanson Island founded by Dr. Paul Spong, has been studying whales in the most unobtrusive way possible. For Landfall and Departure: Epilogue we celebrate and share their longstanding practice of listening to the sea by embedding video of their recent observations here on the exhibition’s webpage.
For this exhibition, the gallery commissioned Nanaimo based Inuit musician Willie Thrasher to write a new song about listening to the sea, which was recorded with his partner Linda Saddleback, and will be performed at the opening. Details of other public events including tours of the Pacific Biological Station will be forthcoming.
Nanaimo artist Jesse Gray's series of unique bronze jewellery works responding to the accumulation of plastic beach debris will be available at the Gallery Store for the duration of the exhibition.
Landfall and Departure is the third in a series of three exhibition projects that look to the resource industries that formed and fragmented communities on Vancouver Island while having implications globally. The first project: Black Diamond Dust (2014) responded to coal mining; the second project: Silva (2015/2016), responded to forestry. Landfall and Departure (2017/2018) is a two-part exhibition, which considers resources both distributed on, and extracted from, the sea. The first part in this series, Landfall and Departure: Prologue, responded directly to the Nanaimo Harbour. 
Landfall and Departure: Epilogue is the final project in a year of exhibitions, special projects, education programs and events, that explore the question “What does it mean to live on an Island?” 
Some of the audio works in the exhibition can also be streamed online. Follow the links below and please use headphones.
Interview with Liz Park and Marcus Rediker, produced by Colter Harper, listen here.
Streamwalkers, Jenni Schine in dialogue with Jay White, listen here.


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