It was a frigid day in February, five years ago, snow still blanketing the crystallized soil, when my father stepped into his garden to be interviewed. He was the first person to speak to me and my camera about his feelings of home.
He came to Canada as an immigrant in the 60’s, cleared and developed a property here on Nex̱wlélex̱m/Bowen Island with my my mother, where they raised two children and hundreds of rhododendrons, building a veritable arboretum of trees, rare and endangered species, and beautiful flowers.
He’s a part of this land, for sure, as is Diane Buchanan, who spoke of her childhood here, when the population was about a tenth of what it is now, and how she connects with the land and community.
Dawn Smoke opened up to me about finding a feeling of home (and not) as a survivor of the Sixties Scoop and someone with a rich and varied history of homes across our continent. She remembers running away to make her home in the bush at only 13 years old, and also renting a 60-acre farm for only $60 a month, where she homesteaded as an adult.
Children from our community showed me their special places; the fort that one of them built on the mountainside, the skate park in Ambleside, and the bits and pieces of this land that are important to them.
This project, called w h a t . h o m e, includes the voices, stories and wisdom of 30 people from our region. From immigrants to Indigenous people (from both North and South Americas), to settlers and refugees, this project spans some diversity of those who call this place home, and it digs at the meaning of the word ‘home’ in a broader context: What creates a sense of belonging and identity? What inherent rights do we have to live and create shelter for ourselves?
Michael Chapman lived on his boat at the time I interviewed him. He and many other participants — landowners, renters, and homeless people — spoke eloquently about the injustice of housing in our society, both from a shelter-need perspective, and from a colonial one.
I developed the installation that came from these interviews during a residency in Amsterdam, with my friends and fellow artists Igor Sevcuk (orig. Bosnia) and Go Eun Im (orig. Korea), whose own work also involves layers of ideas around home and belonging, and experimental film.
w h a t . h o m e is a two-channel video installation that explores the concept of ‘home’ through story, voice, landscape and human interaction, in a hanging matrix of fabric. Visitors walk into and among the projected landscapes and speakers, where shadows, stories, and movement combine.
I’m so very grateful to Igor and Go Eun for their encouragement and critiquing of this project; to the many people whose thoughts and stories form the backbone of it, to the Hearth Gallery, the Emily Carr Alumni Association, West Vancouver Arts Council, Vigilance Magazine and Spilt Milk for supporting the project, as well.
And, after various pandemic and funding-related BC exhibition cancellations, this Canadian premiere of w h a t . h o m e wouldn’t be happening without its gracious host, the Gibsons Public Art Gallery!
I hope you’ll come see the show — it’s a double-ferry trip from our little island, followed by a 10-minute bus-ride to the gallery (or a nice bike-ride, if you’re so inclined!) A happy afternoon spent on the Sunshine Coast!
- w h a t . h o m e - An art installation by Emily van Lidth de Jeude February 9 to March 5, 2023.
- Gallery Hours: Thursday to Monday, 11 am to 4 pm
- Meet the Artist: February 11, 12 to 2 pm
- Gibsons Public Art Gallery, 431 Marine Drive, Gibsons, BC