Canada 150 celebrations continue with the opening of the visual art show 50 Canadian Things at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre. This art exhibit features 51 artists (two working together collaboratively) who produced 50 works of art based on Jane Urquhart’s book A Number of Things: Stories of Canada Told Through 50 Objects. Urquhart was commissioned to write the book by her publisher, HarperCollins, as way of marking Canada’s anniversary. Objects here is loosely defined as, in addition to culturally significant artifacts, included are places, architecture, and ordinary objects like bird feeders and skates, stories that are less about the things themselves and more about what those things reveal about us as Canadians.
Local artist Ian MacLeod took on the task of curating 50 Canadian Things. “I asked a lot and was surprised at the positive response,” he says of how he found the artists. “It came about during discussion with a number of people at the gallery. I read the book and started thinking about artists who I thought would really be interesting [to include].” Most artists had the opportunity to choose the story that they would base their work on. “It’s their interpretation,” says MacLeod. “I didn’t want to influence them in any way, though I did say, ‘you don’t have to do what you usually do.’ I’ve been really surprised and happy with some of the results. I find some of them quite extraordinary.” The works range from paintings and photographs to mixed media, sound and textile installations, all done by local artists. “I hope that the show opens people’s minds to what Canada is about in reality as opposed to the stories we’ve been told,” says MacLeod. “I hope somehow the interpretations of Jane’s stories will open people’s eyes, hearts and minds.”
Jane Urquhart herself will be coming to the Sunshine Coast and giving a reading during the run of the exhibition. “I was intrigued and delighted that the Sunshine Coast artists responded to my book with such positive creative energy,” says Urquhart. “I am greatly looking forward to the exhibit as it was always my hope that readers would select and then celebrate their own personal Canadian things. And I feel so grateful that the Sunshine Coast artists have so generously included me in their artistic process and their celebrations.”
50 Canadian Things runs until August 20 at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre in Sechelt. The opening reception is on Sunday, August 6 from 2-4pm. The event is free and everyone is welcome. Jane Urquhart reads at the Arts Centre on Thursday, August 10 at 8pm. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at share-there.com or by calling 604-885-5412. More info at sunshinecoastartscouncil.com