Nanaimo Art Gallery’s new exhibit is made up of pieces meant to tell stories and inspire people to invent their own stories.
The gallery presents “Carried Through the Water” by Diyan Achjadi from Friday, April 15.
The exhibition is the first to explore the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s latest thematic question, “What stories do we tell?” The Vancouver-based artist will showcase works created over the past four years, including a stop-motion watercolor animation called “Hush” and other works on paper.
“All of the drawings, prints and animation somehow refer to landscapes, skyscapes and oceanscapes and create these fictional tableaux that generate stories,” Achjadi said.
The animation was a commission she took during the lockdown phase of the pandemic, created by photographing 9×12 inch works in progress. Creating two seconds of rain took her four or five hours, she said, and working with watercolor meant she couldn’t stop and get back to work, she had to fully commit.
“The slowness of it forced me to be really intentional about what I was doing and specific about my brand,” Achjadi said. “Also, I loved how in the translation of the animation, after being photographed, you can really see the quality of the materials, you can see the water drying out, you can see the light reflecting… Because that I was doing this in the first year of the pandemic, for me it was really important that people see that there was a human behind it.
Several of Achjadi’s works feature three-dimensional elements that could be compared to those found in pop-up books. The artist said that she sometimes felt that the paper should not only be a surface, but also a material part of the image.
“With these elements, the design becomes more sculptural. It becomes difficult to see everything all at once and so you have to move…”, she said. “Hopefully someone will notice a little detail they hadn’t noticed before.”
The thematic investigation appeals to Achjadi, who has always enjoyed telling stories through images. Often her creative process begins when she looks at images that tell the story of a particular time and place, or when she hears or reads a story and invents her own story in response.
“What I also try to do with my drawings and my animations is to bring together a series of images and patterns so that they suggest a story, and I have a story in me, usually, when I it starts,” she said. . “But hopefully I’m not telling too much of the story so someone can start putting the threads together and making something up.”
Galleries can be intimidating, Achjadi said, because people sometimes feel like they don’t fully understand what the work is about and decide it’s not for them. But she hopes anyone can walk in “and feel a sense of wonder and connection” seeing her narrate through images, and decide for themselves how the story unfolds.
WHAT’S THIS… Carried Through the Water by Diyan Achjadi will be at the Nanaimo Art Gallery from April 15 to June 26, with an opening reception on April 22 at 7 p.m.