"There's this thing that happens where you can't believe you are walking on this piece of sidewalk again or that you recognize this particular crack, you know?" It's one week before art lovers take to the streets in the frenzied rush called Nocturne and visual artist Lucy Pullen is describing her connection to the city streets of Halifax where she grew up and attended NSCAD before leaving to do an exchange program in New York, graduate work in Philadelphia and to take a position at the University of Victoria for a decade. "If you've grown up here you know things," she says. "Like there's a bump in the sidewalk on Oakland Road where the sidewalk diverts a path around an oak tree---not significant, but that's what art can do---mark supposedly insignificant things for another reason."
The places Pullen's marking at this year's Nocturne are monuments to her youth--- several locations (Oakland Road, the Wanderers Grounds, RA Park, the Commons, King's College, Spring Garden Road Public Library, Victoria Park and Nathan Green Square) where she'll install a piece of her series Interval for Halifax---swings Pullen encased in Scotchlite tape that viewers can interact with and are encouraged to photograph in flash in order to experience fully. "The swing is a line. One line and a knot you sit on---as opposed to two lines---in reflective material. In a certain moment it looks like a line of light---as if someone is riding a bolt of lightning."
When Nocturne curator Eleanor King first approached Pullen about participating in this year's events, an artistic experience she's never had before, there was already inspiration brewing in a couple of places. Her grandfather, Hugh F. Pullen, had written about buoys and lights in his book The Sea Road to Halifax, which got her thinking about trails of light.
"I was thinking about that, and the importance of time in the city," says Pullen. "The clock and how the cannon at noon marks intervals. Things like that." An idea that worked as an extension to work she'd already been doing.
No stranger to Scotchlite, Pullen had created a swing like this before in photographs along with an 18 foot tall reflective triangle structure for a Tate exhibit called Blind Spot. It was "nine feet across, made of aluminum tubes supporting this material, an enormous structure that you couldn't really miss but people would say 'Where is it? Did I miss it?' It was a joke on things that are spectacular because it's visible but hidden in a way, a secret life in the media."
In a way Interval for Halifax is like that, almost like taking a stroll through life's private hits.
"Each piece is set up in a different place so as to temporarily mark a passage through the city of my youth," says Pullen. "It's almost as if the sites are connected by a dotted line across town, interval intersections between sites. A fictive interval between time and space in a way," she says, tying it into Nocturne's space and time theme, because, "different places mean different things in different times."
There and back again, Pullen will bring her art full circle to the city where she started it all---"it's a great city to grow up in, an intellectual hot bed compared to Victoria"---and for six hours on Saturday night you can make her places mean something special to you. "It's a nice way to revisit my hometown in a way with my work," says Pullen. "It's like they say, you can leave a place correctly, in a way."
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