Art Gallery

Doing Our Own Thing: Back-to-the-Land in Eastern Canada during the 1970s

June 13-August 15

Curated by Amish Morrell & Pan Wendt
Opening Reception: June 13, 6:00-8:00pm
Programming events: Saturday June 14, 1:00-3:30

Programming for the day consists of a threshing demonstration by artist Fenn Martin, a talk on the Whole Earth Catalogue delivered by MoMA Bibliographer David Senior and a panel discussion moderated by Amish Morrell featuring Ron Caplan, Andrew Terris, Johanna Pedelt and David Martin which considers some of the key ideas and influences behind the back-to-the-land movement. See below for details.

Watch video footage from the discussion panel featuring Ron Caplan, Andrew Terris, David Martin and Johanna Padelt, as they consider some of the key ideas and influences behind the back-to-the-land movement.

CBUAG Saturdays: Fun Free Events for Adults, Youth & Kids!

Come visit CBU Art Gallery this summer for free events related to the current exhibition Doing Our Own Thing: Back-to-the-Land in Esatern Canada during the 1970.  Delve into the utopian imagination of the back-to-the-land movement. Explore self-publishing and share your knowledge. Design and create structures of the future using basic household goods! See below for more information on workshops.

CBUAG Saturdays are FREE. Advanced registration is ercommended as spaces are limited. Call 563-1342 or email sara_roth@cbu.ca for more information. Activities will be indoors and outdoors, all events begin at CBU Art Gallery.

George Thomas, Portrait of Lynn Zimmerman, Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton, early 1970's, Kodachrome slide.

This exhibition looks to the utopian imagination of the back-to-the-land movement, and considers both its ambitions and its failures, to see what we might recuperate from this history almost forty years later. The exhibition consists of documentary photographs of back-to-the-land families from western Cape Breton Island that were taken during throughout the 1970s by George Thomas, a reading room housing The Whole Earth Catalog Library and a fully functional build-your-own grain threshing machine by Cape Breton-born artist and second-generation back-to-the-lander, Fenn Martin.

Co-presented by Cape Breton University Art Gallery (Sydney, NS) and Confederation Centre Art Gallery (Charlottetown, PEI).

 

CBUAG Saturdays: Educational Programming 

Come visit the CBUAG this summer for free events related to the current exhibition, Doing Our Own Thing: Back-to-the-Land in Eastern Canada during the 1970s. Delve into the utopian imagination of the back-to-the-land movement. Explore self-publishing and share your knowledge. Design and create structures of the future using basic household goods!

CBUAG Saturdays events are FREE. Advanced registration is recommended as spaces are limited. Call 563-1342 or email sara_roth@cbu.ca for more information, or to register. Activities will be indoors and outdoors, all events begin at the CBU Art Gallery.

Little Magazines: Self-Publishing and Knowledge Sharing

June 21, 1-3PM

The Whole Earth Catalog was a meeting-place in print for members of dispersed counterculture communities. The catalog often referenced independent publications that shared current ideas and specialized skills. These “little magazines,” or zines, incorporated comics, diagrams, graphics and text into small, easily reproducible publications. Explore the “little magazines” in the exhibition, and learn some strategies to disseminate your own specialized skills. Come prepared to cut and paste!

Inflatable Structures!

July 12, 1-3PM

The Shelter and Land Use section of the Whole Earth Catalog shared current ideas in architectural design. Ideas that were put into practice by back-to-the-land households and intentional communities. Following instructions found in the Inflatocookbook, we will test the functionality and practicality of these designs as we create a structure of our own!

Gardening for Self-Sufficiency

August 9, 1-3PM

Growing food is a key social and political ideal of the back-to-the-land movement. In this mini-workshop, we will explore the ways back-to-the-land families translated ideals into practice, as well as do some gardening of our own. In collaboration with the CBU Community Garden Project, participants will cultivate the knowledge (and harvest the seeds) to start or expand their own edible garden.

 

Programming Events: Saturday June 14

1:00-1:30  Threshing demonstration

Fenn Martin will conduct a live demonstration of Thrasher 002, a build-your-own threshing machine specially commissioned for the exhibition. Designed for aspiring back-to-the-landers, Thrasher 002 is scaled to ensure an ample supply of grains for all human and animal occupants of your farm and home.

1:30-2:30  Access to Tools: David Senior on the Whole Earth Catalog Library

In 1968, Stewart Brand founded the Whole Earth Catalog. Brand’s goals were to make a variety of tools accessible to newly dispersed counterculture communities, back-to-the-land households, and innovators in the fields of technology, design, and architecture, and to create a community meeting-place in print. Books, selected and described by the editorial staff and organized in sections titled Understanding Whole Systems, Shelter and Land Use, Communication, and Community, were primary resources offered by the Whole Earth Catalog. For a 2010 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, David Senior surveyed publications that were listed in the Whole Earth Catalog and summarized the history of the catalogue project over the course of the years 1968-1974. Senior's talk will describe some highlights from his research, reflect on the WEC's focus on experimental ideas in design and technology as well as its importance within an historical lineage of self-publishing/DIY art and design projects.

David Senior is Bibliographer at The Museum of Modern Art Library in New York City. He has been published in Frieze, Bulletins of the Serving Library, A Prior and C Magazine and is a member of the advisory boards of Printed Matter, Art Metropole, Primary Information, Yale Union (YU), and the Serving Library.

2:30-3:30 Doing Our Own Thing: On the Ideas Behind the Back-to-the-Land Movement

With Ron Caplan, Andrew Terris Johanna Padelt and David Martin. Moderated by Amish Morrell.

This panel will consider some of the key ideas and influences behind the back-to-the-land movement. Consisting of people who were part of the movement in Cape Breton, the panel will explore the role of information networks and alternative publications that linked local communities to an international counterculture. Panelists will also reflect on the idea of self-sufficient living as aesthetic practice and how aspects of the back-to-the-land phenomena paralleled broader trends in art and culture.

Ron Caplan is founder of Cape Breton’s Magazine and Publisher of Breton Books.

Andrew Terris and Rejene Stowe homesteaded on 55 acres in northern Cape Breton from 1971 to 1982.  There they built their own house, grew their own food, cut their own firewood, and established a successful stained glass business.

Johanna Padelt is a silversmith who moved to Cape North in 1971. Soon thereafter she established her business, The Jewellery at Cape North, and later became co-owner of Arts North.

David Martin went back-the-land in Port Hood in 1970, where he worked as a potter, cabinet maker and carpenter.

Amish Morrell is Editor at C Magazine and Co-Curator of Doing Our Own Thing: Back-to-the-Land in Eastern Canada during the 1970s.