The Campbell River Art Gallery’s latest exhibition Ask the Mountains features an immersive 10 foot by 10 foot installation, with walls standing eight feet high and resonators hanging from the ceiling.

Visitors will step inside to find an atmosphere that conjures traces of the artists Jenni Schine and Sylvie Ringer’s treasured experiences on Malcolm Island and acts as a catalyst for viewers to reminisce on their own meaningful places.

“I remember that when I first came to Malcolm Island and started to explore artistically what I saw and felt, what came to me…my drawings, sketches were more similar to what really was, Ringer says. “Over the course of the years that has changed, I have internalized certain forms and shapes and am concentrating more on metaphoric landscapes, atmospheres that I know and that can be presented in many ways, symbols…in a way my perception of the place has gotten ‘deeper,’ more internalized…through different sediments.”

Sound bite by Sylvie Ringer for Ask the Mountains

The exhibition runs from March 19 to May 21, with an opening reception on March 19, from 5-7 p.m. at the gallery.

Ask the Mountains offers an opportunity for viewers to question their relationship with the natural world in a time when isolation and travel restrictions means relying on memories of beloved places rather than return trips.

“The ability to reach places in our minds that we cannot physically visit, or that have drastically changed is becoming imperative,” says Curator of Contemporary Art Jenelle Pasiechnik. “Though the project stems from experiences of a remote place off North Vancouver Island, the implications reach beyond that to encompass the fragility of many places, their populations, and the responsibilities visitors have as uninvited guests.“

The exhibition allows viewers to experience the voice of Malcolm Island. Pure sounds gathered into an abstract composition by Schine, elegantly strung together to recreate a sense of the place. The sounds will resonate through Giorgio Magnanensi’s West Coast Radians – wooden speakers made of cedar and maple.

“The installation acts as a character, itself and so do the wooden-speakers,” Schine says. “The sonic work is not a composition in the way of a classical composition, rather it works with sound materials and their specific sonic qualities.”

Sound bite by Sylvie Ringer for Ask the Mountains

Tlatlaskudis (Malcolm Island) is located on the unceded Kwakwaka’wakw Territory of the Kwakiutl, Mamalilikala, and ‘Namgis First Nations. The exhibition was created with the guidance of ‘Namgis Indigenous consultant Yvonne Wilson.

See Ask the Mountains at the Campbell River Art Gallery Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from March 19-May 21, 2022.

Ringer and Schine met while walking on Malcolm Island, in 2017. They found artistic connection through shared inspiration and the need to immerse themselves in an environment to develop ideas. They have worked on several projects together since then, including an exhibition in Victoria in 2018.

Giorgio Magnanensi is a composer, the artistic director of Vancouver New Music and Laboratorio, and a lecturer at the School of Music of the Vancouver Community College. His West Coast Radians are an important element of Ask the Mountains, as they help to amplify the voices of Malcolm Island that come through Schine’s compositions. 

The Radians are slices of red cedar, Sitka spruce and maple Magnanensi rescued from a refuse pile at a mill operation on the Sunshine Coast.  Each panel is unique and has its own voice; maple is a denser wood that produces higher and brighter pitches, whereas cedar produces smoother and lower tones. 

A sound bite by Sylvie Ringer for Ask the Mountains