North Island Hospital Art Project


  • Exhibition October 13 2017 - May 12 2018

The CVAG creative team took on the project of conceptualizing, designing and producing artwork for the new North Island Hospital in the Comox Valley. CVAG’s Community Space features a design project for art at the new North Island Hospital in Courtenay. We worked closely with the North Island Hospital Art Project, K’ómoks First Nation, Elder Barb Whyte, other local artists, plus students, parents, and educators from Queneesh Elementary School.

Some of this work is already installed at the new hospital, and the rest is in process. Come and see it all at the CVAG Community Space until March 23.
Gathering Place Wall:
The artwork created for the Welcome Wall honours the traditional territory, medicine plants and cultural healing practices of the K’omoks First Nation people, both Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw. The work invites contemplation and rooting to the land in which we live and recieve health care.

I give thanks to the Creator, Creator of our planets and our stars. I honor Mother Earth for all that she gives us, the oceans, rivers, mountains, and plains. I give thanks to the trees and the plants for supporting the physical, emotional, and spiritual well being of our elders, mothers and fathers, and our children that walk upon her with respect for ourselves and respect for Mother Earth and all of my relations.

– Barb Whyte


Central Registration:
Three large panels offer a reflection of the local landscape and cultural history that is embedded within it. The imagery offers a welcoming invitation through scenes that embrace the forest and sea comprising the Comox Valley.
The series of photographs communicates a sense of comfort and safety for individuals visiting the hospital.

With arms outstretched and our songs clinging to the wind, the K’ómoks First Nation welcomes visitors into our unceded traditional territory. Since time immemorial, the ancestors of the K’ómoks people have been the caretakers of this land — living off the wealth and abundance that this region has to offer. From the cool rivers teeming with salmon to the mountains and forests that surround us, the environment has always looked after our people. We welcome you to share in the abundance that this region has to offer…with the expectation that you give back back as much as you take.

– Andy Everson (K’ómoks/Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations)


Waiting Room:

Gordon Hutchens

Transformation: Aquamarine / Alabaster Work
(details) crystalline glazed porcelain vessels, 2017–18

Emulating the crystal growth of minerals slow cooling deep within the earth, Gordon has spent many years developing a personal pallet of ceramic glazes that can grow spontaneous macro crystals if cooled very slowly. First discovered in Europe in the late 1800s, this style of glaze is fired in the kiln to 1300 degrees celsius and during the cooling cycle is held at around 1120 degrees for up to five hours. Like all glass, this glaze is based on powdered quartz, with the addition of a high percentage of zinc oxide. With slow cooling, at a critical temperature, natural zinc ortho-silicate crystals can grow within it. Inspired by alabaster, the crystalline form of calcium, this glaze gets its white mother of pearl effect from the addition of titanium. The aquamarine coloured glaze is achieved by blending titanium, copper and cobalt metals.

Gordon Hutchens first became intrigued with pottery at the age of fourteen during a visit to Japan. He received an Honours Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Illinois majoring in Ceramics (Clay and Glass Blowing). For nearly 30 years Gordon has operated his extensive studio on Denman Island, BC. His work has been shown in over twenty-five solo shows and seventy group exhibitions in North America. Gordon’s work has been featured in three major exhibitions in Japan. His work is housed in permanent collections worldwide, including the Charles Bronfman Claridge Collection and the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Gordon has shared his knowledge of ceramics through mentorships and teaching positions at many colleges and Potters’ Guilds. He is currently on faculty in the Fine Art and Design Ceramics Department, at North Island College. He has been widely published and is the author/host of four videos including Beginning Raku, Variations on Raku, and a two-part video series Salt-Soda Firing.

Queneesh Elementary School Students (Kindergarten through Grade 7)

digital prints/watercolour + mixed media original, 2017–18

Inspired by their relationships to place – where they live and learn – the children of Queneesh Elementary School came together in a series of art-making sessions facilitated by Denise Lawson and Angela Somerset (Comox Valley Art Gallery Curatorial Staff). The children were invited to respond to the theme of transformation and change. This resulted in the creation of one hundred and eighty artworks for the new hospital which borders their school yard. Circles of sharing allowed the children an opportunity to offer their personal experiences related to hospitalization. Working from a place of deep empathy the children explored the transformative potential of unexpected change using wet-on-wet watercolour painting techniques combined with drawing and collage to create lush, expressive images. Krista McAllister, with the assistance of Lukas Roy (CVAG Design / Production Staff) wove the beautiful visual narrative together that comprises the final installation, offering hope and encouragement to all those in the hospital environment.
The imagery for these wards will be applied using a translucent decal and are intended to “bring” nature into the inner atrium area to offer the patients who are sitting in treatment visual inspiration and comfort.


Artists / Participants: K’ómoks First Nation, Elder Barb Whyte, K’umugwe Cultural Society, Calvin Hunt, Karver Everson, Randy Frank, Alun Macanulty, Gordon Hutchens, the students, staff, and families of Queneesh Elementary school, Trish McPhail, Ed Odgaard, Nicole Crouch, Krista McAllister

Design / Production: Glen Sanford, Sharon Karsten, Alun Macanulty, Angela Somerset, Denise Lawson, Krista McAllister, Lukas Roy, Ernst Vegt of Coast Imaging Arts, and ABC Printing & Signs.