Local artist Charlie Pickard part of group exhibit at Victoria’s Robert Bateman Centre

‘oneTree’ exhibition features works of art made from a single 100-year-old tree

Local artist Charlie Pickard with the gnome house sculpture he created from a portion of a centenarian walnut tree. (Photo courtesy Michael Fox)

Last year Nanaimo wood artist Charlie Pickard was at the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria when he spotted a notice about an upcoming exhibition at the Robert Bateman Centre.

The project, called oneTree, was returning for its third year and the gallery was seeking artists interested in creating a piece of art using a portion of wood cut from a single tree.

The tree for the 2017 edition of the exhibit is a walnut tree that stood in a residential Victoria neighbourhood for more than 100 years until it was felled due to safety concerns.

Pickard, who is known the handmade wooden gnome doors he places at the foot of trees in Nanaimo parks, read about oneTree and immediately knew the project would be a perfect fit.

“I came home and said, tongue-in-cheek honestly … ‘It’s an ancient tree. Gnomes have been known for over 1,000 years to live in the base of old, ancient trees. Well, to keep the tree alive I’ll introduce a gnome family to the tree,’” he said.

Although he has only been making wood art since retiring five years ago, Pickard decided to write an application for the project and sent in photographs and conceptual ideas for a whimsical gnome home built from a tree stump with windows, a door and a chimney.

He was surprised when he heard back from the gallery and learned that he would be one of the 50 artists, mostly from Vancouver Island, to take part in oneTree 2017.

“They sent me an e-mail one night and it said, ‘Charlie, you’ve been accepted,’” he said.

“I said, ‘Jesus, look, they’ve accepted my proposal … what the hell do I do now?’”

In November 2016, Pickard went down to Victoria to pick out his piece of the centenarian walnut tree. He saw a four foot tall section with two protruding knots where branches once were and he could already imagine what it was going to look like.

“As soon as I looked at it I went, ‘OK,’” he said.

“I can just see things, like, that’s a window, and that’s a side entrance. We’ll just build a section on here and we’ll have an entrance and I’ll put the main door up here.”

Pickard said it took him hundreds of hours of on-and-off work from March to November 2017 to transform his block of wood into a gnome house. Aside from carving and painting the outside, complete with decks and a landscaped walkway, he also did some interior decorating, designing a kitchen and bedrooms lit by glimmering LEDs and viewed by looking though the windows. He said it’s the largest project he’s ever made.

When he brought the finished piece to the gallery, he said he was impressed by the other artists’ work, which included furniture, sculptures, bowls and musical instruments. He said it’s hard to explain the feeling of being a part of the exhibition. He said he’s grateful to have been chosen to share his work.

“Not everybody I don’t think can be involved in presenting whatever they do in the Robert Bateman gallery,” he said.

“To me it was just an honour to be accepted.”

The oneTree exhibit continues at the Robert Bateman Centre until Jan. 31.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay wins Vancouver Island basketball championship in Nanaimo

Third-place NDSS will get to challenge second place Claremont for a berth in provincials

Nanaimo drag queen Rick Meyers receives Victoria drag group’s highest honour

Queen City Sisterhood to bestow ‘sainthood’ upon ‘the divine’ Vicki Smudge

Qualicum Beach approves Pheasant Glen zoning amendment

Majority of residents who spoke at public hearing endorsed proposed amendment bylaw

Make your house a home at Nanaimo spring home expo

Building renovation and decor show taking place at Beban Park till Feb. 23

‘Frankenstein’ to be adapted as silent film made in real time at Port Theatre

Production merges stories of author Mary Shelley and character Victor Frankenstein

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Council approves two retail cannabis stores for Ladysmith

Their applications are now in the hands of the provincial government

Court awards Nanaimo woman $300,000 after crash exacerbates her fibromyalgia

Judgment follows 2015 motor vehicle accident on Turner Road

Affordable seniors housing complex pitched for Nanaimo’s hospital district

Seafield Crescent complex would include two five-storey buildings

Exclusive: Pamela Anderson talks plans for waterfront Ladysmith property after 12-day marriage

Anderson says she can pay her own bills. Peters denies making comments suggesting she can’t

Suspect steals seaplane, crashes into another in Vancouver habour

Police responded to the incident at 3:30 a.m. on Friday

Most Read