Category Archives: Rest Stop

Upcoming at the CRAG: Art Runs in the Family

Rest Stop, in progress. Photo courtesy of Cedric Bomford.

The CRAG is excited to present two new interactive sculptures, Rest Stop and Crummy Gallery this fall by Victoria-based artists Cedric, Nathan and Jim Bomford. The Bomfords, a father-and-son trio, have worked collaboratively on several artistic projects like this one in the past. 

A family business or profession being passed down through generations is not uncommon, whether by means of nature or nurture. Learning a trade by observing someone you live in close proximity to makes sense, as well as the idea of the “creative gene” being inherited by birth. Parents who are well-connected in the art world can open doors for their offspring to succeed in the same circles. What is perhaps less common is parents and children working as equal partners on a shared artistic project. 

Rembrandt Workshop, Portrait of Rembrandt, 1650, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Widener Collection, 1942.9.70

While there is a persistent Western fascination with the singular artist as a reclusive genius, artists throughout history and today in fact rely on a vast network of support to produce their work. In the Medieval, Renaissance and Early Modern periods in Europe, the guild system flourished. Many artists inherited the family business of a certain genre of painting or other type of art. Hans Holbein the Elder worked as a renowned portraitist in the Late Gothic style, establishing a large workshop in the city of Augsburg, while his son was a pioneer of the Northern Renaissance elsewhere in Europe. Apprentices in a master’s workshop would even complete the less-detailed sections of paintings attributed to the master or create similar drawings that are often still mis-attributed such as works from the Rembrandt school.  

Generations of talented artists appear not just in the Western canon of art history. Inuit artists from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut, Pitseolak Ashoona, Napachie Pootoogook and Annie Pootoogook are grandmother, mother and daughter respectively. They were all talented artists respectively, working in printmaking and drawing, influenced by each other. Artist collectives sprung up the 20th century and like-minded artists routinely expand their capacity with collaborative efforts—check out this 2016 article from Canadian Art that captures a diverse cross-section of contemporary collaborations happening in Canada on small and community scales. Performance art lends itself to a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach used by mother and daughter California-based Lita and Jasmine Albuquerque and the UK family art collective of filmmakers Grace Surman and Gary Winters and their two school-aged children. 

Aside from the intangible bond of parents and siblings forged over decades of shared memories, the Bomfords’ artistic connection could stem from their overlapping interest which figures extensively in their practice—the land. Dad Jim was born in Duncan and Nathan and Cedric have both lived and worked in Victoria. 

Not all of their projects involve each other. Jim is retired from a career in civil engineering and both Cedric and Nathan have studied and exhibited their own art including photography and installations abroad. Perhaps what binds them creatively is the latitude to express their own ideas outside of the shared space. 

Each bring a unique set of skills and perspective to their practice. They have expressed their process for building large-scale works such as Rest Stop and Crummy Gallery as “thinking through building,” as they avoid extensive planning and designing before starting the construction. The structures become improvisational, allowing for more interaction and collaboration. This also avoids the uniform urban aesthetic, recalling instead structures built based on need and available materials such as a backyard shed or long-abandoned dwellings in small settler communities along the BC coast. 

Crummy Gallery, in progress. Photo courtesy of Cedric Bomford.

In the spirit of their familial approach, all three artists and their own families will be in attendance to give an artist talk for our Exhibition Opening at the Art & Earth Festival taking place at the gallery and in Spirit Square on Saturday, September 21st from 3 to 5 pm. Join us for a free and fun-filled afternoon of activities for the whole family including live music and community toy-building. Their sculptures will be on view at the CRAG until November 18th.

For further reading on this fruitful topic, see the links gathered below:

The Atlantic: A closer look at other types of creative collaboration…John Lennon and Paul McCartney, anyone? Another great list of duo collaborations, including friends, spouses and siblings.

Royal Academy of Art: A profile of several artists featured at the 2016 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in London consisting of over 15 duos.

Upcoming Exhibition at the CRAG: The Bomfords & Public Space in BC

Inspiration for the upcoming artwork Rest Stop came from visiting and photographing rest stops like this one on Vancouver Island. Photo courtesy of Cedric Bomford.

The Bomfords’ upcoming exhibition, Rest Stop & Crummy Gallery, is being custom-built to be shown at the Campbell River Art Gallery. Cedric, Nathan and their father Jim, who have all lived and worked in the Island for many years, are no strangers to working together on projects of this large scale. 

In the summer of 2014, they presented another site-specific, interactive public sculpture in and around Vancouver’s waterways, called Deadhead. made from found and recycled materials. The trio explored Vancouver Island on research trips for several years before the realization of the sculpture, finding inspiration in the vernacular structures. Many were abandoned projects or dwellings decaying in the wet West Coast environment. Much of the materials that made up this mostly-wooden sculpture were salvaged from such projects, and a photograph of a False Creek storage shed served as exterior decoration (or camouflage) on the exterior of the central tower. Some of the materials from this project were later repurposed once again repurposed for a later project called Deadhead: Redux. The structure was mounted on the back of a truck (like the upcoming Crummy Gallery) which was featured at events in Victoria produced by Open Space Gallery and Ministry of Casual Living in 2016. Their ingenuity and collaboration allowed them to construct as they went without relying on previous plans or renderings of the final product.

Photo of Deadhead from Cedric Bomford’s website, 8 September 2014.

The entire structure was built on top of a floating steel barge which was pulled by a tug boat and could be moored nearly anywhere, though it primarily resided in Heritage Harbour adjacent to the Vancouver Maritime Museum. The movement around the busy port of Vancouver introduced the idea of art as an economic product, democratized through free access to the vessel. Once visitors came aboard, they were free to explore the space which was purposefully designed not to be straightforward, echoing the improvisational style of its production. Certain points allowed for a view framed by the structure, with the ultimate centre of the maze being the elevated lookout. 

An excerpt regarding the title of this work from the Deadhead website clarifies these themes.

“The title Deadhead suggests multiple meanings: a waterlogged tree partially submerged beneath the water’s surface represents imminent danger, and to ‘deadhead’ a plant entails plucking remnants of past bounty to encourage further blooming. It also refers to the cargo, or lack thereof, on a return trip without paying passengers or freight. The Bomfords’ interpretation of ‘deadhead’ combines the particular conditions of the west coast – its unique climate, histories, and economies – with the artists’ creative process: a hybrid model of function, fantasy, logic and mystery, and the precariousness of the unknown.”

Rear View of the Crummy Gallery, in progress. The Crummy will be parked outside in Spirit Square for the duration of the exhibition with a few scheduled stops around town. Photo courtesy of Cedric Bomford.

This playful use of local terminology carries in to the CRAG’s exhibition. A “crummy” is a vehicle used to transport logging workers to the camp. The back bed of the truck is arranged with two parallel benches to maximize space. An adage goes that it is called a crummy because that is how one feels when they ride in one. The Bomfords are interested in engaging with the local history and culture of our resource-based economy and how that impacts the way that we interact with our environment.

Rest Stop, in progress. Photo courtesy of Cedric Bomford.

The CRAG is excited to present these two newly-commissioned works this fall, starting September 21st, to open a dialogue surrounding public space in Campbell River and on Vancouver Island. We will be joined by the artists and their families at our exhibition opening and launch party which coincides with the Art and Earth Festival happening around Campbell River over the weekend of the 21st. Our event on the Saturday will be located outside the gallery in Spirit Square where the Crummy Gallery will be open to the public and the main gallery will be open for tours of Rest Stop. The artists will be giving a talk along with live music, food and drink, and an upcycled kids activity for all to enjoy. Stop by to join the festivities from 3 to 5 pm. The exhibition will be on display at the CRAG until November 18th. Keep an eye out on our website and FaceBook page for more events and programming this fall.

Sources & Further Reading:

An article in the Vancouver Sun from 2014 with a great description of the experience of being onboard Deadhead.

Cedric Bomford’s website with description of Deadhead: Redux. Check out his other past projects while you’re there.