Rights of passage: A conversation with artists and naturalist
In partnership with Birds Canada
Participants: Lou Sheppard, Emily Neufeld, Laiwan, Rob Butler, and Sharon MacGougan
Panel presentation led by Shaun Dacey and Caroline Biel.
Saturday October 10, 2pm – Register for talk here
Rights of Passage, an interactive set of walks by artist Lou Sheppard follows lost or hidden streams/waterways in the developed urban environment of Richmond/Steveston. This work prompts us to consider from both a historic and contemporary perspective the human and non-human right of passage to these waterways. In Celebration of Vancouver Bird Week, Richmond Art Gallery in partnership with Birds Canada hosts an online conversation between artists and naturalists exploring ecology, politics of use, history of place, and water in the delta landscape of the Lower Mainland. Artists Lou Sheppard, Laiwan and Emily Neufeld will each share projects that engage the natural world alongside presentations by naturalists Rob Butler, and Sharon MacGougan.
Rob Butler is an ornithologist, author, and artist. Over half a century of watching, writing, drawing, listening and living among birds, Rob Butler’s views have transformed from ecology and behaviour of birds to a unifying vision of nature and human culture which he calls Nature Culture. Butler holds a graduate degree from Simon Fraser University (MSc) and the University of British Columbia (PhD). His research career includes the social behaviour of crows, ecology of herons, and migration of birds. Rob is an adjunct professor of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University and has published over 150 works for scientific and popular audiences.
Laiwan is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and educator with a wide-ranging practice based in poetics and philosophy. Recent projects include a process-based investigation of street trees in the Vancouver, titled Maple Tree Spiral: the pedagogy of a tree in the city, at Artspeak Gallery located at the convergence of Maple Tree Square in Gastown, Vancouver, BC; and a public art commission by Translink and the City of New Westminster, on the theme of phytoplankton and in collaboration with UBC’s Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences — titled Wander: Toward a Lightness of Being — installed at the 22nd Street Skytrain Station in New Westminster, BC.
As president of the Garden City Conservation Society, Sharon MacGougan is passionate about conserving and restoring Richmond’s ecosystems. She works closely with City of Richmond staff and citizens to make the city’s Ecological Network Management Strategy a living reality. Sharon is also currently active in Save Richmond Trees. No stranger to leadership, Sharon is a former local chair of Amnesty International and then chair of Amnesty International Canada. A career band teacher, Sharon is the published author of two books about teaching music and the novel “The Mayan Mysteries”.
Emily Neufeld’s practice investigates place, and how humans change and are changed by the surrounding environment, and the layers of memory and psychic history that accumulate in a material world. Neufeld has created and participates in community sharing gardens, and sees land as fundamental to her research process. Her exhibition Prairie Invasions: A Lullaby currently on view at Richmond Art Gallery explores abandoned farmhouses in Alberta. Searching through remnants of the selected sites, she probes for traces of the lives and histories of those who have resided there. Neufeld’s actions underpin her desire to understand the powers and influences shaping a place and the incremental changes that occur over time.
Lou Sheppard works in interdisciplinary audio, performance and installation based practices. In 2020 Sheppard has been the Branscombe House Artist-in-residence. While in residence they have completed numerous works in the Richmond area including Murmurations: Scores for Social Distancing, a series of dance works based on bird flocking behaviour.