Nanaimo Art Gallery curator Jesse Birch considers the work of olfactory artist Megan Hepburn in the ‘Fielding Road’ exhibit on view in the gallery until Oct. 2. (Mandy Moraes/New Bulletin)

Nanaimo Art Gallery hosting exhibit based on responses to late artist’s work

Olfactory art, sculptures, film and more part of ‘Fielding Road’ exhibit

The Nanaimo Art Gallery will feature eight artists and their varied responses to the work of a man whose poetry and art through exploration and documentation allowed him to intimately observe “spaces between rural and urban experience.”

‘Fielding Road’ is not only a two-and-a-half month in-gallery exhibit in consideration of Peter Culley’s work, but also a series of events and performances throughout Nanaimo.

NAG curator Jesse Birch said the name of the show is derived from a roadway Culley would often visit with his dog Shasta.

“We see Fielding Road more as a metaphor than as an actual site that is part of the show. It’s a site that was really important to Peter Culley – as this space between the rural and urban – and also a space which is reclaimed by nature. It was really important to him as a poet and as a photographer,” said Birch.

According to an art gallery press release, the roadway was cut off from its original use when a highway was built in the ‘90s, and in Culley’s essay Walking in Nanaimo, he wrote: “By the time I rediscovered it, it had become a picturesque ruin – the roadway thick with moss and accumulated leaves and needles, the yellow dividers cracked and obscured under the canopy of conifers, alder, maple and arbutus. Another colony of ravens noisily dominates the stretch along landfill, scattering shards of packaging and bone, draping long strips of plastic from the trees.”

Birch co-curated the exhibit with Elisa Ferrari, who had known Culley before his death in 2015, and the two worked on the project for more than a year leading up to the opening.

The artists in the exhibit were selected for their different media styles and interest in Culley’s work.

“Culley has been an important person to the gallery for many years. He was part of the first exhibition that I curated here, ‘Black Diamond Dust’ in 2014,” said Birch, and added that in the publication for Black Diamond Dust, one of Culley’s poems referenced Fielding Road. “So maybe the germination of this project started even with this, 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, in part, based on his ‘Mosses from an Old Manse’ blog. In their work, they used his images to create and transform the digital media into sculptural objects and print.

“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 oversaturated, that kind of style of photography … iphone photography and composition … And [Culley’s] composition just looks like a precursor of that. So all of his pictures are super beautiful in that way, in this point-and-shoot way. It’s like a not-far-away nostalgia … a lot of tight crops and single subjects,” said Kriangwiwat Holmes.

“And the way the blog just takes you on these walks through Nanaimo. How you just kind of inhabit someone’s perspective,” added Beaudry.

Until Oct. 2, additional artistic responses to Culley’s work can also be viewed and experienced by Megan Hepburn, Crotch, Will Holder, Sky Hopinka, and Willie Thrasher and Linda Saddleback.

As part of the exhibit, there will be two designated walks held by the gallery on Aug. 27, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., for which online registration is required through the gallery’s website, www.nanaimoartgallery.ca.

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

In the last scheduled event, there will be a reading at the Polygon Gallery in North Vancouver on Sept. 22.

For the in-gallery exhibit, there is an allergy alert for those wishing to attend, as some of the artwork contains aromatic materials.

READ MORE: Nanaimo Art Gallery hosting travelling exhibition ‘Bombhead’ inspired by atomic age


mandy.moraes@nanaimobulletin.com

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