Skip to content

Six West Coast artists collaborate for exhibit at Courtenay gallery

Cliver Posley hangs some of his work for ‘The Alchemists’ at Artful : The Gallery. The show runs until Dec. 23. Photo supplied

Six B.C. West Coast artists are showing together under the thematic title “ The Alchemists.”

Two of the artists are from the Comox Valley – Lisa Kirk and Clive Powsey – and the remaining artists include Ramon Kubicek (Sunshine Coast), Ivy Miller (Nanaimo), Deb Chaney (Gabriola Island) and Wilma Millette (Cowichan Valley).

Historically, alchemy refers to the attempt to transform matter and is often considered the origins of modern chemistry. In the medieval period, alchemists attempted to turn base metals into gold, and find an elixir for eternal youth or healing. More recently the definition refers to the process of transformation and creation; often in artistic, philosophical, or spiritual terms. Alchemy has become a metaphor for self-actualization, spiritual or psychological rebirth.

Artists recognize the symbolic potency of alchemical processes, both in their artistic process and as subject matter, finding the richness of meaning in the connections between the worlds of the spiritual and material, sensual and scientific, conscious and unconscious. Alchemy is laden with metaphor, symbolism, and themes to be interpreted by artists. Whether ancient, medieval, or contemporary, they encourage contemplation about idealistic aspirations, acceptance of imperfection, and humanity’s quests for the impossible.

Alchemists are responsible for many of the colours artists use today. Medieval manuscripts are full of recipes for pigments, focused on the alloys, pigments, and colours to be used in paintings and manuscripts. Millette’s mixed media assemblages reference this history with their small glass, cork-stoppered vials of powdered pigments.

For curator Kristina Campbell, each of these artists uniquely speaks to the transformative power of creativity and art making. The breadth of styles and techniques is evidence of their individual interpretations of the process of transformation: Miller’s over-sized paper cutout watercolour paintings transport the viewer to a mythological world, Kirk’s powerful portraits speak to the healing power of creative expression, and Powsey’s drypoint ink prints, on both paper and plaster, were inspired by words and idea prompts transformed by artificial intelligence into the subject matter for his series of tea-stained prints.

The Alchemists exhibition runs through Dec. 23 at Artful : The Gallery, 526C Cumberland Rd., Courtenay. The gallery is open to the public Wednesday to Saturday from noon - 5 p.m.

There is an artists’ reception Friday, Nov. 10, 7-9 p.m.

For more details, visit