Wednesday, August 16, 2017

FIN announces full film festival program

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 2:02 PM

click image Jeremie Saunders in Sickboy. - VIA FINFESTIVAL.CA
  • Jeremie Saunders in Sickboy.
  • via finfestival.ca

FIN: Atlantic International Film Festival (formerly known as The Atlantic Film Festival) has announced its eight-day lineup for this year’s fest, featuring homegrown and international talent. 

“If you’ve never been to the Atlantic International Film Festival, this is the year to take the plunge,” says program director Jason Beaudry.

Things kick off at opening night with Long Time Running, a screening in conjunction with Movie Nights Across Canada. The film is a documentary telling the story of The Tragically Hip’s final tour as the band made its way across the country last year.

Locally-made films include Corey Bowles’ Black Cop, Jackie Torrens’ Free Reins, Seth A. Smith's horror movie The Crescent and Andrew MacCormack’s Sickboy: a documentary following Brian Stever, Taylor MacGillivary and Jeremie Saunders, the creators of the popular, Halifax-based podcast of the same name. This is the first time Sickboy will be screened publicly, two months before it is slated to air on CBC.

 “They kind of captivated the hearts of the city when they first began,” MacCormack says of the podcast hosts. The movie focuses on “getting behind the scenes and getting to the essence of why Jeremie’s doing what he’s doing, and how he goes about his life knowing that it’s gonna be a lot shorter than everyone else’s.”

FIN is screening of two films with accessibility specifically in mind. The Halifax Explosion: The Deaf Experience is told through Maritime Sign Language and English subtitles. A different documentary on the Halifax Explosion by Jennifer Adcock was created in consideration for audience members who are blind or have low vision. With the help of Autism Nova Scotia, there will also be a series of “relaxed screenings” providing adjusted sound, lighting and a designated quiet area.

Much-anticipated movies such as Breathe (starring Andrew Garfield), Angelina Jolie’s The Breadwinner and the first fully painted feature film, Loving Vincent, are also on the schedule. Call Me By Your Name, a romantic story set on on the Italian Riviera in 1983, will bring the festival to a close.

FIN runs from September 14-21. The online box office is now open and the walk-in box office at Cineplex Park Lane will open on September 5. All films are now listed at finfestival.ca.




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Review: Gina Stick's Ritual Objects of Everyday Life at Mary E. Black Gallery

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 9:35 AM

Vase with Flower Medallion, Porcelain, Press-mould with original icon, Porcelain, 24k Roman Gold, 22k German gold, Chinese over-glaze enamels (gucai) - JOHN SHERLOCK
  • Vase with Flower Medallion, Porcelain, Press-mould with original icon, Porcelain, 24k Roman Gold, 22k German gold, Chinese over-glaze enamels (gucai)
  • John Sherlock


Gina Etra Stick, Ritual Objects of Everyday Life
Through August 27
Mary E. Black Gallery, 1061 Marginal Road


While many locals may steer away from the waterfront this time of year, there is one event that should pull them towards the boardwalk.

Mary E. Black Gallery, nestled between NSCAD’s port campus and Pier 21, boasts a stunning current exhibition of work by emerging artist Gina Etra Stick of hand-painted porcelain: Ritual Objects of Everyday Life. After a 40 year career as a designer and architect, Stick trained in Jingdezhen, the porcelain center of China and an area with more than a thousand years of porcelain production.
From 24k gilded lotus petals to carved celadon, Stick’s hand enameling is masterful and the resulting works are truly spectacular.

While Stick may employ some creative liberties, the works in Ritual Objects demonstrate a deep respect for and understanding of these continuing ancient traditions, reminding us that—when done right—craft has the potential to be a fruitful site for cultural exchange.

“Luminosity” Porcelain Vase, 17.5” x 7”, 24k Roman Gold, 22k German Gold, and Chinese media (overglaze enamel, painted on top of the fired glaze) - MARVIN MOORE
  • “Luminosity” Porcelain Vase, 17.5” x 7”, 24k Roman Gold, 22k German Gold, and Chinese media (overglaze enamel, painted on top of the fired glaze)
  • Marvin Moore

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Argyle Fine Art's Rainworks makes a splash

Posted By on Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 5:02 PM

KRISTEN DE PALMA
  • Kristen De Palma


Say Something: Exploring art with Rainworks
Saturday, August 12, 2-4pm
Argyle Fine Art, 1559 Barrington Street

Paint the town red? Well, this group of local artists have painted the town in text—that's only viewable when it rains. Here, Argyle Fine Art helps you see the secret writing on the wall (and the sidewalk), equipping adventurers with a bucket of water and a map. Stop by the gallery between 2-4pm to get in on the exploring!

saysomething-map.png

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Get steamy with Laura Kenins' Steam Clean

Posted By on Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 4:52 PM

An image from Laura Kenins' Steam Clean
  • An image from Laura Kenins' Steam Clean


Steam Clean book launch and reading
Thursday, August 10 at 6-8pm
Strange Adventures, Halifax, 5110 Prince Street


Former Coast writer and comic artist extraordinaire Laura Kenins comes home to Hali to celebrate the launch of Steam Clean—just in time for the Dartmouth Comic Arts Festival! The comic follows a a group of friends and strangers at a women’s-only sauna night. As the steam heats up, stories come out—from dealing with dating apps and work woes to struggling with being nonbinary.

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Halifax's first ever exhibition of artwork by Caribbean born and descended NS artists happens Monday

Posted By on Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 9:42 AM

"Maudrie" by Justin Augustine, oil, 2000 - SUBMITTED
  • "Maudrie" by Justin Augustine, oil, 2000
  • submitted


Kaiso
Caribbean Diaspora Cultural Festival
Monday, August 7, noon-9pm
Halifax Commons, Caribbean Diaspora Festival Tent


Halifax's first ever exhibition of art by Caribbean born and descended Nova Scotian artists, Kaiso, is on view for one day only this Monday, as part of the Caribbean Diaspora Cultural Festival.

“This new exhibition shows the diversity of Caribbean culture in Nova Scotia and brings attention to the contributions that Caribbean born peoples have made to the province in the visual arts,” says curator and Black Artists Network of Nova Scotia organizing founder David Woods, in a press release.

Paintings by Woods will be on display as well as work from Justin Augustine, Angel Gannon, Michelle Flemming, Laurel Francis, Habiba El-Sayed, Kaas Ghanie and selections from Black Artists Network members Heather Cromwell and Alex Thuku.

Expect paintings, quilts, installations, photography and ceramic sculpture reflecting "Caribbean images" as well as exploring "social issues and local African Nova Scotian history." The Caribbean Diaspora Cultural Festival also features dancing, singing, drumming, a domino tournament and more.


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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Review: Arjun Lal’s Queer Gardens at the Khyber

Posted By on Tue, Aug 1, 2017 at 4:08 PM

Queer Gardens - ARJUN LAL
  • Queer Gardens
  • Arjun Lal


Arjun Lal's Queer Gardens
July 8-August 15
Closing ceremony Tuesday, August 15, 6-8pm
The Khyber Centre for the Arts, 1880 Hollis Street


A rainbow filled window-front is nothing unusual this time of year, but the rainbows in one Hollis street window are not your standard Pride fare.

In Arjun Lal’s Queer Gardens, the current exhibition in the Khyber’s By the Sea Window Gallery, the gallery’s windowsill is lined with square terracotta pots, each painted with a pride rainbow and numbered 1 /30. Coinciding with 30 years of Pride in Halifax, Lal has created 30 planter boxes, which he will gift to 30 queer community members and organizations at the closing ceremony on August 15.

“Pride is divisive, it is beautiful, it is political, and it has the capacity to connect across communities, intersections, politics, and identities” writes Lal in the Queer Gardens press release.

By thinking outside of the official Pride celebrations, Lal hopes that the plants grown in these planters—this alternative community garden—help members cultivate their own sense of Pride and celebrate growth in queer communities.

Queer Gardens - CALEN SACK
  • Queer Gardens
  • Calen Sack


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Friday, July 28, 2017

Ceramics technician Doug Bamford says so long to NSCAD after 23 years

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 2:29 PM

20245682_10159032619655147_6824060465268042161_n.jpg


Doug Bamford, the WORKS
Opens Monday, July 31 at 5:30pm
Runs to August 5
Anna Leonowens Gallery, 1891 Granville Street
Retirement party to follow at 7pm at Art Bar + Projects, 1873 Granville Street


Beloved NSCAD ceramics technician Doug Bamford is closing the chapter on 23 years at the college with a goodbye exhibition at the Anna Leonowens Gallery and a retirement party at Art Bar + Projects at 7pm on Monday, July 31. the WORKS, opening July 31 at 5:30pm and running to August 5, served as a great excuse for Bamford to finish up some projects he'd been puttering on. "[Anna Leonowens Gallery director] Melanie Colosimo asked me if I wanted to have a retirement exhibition and I jokingly said 'you mean an exit-bition? You're darn tootin' I do.' I had a bunch of half finished work and a bunch of new ideas and I wanted to put the jumper cables on them and make it happen fast," says Bamford. "They're all pieces you could say I’ve been working on for 20 odd years but they're all coming to completion at the same time. And there’s some brand new work too."

In 23 years, Bamford became an essential part of the NSCAD experience. With his retirement, he hopes to allow a changing of the guard. "Of course the students were all crying, mourning, weeping, wailing and gnashing their teeth," he says, jokingly. "But I think it’s time for a change in the department. I’m still full of beans but I’ve been doing it for 23 years, it's time to move along and time for some goddess energy, it’s a bit of a male stronghold and we're all hoping to see a woman take the part."

Now located in Lunenburg, Bamford says fell into his role at NSCAD accidentally. "I came to NSCAD from Toronto 1991 to get an arts education and teach high school, I was self employed so I wanted a cheque on Fridays, summers off and some kind of dental plan," he says. "One of the NSCAD faculty members—Walter Ostrom—said 'you don’t want to teach high school, why don’t you stay here with us?' And I did and it turned into 23 years. It was great, more than I ever could have wished for."
Five years ago, Bamford moved to Lunenburg, in a move he says was "preparing for the return to the studio full time."

"It’s been absolutely wonderful helping bright young artists make their dreams come true, but I’d been an artist all my life, and it’s time for me to get back to doing that," he says. "In terms of the work in this show, something I’m most excited about now comes from observing the built material world in Lunenburg—fish hooks become a motif, and propellers... decoy ducks become expressive characters—I’m looking forward to this direction of assimilating my neighbourhood in my work. It’s made a big impression."

Bamford and a group of like-minded individuals started the Lunenburg School of the Arts in 2013, a school offering short intensive courses taught by professional artists. "I did that to make the place where I live more exciting and it certainly has done that," he says. Bamford's home—known as the Fairbanks—has become a de facto artist residence, and he runs Skullduggery Gallery from the first floor of his home. It's safe to say Bamford' post-NSCAD life will be busy.

"I'm very excited for the next chapter and the chapter I’m living. It’s such a cliche—I’m retired and I’m busier than ever. But there's so much going on here that I need to learn how to pace myself a bit. I call it a return to being self-employed."


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Eyelevel artistic director Katie Belcher moves on to Vancouver's Access Gallery

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 9:08 AM

Katie Belcher - HEATHER YOUNG
  • Katie Belcher
  • Heather Young


Eyelevel's artistic director Katie Belcher is leaving the artist-run centre and relocating to Vancouver to become Access Gallery's newest director/curator in October. "It is difficult to leave after building my life here for fourteen years, but shifting to another coast feels reassuring somehow, and I have already been so welcomed by the community as the news spreads," Belcher says. "I'm keen to add to what I've learned out here, and stretch a bit more."

Belcher has run the Eyelevel since 2013, initiating the shift from brick and mortar gallery to spaceless artist-run centre, exploring experimental forms of art presentation. Along with the Eyelevel board, Belcher wanted to initiate "a return to our experimental origins, this approach has the potential to consider Eyelevel's relationship to site, emerging and local work, queer and feminist theory, and decolonizing practices. I'm inspired by our intention to articulate and embody an intersectional feminist politic with our program and structure." Belcher is also a founding director of HERMES, a non-profit commercial artist's cooperative, President of Atlantis (the Association of Artist-Run Centres from the Atlantic), a member of the steering team of the upcoming Flotilla and treasurer of the board of the national Artist-Run Centres Collectives Conference (ARCA).

"I'm excited to see what the individual vision of the new artistic director will add to Eyelevel's work. I've felt empowered to contribute my own character to Eyelevel and support others in doing the same—the idea for Food for Thoughts came from my own artistic practice, and its approach was really driven by project staff. It is because of new contributors that Eyelevel remains nimble and relevant after 43 years," Belcher says. "Although I'm sad to leave at such an exciting time, I also know that I'm leaving it in a great position. The board is supportive, critically engaged, and active, resources are improving, programming conversations are expansive, and we're moving forward with intention in this model. I feel so fortunate to have found this loving, challenging, and artistically thrilling place to stretch these last four years. It is the best time for someone to step in and help guide the next few years. I think they'll have fun!"

Eyelevel is currently seeking applications for the position of Artistic Director. Those who want to throw their hat into the ring are encouraged to apply before the deadline of Friday, August 11. Full job details here.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Local horror film The Crescent needs your help

Posted By on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 2:40 PM

Vandersteen and Graves in a still from The Crescent - SUBMITTED
  • Vandersteen and Graves in a still from The Crescent
  • submitted


Director Seth Smith, producer Nancy Urich (full disclosure, Urich and I play in a band together) and screenwriter Darcy Spidle, the team behind CUT/OFF/TAIL Pictures, are back on their grind again, so rejoice. With a supremely spooky trailer for The Crescent, Smith continues to deal in the watery horror framework set down by 2012's Lowlife, this time directing Smith and Urich's son Woodrow Graves and artist and musician (Fake Buildings, Building Confidence Through Play, Old & Weird) Danika Vandersteen.

Watch the trailer below for the film described as "an elevated horror that blends formalist, fictional drama with documentary-like moments of realism–think cult classics like Rosemary’s Baby, Phenomena, Don’t Look Now, and contemporary arthouse-thrillers like Under the Skin, The Witch, and Personal Shopper."

In the wake of funding cuts to provincial film programs, CUT/OFF/TAIL Pictures is asking for public backers to complete the final stages of the process. Learn more about the project and donate here.


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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Congrats to 2017's finalists for the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 9:27 AM

Ashley McKenzie's Werewolf - SUBMITTED
  • Ashley McKenzie's Werewolf
  • submitted


Yesterday, the three finalists for the largest annual award to any work of art in Nova Scotia—the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award—were announced. The award was established by the Honourable Myra Freeman in 2005, and is meant to recognize "the excellence of a particular work of art or design from any media." A jury of  five multidisciplinary Nova Scotian artists worked at arm’s-length from the Nova Scotia Masterworks Awards Foundation to select the short-listed works. The juror identities will be revealed once the winner is announced.

The finalists, Donna Morrissey's novel The Deception of Livvy Higgs, Dinuk Wijeratne's composition Polyphonic Lively and Ashley McKenzie's film Werewolf, will receive a $3000 prize for being shortlisted, and one winner announced at this fall's Creative Nova Scotia Gala will win the grand prize of $22,000. There is a panel discussion open to the public about the works at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on September 18.

Descriptions of the finalists (provided by NS Masterworks) are below:

SUBMITTED
  • submitted

The Deception of Livvy Higgs
Creator: Donna Morrissey (writer).
Nominator: Diane Turbide.
The Deception of Livvy Higgs is “well-written, poetic, lyrical,” exclaims the jury. Raised in Newfoundland and now living in Nova Scotia, Donna Morrissey has written five well-received novels. This one is narrated in the first person by an elderly woman who struggles to keep her troubled past from intruding into the present. The story, set partly in World War II-era Halifax, slips seamlessly between the past and the present, with the “disturbing intimacy of a séance.” The story has been described as “haunting...in its portrait of two unforgettable women—Livvy and Gen—whose fates are entwined by a violent act.”

Dinuk Wijeratne's Polyphonic Lively - SUBMITTED
  • Dinuk Wijeratne's Polyphonic Lively
  • submitted

Polyphonic Lively
Creator: Dinuk Wijeratne (composer).
Nominator: Christos Hatzis.
The jury knew the power and complexity of Polyphonic Lively when they heard it. Polyphonic Lively “is terrific in a visceral way.” This 13-minute large ensemble composition was commissioned by Symphony Nova Scotia to open the orchestra’s 2016-17 season. Wijeratne is “masterful in his art,” integrating an array of multicultural influences, and his incorporation of North-Indian tabla chakradhar rhythms is particularly ingenious. The piece was rapturously received by Nova Scotian audiences upon its world premiere, and praised again at the Newfound Music Festival at Memorial University. The Sri-Lankan-born Dinuk Wijeratne lives in Nova Scotia, and is the Creator of three previous Masterworks Finalists.

Werewolf
Creators: Ashley McKenzie (director) and Nelson MacDonald (producer).
Nominator: Cory Bowles.
The jury praised the “dark, sparse, and harsh,” aesthetic of Werewolf, and the talent of its director. The fiction feature film Werewolf is about two young methadone addicts in Cape Breton. They push a lawnmower door to door, begging to cut grass for a living. One struggles to escape while the other falls further into ruin. The film is notable for its non-professional cast and stylized visual presentation. Directed by McKenzie and produced by MacDonald as their first-time feature, the film has already won several awards at Canadian film festivals. The Nova Scotian director and producer have previously made several short films together.
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Friday, July 7, 2017

Teto Elsiddique named local shortlister for RBC Canadian Painting Competition

Posted By on Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 9:07 AM

Teto Elsiddique, neckrings, a breezy thing - SUBMITTED
  • Teto Elsiddique, neckrings, a breezy thing
  • submitted

Fifteen finalists were announced for this year's Canadian Painting Competition, and local artist Teto Elsiddique is among them (and sometime-local Ambera Wellmann. This still counts, right?). Now in its 19th year, the juried competition chose the finalists from 682 submissions.

The winners will be announced on October 17, 2017, and all 15 artists will have their work exhibited at The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario from September 1 to October 22, 2017. A total of $85,000 in prize money will be awarded: $25,000 to the winner, $15,000 to two honourable mentions and $2,500 to the remaining 12 finalists.

The three winning paintings will be added to RBC's Art Collection along with the winners of the previous 18 competitions. RBC’s collection features more than 4,500 works collected since 1929, including original works of art by historical and contemporary Canadian artists.

The full list of finalists is below.

Amanda Boulos, Duckie Wants Water
Angela Teng, Line Dance (Pink and Black for Mary Heilmann)
Ambera Wellmann, Temper Ripened
Cindy Ji Hye Kim, Conspiracy Theory
David Kaarsemaker, Portage 1
Joani Tremblay, The Lure of the Local Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society
Kizi Spielmann Rose, Sun and a Tide Pool
Laura Payne, Enneadec II
Laura Rokas-Bérubé, Paint by Number 7
M.E. Sparks, Hollow Dog
Michael Freeman Badour, Patrick’s Boots
Teto Elsiddique, neckrings, a breezy thing
Tristan Unrau, Nun, After Pasolini
Veronika Pausova, Typography
Wei Li, Obsessiveness and excitement, never growing out of them

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Watch Madelaine Petsch die in the Polaroid trailer

This Dartmouth-filmed movie is slated to come out in August.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 30, 2017 at 10:26 AM

VIA IMDB
  • via IMDB

Remember when a bunch of us were freaking out because Madelaine Petsch (Cheryl Blossom herself) was in Halifax? The trailer for the film she was working on, Polaroid, is finally here.

Kind of like The Ring but not, Polaroid tells is a horror flick about a group of teens who get killed one by one after getting their picture taken with this mysterious vintage camera. The Locust Harbor High School we see in the trailer is actually Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth.

For better or worse, this movie looks campy as heck.

“What’s that?”
“It’s a camera.”

These lines happen on two occasions in this two and-a-half minute trailer. I know we’re in the age of smartphones, but are kids these days so unfamiliar with cameras? I thought Polaroids were trendy as of late.

What’s more, it looks like Petsch’s character dies pretty close to the beginning, but who knows. Maybe she comes back as a zombie or something.

I guess the moral of this story is: If you really want a Polaroid, you hipster, go to eBay or Urban Outfitters. Don’t pick that shit up at an antique store, unless you want to suffer a “tragic and violent end.”

Polaroid is expected to come out on August 25.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Move with FUSE

New dance festival announces its Canada Day lineup.

Posted By on Mon, Jun 26, 2017 at 9:00 AM

FUSE Festival
Sat. July 1, 11am-5pm
Halifax Common

The inaugural FUSE Festival has announced its lineup of dancers set to perform at this year’s event. More than 20 groups are involved, with styles ranging from Highland dance to hip hop. The audience will even get a chance to try some moves.

“The FUSE Festival is designed to bring Nova Scotians of all cultural backgrounds together through a shared cultural dance experience,” FUSE Festival founder Maria Osende says in a press release.

FUSE is happening in conjunction with Halifax’s Canada Day celebrations. It’s free of change, taking place onstage across from the Emera Oval.


Festival Lineup

  • Diversi Team
  •  Laurie Selenzi of Serpentine Studios
  •  Nostos Contemporary Dance
  •  Diaga Irish Dance
  • Queensland Highland Dancers
  • Flamenco artist La Azulita
  • For the Love of Flamenco
  • Irish dancer Zeph Caissie
  • Liliona Quarmyne and The Maritime Centre for African Dance
  •  Sharon Paris’ Youth Dancers
  • Latispanica Cultural Association
  • Free to Move Dance School
  • East Coast Salsa Connection
  • The Mi'kma'ki Dance Troupe and drummers
  • Oriental Motion
  • South India Cultural Association of the Maritimes
  • Nruthiya Saagaram
  • The Arada group
  • The Woods

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Atlantic Film Festival is FIN it to win it

The annual fest announces its new name, plans to take over Park Lane.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 2:12 PM

SUBMITTED
  • submitted

The Atlantic Film Festival is launching into its 37th year with a new name and big plans. From here on out, the annual event will be referred to as FIN: Atlantic International Film Festival.

The festival teamed up with Revolve for the rebranding. FIN doesn’t stand for anything, but festival director Wayne Carter says its meaning is dual: It references Halifax’s connection to the ocean, as well as giving a nod to the closing titles of international films.

Ironically, says Carter, FIN is representing a new beginning for the festival.

“For us, it’s an opportunity to clarify our message.”

In an effort to make the films more accessible, FIN is partnering with Cineplex to take over Park Lane theatre for the duration of the festival. Every screen will be home to a movie that’s part of FIN.

“It’s very exciting for us that people might potentially come in off the street, wanna see a movie, look at the schedule of films” and become part of the FIN audience “by accident,” says Carter.

“Anybody can come. We want everybody who has any kind of love for movies to be a part of the film festival.”

In the same vein, Carter hopes to encourage more young people to take in FIN.

“If this gives younger people an opportunity to re-look at the festival,” he says, “that’s part of the initiative.”

“We know a lot of the stuff that we show has great resonance with young folks, but we’re not sure they see us that way.”

The festival’s opening night film has yet to be decided—that announcement is expected in July—but it will be in conjunction with Movie Nights Across Canada, a national program of Canadian film screenings happening for Canada 150.

FIN is announcing its full festival line-up at the Lord Nelson Hotel on August 16. This year’s festival will take place from Sept. 14-21.

For the future, Carter is setting his sights on the possibility of digital aspects to the festival so people outside Halifax can take part.

“I’m looking forward to the day where maybe I can issue you a digital pass,” he says. “So for a week during the festival, you can maybe be sitting in Corner Brook, but experiencing all the Atlantic content on your iPad, or on your Apple TV—or however you choose to watch content.”


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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Our Common Woods resurrects trees through art

Posted By on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 1:54 PM

"elm elm maple elm" by Theo Heffler - CHRISTINE ORESKOVICH
  • "elm elm maple elm" by Theo Heffler
  • Christine Oreskovich

Our Common Woods
unveiling
Wednesday, June 21 at 10am
The Halifax Common
thedeaneryproject.com

Trees cut down during the North Park intersection redesign have been given a second life thanks to a new public art project.

Our Common Woods is made up of five different art pieces on the Halifax Common. These wooden sculptures are made from those cut trees—which, in ordinary circumstances, would be going to a landfill or used as firewood.

“People are meant to touch with them and engage with them physically and spiritually, or however they want to,” says Kim Thompson of The Deanery Project, which organized Our Common Woods in partnership with the municipality. The Deanery Project is a non-profit which focuses on the environment as well as arts.

“As soon as they were on the ground, people were finding ways to connect—like, fit themselves into the various pieces,” Thompson says of the sculptures.

Some of The Deanery Project’s first pieces of work involved making benches and a solar wood kiln from trees that were cut to make room for Dalhousie’s ocean sciences building.

“There’s a legacy piece and an opportunity to talk about our urban forests in that context.”

The city got wind of that project and wanted to do something similar in the wake of the roundabout construction, so Thompson got ahold of the felled trees and transported them to the Eastern Shore before the work began.

Choosing artists was “a curated process through people that had been working either with the Deanery or had experience working with live edge wood and doing value added projects.”

Art by Alan Syliboy, Erin Phillip, Theo Heffler are currently on display on the Common. Steve Sekerak’s “Bench” will be installed on Wednesday, while Gary Staple’s “Tree Ghost” will be installed over the weekend.

“Kim [Thompson] was sort of pushing these for things to be objects of play,” says Heffler, who sculpted “elm elm maple elm.”

“I felt there was also validity in things of wonder. When we look at a tree—this large object—we look up to it and it gives us a sense of wonder, or greatness or largeness.”

Heffler originally planned on his piece standing vertically, but he realized a16-foot tall structure was impractical.

“So, essentially we just said, ‘Well, what if we lay it down?’” 

It worked.

“I liked that idea, because it’s sort of like this idea of the tree standing up and then it falling down, which was very much what happened to the trees.”

Alan Syliboy brought different facets of Mi'kmaw culture to his piece. His “Mi’kmaw Sign Posts” were created to represent the eight districts of Mi’kma’ki. The posts are in the shape of canoe paddles, which Syliboy says are “symbols of how we lived in this land.”

“That was our main transportation so it was very critical to living in every part of this province.”

Together, the eight paddles form a Wigwam. A replica of the Mi’kmaq eight point star petroglyph has been placed at the Wigwam’s centre.

“I think it’s gonna make a lot of difference to Mi’kmaq people that come to Halifax,” says Syliboy. “But everybody in general will benefit from this.”

The official Common Woods unveiling will take place tomorrow morning as part of HRM’s National Aboriginal Day ceremonies.



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