Nanaimo Art Gallery hosts an exhibition based on reactions to the work of late artists

Nanaimo Art Gallery features eight artists and their varied responses to the work of a man whose poetry and art, through exploration and documentation, enabled him to closely observe “spaces between rural and urban experience.”

Fielding Road is not only a two-and-a-half month exhibition at the gallery dedicated to Peter Culley’s work, but also a series of events and performances throughout Nanaimo.

NAG curator Jesse Birch said the show’s name derives from a street that Culley often visited with his dog, Shasta.

“We see Fielding Road as a metaphor rather than an actual location that is part of the show. It’s a place that was very important to Peter Culley – as that space between the country and the city – and also a space being reclaimed by nature. It was very important to him as a poet and photographer,” Birch said.

According to an art gallery press release, the road was cut from its original use when a freeway was built in the ’90s and featured in Culley’s essay Hiking in Nanaimo, he wrote: “When I rediscovered it, it had become a picturesque ruin – the roadway thick with moss and accumulated leaves and needles, the yellow partitions cracked and hidden under the canopy of conifers, alders, maples and strawberry trees. Another colony of ravens noisily dominates the route along the landfill, scattering packaging and bone splinters and hanging long strips of plastic from the trees.”

Birch co-curated the exhibition with Elisa Ferrari, who knew Culley before his death in 2015, and the two worked on the project for more than a year before it opened.

The artists in the exhibition were chosen for their diverse media styles and interest in Culley’s work.

“Culley has been an important figure for the gallery for many years. He was part of the first exhibition I curated here, ‘Black Diamond Dust’ in 2014,” Birch said, adding that in the publication for Black Diamond Dust, one of Culley’s poems referred to Fielding Road. “Perhaps the germination of this project even started seven years ago.”

Visual artists Maya Beaudry and Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes, who worked together in dialogue but produced separate pieces, responded to Culley’s online material, based in part on his blog, Mosses from an Old Manse. In their work they used his images to create the digital media and transform them into sculptural objects and prints.

“It’s just nice to see that era that reminds us of Tumblr — or something before social media that was so strictly Instagram and now it’s oversaturated, that kind of photography… iPhone photography and composition… And [Culley’s] Composition only looks like a precursor of it. In that way all of his pictures are super beautiful, in that point and shoot way. It’s like a nostalgia not far away… lots of snippets and single subjects,” said Kriangwiwat Holmes.

“And the way the blog just takes you on those walks around Nanaimo. How you just take someone’s perspective,” Beaudry added.

Additional artistic responses to Culley’s work can be seen and experienced through October 2 by Megan Hepburn, Crotch, Will Holder, Sky Hopinka, as well as Willie Thrasher and Linda Saddleback.

As part of the exhibition, there will be two designated walks on August 27 between 11am and 3pm that require online registration via the gallery’s website.

A related event at Cavalotti Lodge on July 16 included a performance by Thrasher and Saddleback. On September 1st at 5pm, Thrasher and Saddleback will perform as part of the Fielding Road exhibit at the Nanaimo Night Market along Commercial Street.

The last scheduled event will be a reading at the Polygon Gallery in North Vancouver on September 22nd.

For the exhibition in the gallery, there is an allergy warning for those who wish to participate as some of the artworks contain aromatic materials.
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