Free firewood offered to visitors as part of Eleanor King exhibition at Kamloops Art Gallery

As the Kamloops Art Gallery’s exhibition Inverted Pyramids and Roads to Nowhere comes to a close, artist Eleanor King is inviting members of the community to visit the Kamloops Art Gallery and take home the firewood on display. 

This gesture is an extension of King’s project made specifically for the gallery, which highlights the paradox of society’s need to use natural resources and the desire to preserve these resources for the future.

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King’s installation includes two cords of split fir firewood gathered from the region that has filled the gallery for the past two months. The wood is a personal reference to the artist’s relationship to wood as a source of heat during the cold winters of her childhood and as a broader reference to the logging roads she features in her large-scale wall paintings and videos. 

Gallery visitors are invited to take up to one armful of the firewood per person once during operating hours, from Dec. 15 to Dec. 29. The Kamloops Art Gallery is in the TNRD Civic Building, downtown at Victoria Street and Fifth Avenue. It is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The gallery is closed on Sundays and statutory holidays.

King is a Nova Scotia artist based in Brooklyn. In the new work made for the Kamloops exhibition, King intervenes in the architecture of the gallery, shifting walls into new configurations that fold inside and outside spaces into one another, filling spaces normally used as entranceways and creating a sensory experience of sound and sight.  Aware of her own environmental footprint through increasing opportunities to travel as her art career excels, King has explored ways to address her complicity in this “jet set” life through studies of geography and land use and by exploiting her own labour in the process.

Through massive abstracted landscapes, painted directly on the walls of the gallery by King and local assistants over successive days, the artist points to our collusion with corporations like Google and their pervasive “user-friendly” version of military mapping tools. Rather than representing the landscape through the traditional display mechanisms of painting, King’s wall paintings directly reference satellite maps to follow logging roads and mining sites in the Kamloops region, presenting an immersive environment that encourages the viewer to traverse the landscape and the horizon line with their own body.  

Her videos also survey the land with Google Earth; by using tools of surveillance and capitalism against themselves to create imagery of human activity, King creates moving images that are both beautiful and horrible. She shifts the perspective from the literal to the metaphoric, integrating patterns of modernization and industrial activities through abstraction, acknowledging the long history of painting and evoking consumer signage. 

The soundtrack for the project was written by King and recorded by the Kamloops Thompson Honour Choir. Take Days engages young people in expressing a message of urgency about the future of our planet. The inclusion of a piano for visitors to play suggests a site of history and potentiality where personal responsibility and contribution is encouraged. Building on previous work that incorporates stacks of salvaged materials, King has stacked firewood from the region, a material reference to the artist’s personal memories of keeping wood stoves burning and larger issues of sustaining a balance between economy and ecology. 

King’s project recognizes the contradictions we all live with and the necessity of industry to sustain human activity. She offers hope in the next generation, while at the same time asserting:  “We know it's not a good idea. Taking from our future selves. Short term gain for long term pain … Don't say, don't say, don't say, You didn't know it was coming.”

Inverted Pyramids and Roads to Nowhere was curated by Kamloops Art Gallery curator Charo Neville.

— Craig Willms, assistant curator, Kamloops Art Gallery

© Kamloops This Week


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