By Nicole Rutherford
Down at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, nestled between the classic works of national icon and local resident, Emily Carr, and historical works from the Chinese and Japanese portrait artists is Victoriaâs newest contemporary art exhibition: Traces, which opened up on January 18th and runs through until April 21st . The galleryâs newest exhibition is a collaboration of three Canadian artists: Daniel Barrow, Alison Norlen, and Ed Pien, each of whom claim to specialize in drawingâ though each has managed to rip the artistic genre wide open.
âTraces is an exhibition about contemporary drawing and the possibility and potential for what that can be.â Says the galleryâs curator, Nicole Stanbridge, who further goes on to describe how each of the artists push the boundaries of this definition.
â[These pieces show] that drawing is beyond an intimate sketch in a note book; itâs much bigger and more elaborate.â
Indeed, the exhibit has utilized traditional drawing materials like pen, ink, and paper, and used them in conjunction with wire sculpture, rope-work, projectors, carved Mylar board, music, and light to create a thought-provoking and interactive environment that places âus into the story-telling of the artists. â
The pieces are all grand-scale, and each has aspects that allow you to become a part of the piece through physical interaction. In a huge work by Alison Norlen, you walk into a Maylar-bound room, and watch carefully-carved shapes move through projected lightâall while being accompanied by the shadow of a womanly figure who is playing with the piece alongside you. In Ed Pienâs rope-based piece you can choose your level of intimacy with his art through your own physical spacing between his web-work, and with Daniel Barrowâs projection-based puzzle you can alter certain pieces to change the story of his charmingâyet disturbingârendition of a character he calls âthe Kissing Bandit.â
âThe theme that runs through the show is the idea of haunting, or traces. Thereâs not a totally tangible presence, but thereâs always this kind of insinuation of the body.â Says Stanbridge, who continues to say that we all leave traces on the world through our actions, and that the artistsâ work implies what kind of traces these might be by âinvestigating into human nature: from the beautiful, to the grotesque, to everything in between.â
The exhibit also offers a technologically-based piece by Scott Amos that allows you to draw onto a wall projection with your own body movementsâanother amazing way to let you experience art in a more physical sense.
Aside from this fun, interactive aspect of the exhibit, the abstractness of it also breeds an environment for self-reflection. Stanbridge reassures that âwhile people can at times feel intimidated by contemporary art because it can be challenging [they should be] excited by that challenge, and willing to come up with some ideas of how it makes them feel without worrying that theyâve got a right or wrong answerâ¦ No oneâs response is wrong; whatever you feel [from this artwork] is your authentic feeling.â
These feelings once again pertain to the âtracesâ theme of the exhibitâsomething which is eerily embodied by the interconnectedness of the different artistsâ work despite the fact that each was developed separately. While researching ideas for the exhibit Stanbridge sought to present contemporary drawing while showcasing what artists were doing across the Canada. As her research continued she saw the work of these artists start to âgravitate togetherâ under an umbrella of common themesâthemes of humanity, she argues, which can be seen in all art.
âTheyâre [all] intertwined, and you can see parallels. Thatâs whatâs exciting about coming and seeing all of the different shows.â
The exhibition is an amazing collection of dynamic pieces presented in a uniquely entertaining manner, so why not head down to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and see for yourself what kind of Traces can be made?
By Sanem Le Gresley
Here's a list of films showing at Parkside Feb. 2-10.
Talking to the Trees
Saturday â¢ February 2nd â¢ 7:15PM
Mia is a beautiful, successful Parisian photographer who dreams of motherhood. One day, she flies to Cambodia to surprise her husband. However, the surprise is hers when she finds him brothel-deep with a bare wisp of a girl. With her eyes open and her heart shattered, her desire to end one cycle of abuse sends her down a path that only grows darker with each step.
Les Enfants ForÃ§ats
Child Slave Labourers
Sunday â¢ February 3rd â¢ 7:15PM
Director Dubois' film serves as a check-in on the promises made in 1998, and a general survey of the positive work thatâs come out of the march. A quiet and straightforward piece of work, thereâs no sensationalism here: the plight of these children isnât dressed up in melodrama.
Shorts Program: Unlikely Neighbours
Monday â¢ February 4th â¢ 7:15PM
6 short movies from around the world.
Tuesday â¢ February 5th â¢ 7:15PM
Two continents come together in this tale of similarities and differences shared by two communities. The Polar Eskimo in Greenland hang on to their traditions, holding off on technology for as long as they can. While their Canadian cousins on Baffin Island, have learned to utilize modern conveniences.
Planet of Snail
Wednesday â¢ February 6th â¢ 7:15PM
Young-Chan comes from the Planet of Snail where all are deaf and blind just like him. Soon-Ho is the only earthling who knows his loneliness. She is his wife and sole conduit to understanding this planet but she has a severe spine problem on her own. Together though, they share the incredible simplicity of daily life and an intimacy that often fails words.
Sunday â¢ February 9th â¢ 7:15PM
Mike Hoolboom, long-time VFF favourite and master of collaged film works, continues to make the kind of film that is much easier and delightful to experience than describe. In Lacan Palestine, he has turned his eye to the state without a state, bringing together history, interviews and experiences into a stream-like feast for not only the eyes but also the mind.
Totem poles are one of the most recognizable cultural emblems of the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest. Each one is a unique work of art, a love poem to the West Coast wilderness and its people.
About the Totem Poles
The poles display animals meticulously hand carved, one on top of the other, into the trunks of trees. Red cedar was the medium of choice for centuries, selected for its malleability, resistance to rotting, and abundance in the temporal rainforests of the West Coast. The poles range in height, from 3 to 20 metres. Victoria boasts one pole that claims to be the tallest totem in the world at 127 feet 7 inches; it towers in Beacon Hill Park, facing the Straight of Juan de Fuca.
Each totem pole documents a story through its art. The animals depicted might represent a family crest or indicate a familyâs status. Following First Nations beliefs, each animal has a different meaning. The poles were erected to commemorate families, people, and events, and would serve a ceremonial or even structural purpose, supporting the main beams of the long houses.
Where to See Totem Poles in Victoria
Victoria is proud home to dozens of poles, on display to celebrate the culture of the indigenous people of this region and honour the landscape from which this art was born. What follows are some locations where you can visit totem poles in Victoria.
In 1941, a display of totem poles from the Royal BC Museum was moved outdoors next to the museum to create a public exhibit. The museum hired a master carver to restore the poles, but after years outdoors, the poles started showing sign of wear. They were returned inside the museum. To maintain the exhibit, several carvers created replicas of the poles, which now stand in Thunderbird Park, along with a traditional house. The Royal BC museum offers an interactive website to explore the Park from home or your hotel room, but Thunderbird Park remains a must-see display of totem poles in downtown Victoria.
Price to view: free
Get there: Downtown, at the corner of Belleville and Douglas, beside the Royal BC Museum
Royal BC Museum
The Royal BC Museum houses a large collection of totem poles, including some of the oldest surviving ones in B.C. Some can be viewed through the windows by the gift shopâs east entrance; others stand sentinel the lobby; and others still are on the third floor in the First Peoples exhibits, which include myriad indigenous artifacts found in B.C. The exhibit is superb.
Price to view: Some can be viewed free outdoors; the ones inside are by museum admission
Get there: Downtown, at the corner of Belleville and Douglas, beside the B.C. Legislature on the Inner Harbour.
Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park is home to the self-proclaimed worldâs tallest totem pole, standing at 127 feet, 7 inches. Other poles around the world also claim to be the tallest; regardless, youâll have to crane your neck to see the top of it and walk a good 50 metres away to capture the whole pole in your camera view. The pole was dedicated in 1954.
Price to view: free
Get there: You can walk to Beacon Hill Park from downtown Victoria. Walk down Quadra out of downtown toward the water. Follow the road through the park, past the petting zoo to the totem pole.
University of Victoria
Several totem poles live as beacons of higher learning on the campus of the University of Victoria. Eagle on Decayed Pole and Raven Soaring stand across from the library in the quad, the green space at the centre of the campus. In 2009, a vandal scaled Eagle on a Decayed Pole and removed two eagles from the top of the pole. In 2011, KwaGulth artist and Hereditary Chief Tony Hunt, who worked under his father on the poles at Thunderbird Park, carved two new eagles to guard the top of the pole. The vandal was never found.
First Peoples House on the campus also boasts a few totem poles, as well as other Indigenous art. The building, designed in the Coast Salish Long House design, is a cultural and academic centre for Indigenous students.
Price to view: free
Get there: The UVic campus is located a 15-minute drive north east from downtown. Get directions.
For an unforgettable celebration of flowers, visiting the world-famous Butchart Gardens is a must on your Victoria bucket list. Since 2004, you can also view two totem poles at the Gardens, located to the right of the spectacular Rose Carousel, by the fireworks field. The poles were erected to commemorate the Gardensâ 100th year in bloom.
Price to view: Admission to the Butchart Gardens
Get there: Located in Brentwood Bay, Butchart Gardens is a 25-minute drive from downtown Victoria. Tours are available leaving from downtown.
By Nicole Rutherford
Victoria may be the city that gets the least amount of snow in Canada, but it certainly doesnât lack in holiday spirit! Each year people seem to be ready for Christmas and the winter season a little bit earlierâheck, the Island Farmâs Santaâs Light Parade happened November 17th this year! However, if you missed out on that you donât have to worry; there are dozens of fun events and activities still coming up for tourists and residents alike to enjoy.
To start off (and to catch you up on your holiday parade quota) why not visit the Sydney Sparkles parade coming up on Saturday November 24th at 5:00? This traditional parade also includes as an island-appropriate âSailPast Paradeâ where embellished boats light up the Sydney Wharf! Still want more? The very next week, December 1st at 7:00 pm, you can head to downtown Victoria for the 14th annual Island Equipment Owners Associationâs truck parade where owners of large trucks and heavy equipment have carefully decorated their vehicles to become giant, illuminated floats.
Need more lights? At 5:00pm on November 27th at the Legislative lawn is the Lights Across Canada event featuring live instrumental music, two childrenâs choirs, and complimentary hot chocolate and cookies as the giant Sequoia Tree is lit up. If you like this, youâll also love the Festival of Trees at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, where spectators can vote on their favorite-themed tree put together by local businesses and organizations while raising money for the BC Childrenâs Hospital. For a final lights attraction, starting December 1st you can also see the Christmas Lights Tour at the Butchart Gardens and try to track down all 12 of the themes of the 12-days of Christmas.If youâre tired of the fast-paced modern-day lifestyle there are also many traditional Christmas events hosted around town for you to enjoy. Slow down a bit, have some hot apple cider, and enjoy the coziness of a Victorian-style Christmas at the Point Ellice House, The Fairmont Empress Hotel, and the Craigdarroch Castle and see an antiqued approach to your favorite holiday.
If youâd rather celebrate the season by enjoying local entertainment, then youâre in luck! Victoria will be hosting several holiday-themed shows, including the Allegra Singerâs Winter Concert running from November 30th-December 1st, while the Royal Theatre and McPhearson Playhouse put on the Nutcracker, featuring a cast made up of 150-members!
Would you rather focus on giving to others? This time of year there is also a variety of fulfilling volunteer opportunities in Victoria. Why not be a âChristmas Elfâ and help elderly folks to unwrap their presents and to read their Christmas letters? Love to decorate? You can channel your inner Martha Stewart and help to bedazzle retirement homes and long-term care facilities in various locations around town. Or, if youâre not the decorating kind of person, you can always help to coordinate hamper donations at many societies around Victoria.
Lastly, we canât forget how physically active most people in Victoria love to be, and for this you will also be delighted: Mount Washington has announced an early season opening on November 30th thanks to an astounding 80cm of snow received over the last couple of weekends. Just a two-and-a half hour drive from Victoria, this ski and snowboard destination will be sure to tucker you out just in time to feast on a delicious turkey dinner.
Hopefully these ideas have inspired a little holiday excitement in each of you. For more information on these and other upcoming events, please visit the Victoria Events Calendar.
On behalf of the Parkside Victoria Resort and Spa, have a very happy holiday season and an amazing new year!