Small exhibition at Gibsons Public Art Gallery lays foundation for growth

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A miniature exhibition space, opening at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery this month, amplifies the accessibility of small works of art while encouraging the free exchange of creativity.

Located in the west showcase of the gallery, the Tiny Art Gallery will feature half a dozen works by an individual artist each month. Sunshine Coast novelist, poet and photographer Jane Covernton opened the space with an exhibition of six framed prints collectively titled Becoming Food.

An adjacent section of the showcase is dedicated to a public exchange of original creations, which must not be larger than six square inches.

Covernton’s photographs, aptly placed behind a raised garden bed bristling with early spring flowers, invite an intimate inspection of fruit-bearing flora.

“I take pictures everywhere I go and I’m really drawn to flowers and fruit, close-ups,” said Covernton, who is an avid gardener. She recently created the Little Gallery in the Garden, an exhibition space at her home in Roberts Creek. In 2021, the Petite Galerie welcomes his exploration of archetypes through image and poetry under the title Becoming Human.

Covernton says close encounters with nature give him existential insight.

“This [the garden] is not in my hands,” she said. “I am so grateful to be able to witness the creativity of the earth and its ability to produce. That’s what the little show is about: bringing us food and beauty.

While the sun-drenched leaves and deep hues immediately draw passing pedestrians onto Marine Drive, Covernton’s images also reveal a tiny world in motion. A pollinating bee lights up on a cluster of fennel flowers, dwarfing the tiny flowers. Emerging blueberries surround their fruits with crowns of petals. A bramble flower shrugs.

“I was thinking of a question that Robin Wall Kimmerer asked, which is, ‘What is beauty for? And that’s definitely part of my investigation,” Covernton said. “This process of becoming food is interesting. Beauty has a purpose. In the case of [Kimmerer’s] question, maybe beauty is just to make us fall in love with the earth.

Covernton plans to contribute one of his prints to the Tiny Art Gallery Free Art Exchange, the brainchild of Gibsons Public Art Gallery volunteer Ellen Heale.

“It’s modeled after the concept of the little library, in the hope that it will encourage public participation,” Heale said. “Some small art galleries have a featured artist and some are interactive, so we try both.

Anyone can bring in a two- or three-dimensional piece of art and exchange it for a piece from the Tiny Art Gallery display case.

“I think it encourages people who might not consider themselves artists to give themselves and showcase their creativity,” said Heale, who has volunteered at the gallery for five years. “They can participate in something where you don’t have a long artistic resume to participate in.”

The small gallery makes an average of two to three exchanges per week.

“The fact that it was conceptualized and brought to life by one of our long-time volunteers who is also a practicing artist really speaks to the spirit of the community and the Gallery,” said Christina Symons, Director of Gibsons Public Art Gallery.

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