Environment
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s newest exhibition on mushrooms includes a slice of Fairy Creek

'Symbiosis' makes the link between old-growth advocacy and the world of mushroom-inspired art

By Michael John Lo
April 20, 2023
Environment
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s newest exhibition on mushrooms includes a slice of Fairy Creek

'Symbiosis' makes the link between old-growth advocacy and the world of mushroom-inspired art

By Michael John Lo
Apr 20, 2023
Gallery visitors at the AGGV's exhibit 'Symbiosis'. Photo: Michael John Lo / Capital Daily
Gallery visitors at the AGGV's exhibit 'Symbiosis'. Photo: Michael John Lo / Capital Daily
Environment
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s newest exhibition on mushrooms includes a slice of Fairy Creek

'Symbiosis' makes the link between old-growth advocacy and the world of mushroom-inspired art

By Michael John Lo
April 20, 2023
Get the news and events in Victoria, in your inbox every morning.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s newest exhibition on mushrooms includes a slice of Fairy Creek
Gallery visitors at the AGGV's exhibit 'Symbiosis'. Photo: Michael John Lo / Capital Daily

Fairy Creek land defenders took centre stage at the opening of Symbiosis, the latest exhibition at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV). The exhibit opened on April 1, but will be free to visitors next week from April 27 to May 3. 

Two years in the making, Symbiosis, which will be at the gallery until Oct. 29, started as a shared love of fungi by co-curators Jaimie Isaac and Mel Granley. 

Perhaps the largest—certainly the heaviest—work on display is a 3,000-pound Douglas Fir old-growth stump cut “cookie” previously at the Fairy Creek blockades. After being cut from a tree in 2020, the stump was repurposed by land defenders as a blockade and sleeping dragon anchor, and has since appeared at events and protests as far as Montreal.

“It’s likely the crudest and most graphic demonstration of our art—the destruction of our land,” said Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones, who presented the stump along with Angela “Rainbow Eyes” Davidson on opening day.

“Our art is our creativity. I think that’s mankind’s biggest gift that we have to re-nurture,” Jones said. “And by doing that, we have to start in the simplest form, by preserving and caring for our land, and our forests.”

Pacheedaht First Nation Elder Bill Jones poses for cameras in front of a slab of old growth. Photo: Michael John Lo / Capital Daily

Isaac said that the gallery invited the Dzunuḵ̓wa Society to present the old growth stump as an exhibition piece to bring together the relationship between mushrooms and old-growth forests.

“You can’t have a show on symbiosis and relationships between forests, mushrooms, and fungi ecosystems without addressing some of the local circumstances that are happening within those realms,” she said.

“It would be remiss not to bring in stories and experiences from the land defenders that are protecting the very thing that we are talking about in the exhibition.”

In addition to the stump, a documentary about the Fairy Creek blockades is also featured within the gallery, along a multi-sensory spread of work inspired by mushrooms. At least one work was in part inspired by magic mushrooms, according to an artist at the opening day panel.

Gallery visitors take in Brad Necyk's multimedia work, Of Dreaming. Photo: Michael John Lo / Capital Daily

There’s only 150,000 scientifically named and described fungi in the world. Between two million and five million types of fungi have yet to be discovered. 

“We live in a world where we think that everything is accessible through knowledge and research, but there’s just so much more unknown,” Isaac said. “Can you imagine that whole area of knowledge and research?” 

New uses for mushrooms are being discovered all the time. From the environmental aspects, to the use of mushrooms as medicine, and the invention of mushroom-based fabric, people across the world are pushing the envelope on what can be done with fungi, Isaac said.

“To be able to bring all of them together in conversation and in dialogue is really important,” she said. Symbiosis features both Vancouver Island-based artists like Sarah Jim and Connie Paul, as well as artists beyond BC, as far as Finland.

A close-up shot of the mycelium sculptural works of Markham-based artist Xiaojing Yan. Photo: Michael John Lo / Capital Daily

In the coming week, visitors will be able to see the exhibition at no cost. Investment firm Odlum Brown is sponsoring the week of free gallery admission from Apr. 27 to May 3 to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Currently, visitors have a chance to win a free Diane Borsato poster commissioned for the exhibit. 

AGGV is supplementing the Symbiosis exhibit with additional programming. 

In June, the gallery will be hosting a panel talk with Rande Cook and Indigenous youth to talk about land protection, forest preservation, and Indigenous sovereignty. Come mushroom season in October, the gallery will be organizing a mushroom foray where participants will have the opportunity to get up close to mushrooms on the land.

contact@capitaldaily.ca

Related News

Federal court rules Canada failed to protect endangered birds, including Island species
Stay connected to your city with the Capital Daily newsletter.
By filling out the form above, you agree to receive emails from Capital Daily. You can unsubscribe at any time.