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Offsite_Onsite / Research + Production Residency / Shelley Vanderbyl

December 3 2020 / 10:00am - May 29 2021 / 5:00pm

Offsite_Onsite / Research + Production Residencies

Artists Shelley Vanderbyl / Nisrine Boukhari + Curators Abir Boukhari / Angela Somerset / Denise Lawson

Over the span of time and the space between us, curators and artists have undertaken a relational practice that is mounting a collaborative exhibition to be presented June 2021 – September 2021.

Abir, Shelley and Nisrine have known one another for a number of years, first meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba and later working together in Sweden. They have maintained connection and collaboration over time and the distances that separate them. During the Offsite_Onsite residency period, their ongoing dialogue will inform their practices.Traces of their research and development residencies are made visible through onsite and virtual presentations.


Offsite_Onsite / Research + Production Residency / Shelley Vanderbyl

Shelley Vanderbyl was onsite at the Comox Valley Art Galley for a production residency in the Project Room Studio, Dec 2020 – March 2021. During this time, Shelley further explored her inquiry of signal fires as way-finding / making visible / a calling out into the distance in her fresco work. Simultaneously, she continued to expand her work of painting tiny landscapes inside small medicine tins that fit into a pocket and when opened, become portals for being transported to another world. Exterior influences have further informed Shelley’s research and development. A fire started just outside the doors to Shelley’s working space at the gallery imposed an unexpected staccato in the flow of her onsite residency practice, demanding new responses and articulations in the process of making.

“The residency was partially derailed by the fire. The way it intercepted my work that was already about fires, with only a garage door between my studio and the blaze, caused me to stop and consider where I was going. For one thing, I was going out of doors. I hadn’t yet cleared an interior space to work in when I felt the need to continue the project, And the outdoors brought new possibilities.”

Fire Safety
In my work I am looking at visual ways to converse about mental health, exploring care and hope. I look for inspiration in many places. I have often drawn connections in my work between the lengths Search and Rescue teams will go to in searching for someone who is physically lost, and the attention that we put into seeking out those who feel mentally distanced. Signal fires have been a recurring theme in my work for many years, representing the desire to be found, or to “let oneself be seen”, as well as a way to improve one’s own morale when lost. Recent conversations about societal systems to “handle” mental health, and the recent fire at the gallery, led me down a path of considering signal fires in a more controlled way. Fire Safety, lighting contained fires using wicks, with intentionality… being purposeful. Little lamps and candles existing in domestic spaces, raising morale, and lighting one’s way. The residency was partially derailed by the fire. The way it intercepted my work that was already about fires, with only a garage door between my studio and the blaze, caused me to stop and consider where I was going. For one thing, I was going out of doors. I hadn’t yet cleared an interior space to work in when I felt the need to continue the project, And the outdoors brought new possibilities. As a former construction worker, I’m familiar with plaster’s use as a way of containing potential fires. Fire-taping was the entrance into my world as a drywall taper. Extra layers of drywall/ plaster sheets are used to help contain potential fires in apartment buildings. It offered protection to the wooden substrates I use. In the open air, I explored fire as a medium on the plastered panels, reclaiming something destructive to build the image. On the same panels that were cleared of the ashes from the gallery blaze, I allowed a fire to make something new exist.
– Shelley, April 2021

Currently, Shelley continues her research + production residency offsite.


ONGOING INSTALLATION PROJECTS – The offsite and onsite research + production residency, conversations and collaborations with All Art Now curator, Abir Boukhari (Sweden), local and international artists: Shelley Vanderbyl and Nisrine Boukhari, and CVAG’s curators  are made made visible day and night @ the Comox Valley Art Gallery corner of 6th Street + Duncan Ave. /  lower level window spaces​.

Facebook Album

Images: Angela Somerset
Video construction: Tom Elliot