Past Events 2014

Gold: Speaker Series 


March 19- April 16, 2014   

CBU Art Gallery is pleased to present a lunchtime speaker series to complement Gold: A Nova Scotia Treasure. Talks will take place on Wednesdays at noon at the Art Gallery and will cover a wide range of topics related to the story of gold in Nova Scotia. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

Wednesday March 19, 12:00pm
Gold in Nova Scotia: A Geological History
Dr. Deanne van Rooyen

The occurrence of gold deposits all over the world is controlled by the geology of the areas where the gold is found, and Nova Scotia is no exception. This talk will focus on the main geological environments in which Nova Scotia’s gold deposits occur in the context of the general geology of Nova Scotia. It will examine and explain the geological factors that contributed to forming these deposits and address the history of gold exploration in the province from a geological point of view.

Deanne van Rooyen is an Assistant Professor of Geology. She received her Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from Carleton University. Her research interests include structural geology, geochronology, and metamorphic petrology in relation to structural and tectonic problems on Cape Breton Island and the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia. She teaches courses in physical geology, geochemistry, engineering geology, and hydrogeology.

Wednesday April 9, 12:00pm
Gold Mining: Environmental Risks and Remediation
Dr. Martin Mkandawire

In Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare writes “All that glitters is not gold,” and the same can be said about where gold comes from and the footprint it leaves on the environment when extracted from ore. This presentation will evaluate environmental risks that arise from gold mining, the hazards it poses on the human health and will then propose some post-mining remediation options. The discussions will draw on specific experiences and examples from gold mining in Nova Scotia.

Martin Mkandawire is a chemist and the Industrial Research Chair for Mine Water Management at Cape Breton University. He has researched the radioecology and geochemical dynamics of uranium, heavy metals and radionuclides in waters of abandoned uranium mining sites for close to two decades. He is currently researching the development of cost-effective technology for mine water management in abandoned mines of the Sydney coalfields.

Wednesday April 16, 12:00pm
Striking it Rich? Songs about the Moose River Gold Mine Disaster
Dr. Heather Sparling

Wilf Carter, a Nova Scotian and the first Canadian country music star, was in New York City when he heard about the Moose River gold mine collapse in April 1936. J. Frank Wills was providing the first-ever live radio news coverage in Canada, and it was broadcast internationally. Three men remained trapped in the Moose River gold mine for 11 days and one died of pneumonia resulting from exposure. Carter wrote “The Rescue from Moose River Gold Mine” the day after the remaining men were rescued and his song became a hit. This presentation will examine Carter’s song as an example of a disaster song, considering the interplay between folk and commercial music and the role of songs in the aftermath of a disaster. Did Carter cunningly take advantage of the tragedy to ensure his song’s success? Or was his song an understandable and even appropriate response to a tragic event?

Heather Sparling is an ethnomusicologist and Canada Research Chair in Musical Traditions in CBU’s Department of History & Culture. Her research encompasses Gaelic songs of Nova Scotia and disaster songs of Atlantic Canada, and she is starting a new project on Cape Breton step dance. She has a growing interest in digital methods of disseminating research, such as through her project website (, social media, and a tablet-based exhibit on Nova Scotia mining disaster songs currently in preparation. She is the editor of MUSICultures, the journal of the Canadian Society for Traditional Music.


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

doing our own thing

June 13-August 15
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.

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 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 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.

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.

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.


Gary Blundell & Victoria Ward

Summer residency/ workshop July 20th to 27th

The Cape Breton University Art Gallery and the cape Breton miner’s museum will host Ontario-based artists Gary Blundell and Victoria Ward to deliver a community workshop that explores the legacy of mining in industrial cape Breton. The project will take place in two phases:  in the first phase (2014) the artists will lead a community workshop in the second phase (2015) results of the workshop will be exhibited at the CBU Art Gallery alongside new works created by Ward and Blundell.


Singing Storytellers Symposium

Friday October 10th
Film screening at Art Gallery 3:30pm to 5:30pm
Presented by: Jon Maia


BERTSOLAR (Asier Altuna, Director)

This event is in conjunction with Singing Storyteller Symposium. This film is a journey through time in the history of the art of the “Bertsolari” (“improviser –bard”), as well as the creative process and experiences of the performer. It explains the vision, techniques and strategy of the Bertsolari and his role in society. The film was a finalist at the International San Sebastian Film Festival, and features Jon Maia.


Chris Reid: Truth in Repetition
September 5 – October 31, 2014

Events & Programming
Friday September 5
6:00 pm-8:00 pm: Opening reception for Truth in Repetition

colorful art with information on the side

Saturday September 6
10:00 am- 12:00 pm: Storytelling/Drawing Workshop

Learn how line, shape, placement, color and mark making work together to tell a story in this hands-on workshop. 13 years to adult.

Artist talk & Tea
1:00 pm- 2:30 pm

Join Chris Reid for cup of tea and learn about her practice as an artist. Leave behind your used tea bag, which Reid will incorporate in her body of work as a memento of the exchange, and take your teacup home with you as a reminder of the occasion.

Wednesday, September 10
6:30-8:30: Pysanky Workshop

Workshop participants will use their own designs to decorate eggs using traditional Ukrainian techniques with a contemporary twist. 7 years to adult. Participants under 12 years must be accompanied by an adult.


AFCOOP 40th Anniversary Film Screening

November 13, 7:00pm



The Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative (AFCOOP) was born at a smoke-filled bar in Halifax, 1973.  Before its creation, the art of filmmaking in Canada was mostly limited to major cities like Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.  The tide turned when AFCOOP was incorporated in 1974, and soon centres followed in Newfoundland and New Brunswick. In the forty years since AFCOOP’s creation, storytelling styles, politics, and technology have changed, but the Co-op remains member-driven and committed to helping artists make the films they want to make. This showcase of notable films from the past forty years aims to distill the essence of AFCOOP into one sitting short enough that your ass doesn’t get numb. Experimental, animation, documentary, and drama are all on display in a manic program that equally celebrates, mocks, and outright ignores Maritime culture.

WAKE OF CALUM MACLEOD (dir. Marc Almon, 2006, 8 mins) A lonely Gaelic storyteller will do anything to have his grown children return home to Cape Breton – even if it requires staging his own funeral.

NOVA SCOTIA TOURIST INDUSTRIES (dir. James MacSwain, 1998, 12 mins) A copywriter struggles to pitch Nova Scotia as anywhere but a good place to kill oneself.

WHEN YOU SLEEP (dir. Ashley McKenzie, 2012, 11 mins) A rodent infestation forces a volatile teen couple to face a larger unspoken tension in their relationship.

8 FRAMES PER SECOND (dir. Chuck Clark, 1986, 11 mins) A kinetic portrait of the filmmaker’s North End Halifax neighbour.

THREE PART HARMONY (dir. Amanda Dawn Christie, 2006, 5 mins) This experimental dance film employs a bastardized version of the 1930s’ three strip technicolor process.

TWO BROTHERS AND A FILMMAKER (dir. John Brett, 1976, 24 mins) A verite documentary chronicling a pair of rural Nova Scotian brothers’ squabbles and way of life.

CELLS AND STALKS (dir. Herb Theriault, 2012, 2 mins) A series of close-ups allows us intimate access to the delicate structure of leaves, ferns and water reeds.

GLAMOUR GUTS (dir. Jasmine Oore, 2008, 3 mins) Instructions on how to live glamorously with intestinal disease.


Handmade Holiday

November 17, 2014, 10:00am – 4:00pm


A Handmade Holiday invites the funkiest, most exciting local crafters to participate in a seasonal campus celebration. The market attracts students, faculty, staff and members of the broader community for an afternoon of complimentary entertainment & treats and a festive holiday shopping experience.

The market takes place on November 17 from 10am-4pm in the CBU Great Hall (just outside the art gallery).

Realism vs. Naturalism: Free Workshop November 22, 1:00-3:00p.m.



Free Film Screening at CBU Art Gallery
7pm, Thursday 27th November 2014
CBU Art Gallery (beside the Great Hall)

life in a day

What do you get when you ask the people of the world to chronicle a single day in their lives? You get 80,000 submissions, 4500 hours of footage, from 192 countries. Kevin Macdonald has taken this raw material; all shot on July 24, 2010, and created a 90-minute paean to what it means to be human in the world today.The film was the creation of a partnership between YouTube and Ridley Scott. Director Kevin Macdonald said he saw the movie “as a metaphor of the experience of being on the Internet. … Clicking from one place to another, in this almost random way…following our own thoughts, following narrative and thematic paths.

Greg Davies

Phone: 902.563.1852

Catherine Arseneau
Director, Cultural Resources

Office: CE-271-A

Phone: 902.563.1326